Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Not just a fluke

With the wet warm weather that we are experiencing, the warnings are out that liver fluke is becoming a problem for sheepand alpacas in the area.  The liver fluke is a flatworm with a complex lifecycle which relies on moisture and warm temperatures for survival, 

Acute infestation can cause livestock deaths if the parasite is left to multiply unchecked. Sheep of all ages are equally susceptible, with the most acute forms of infestation observed during the autumn.  Alpacas can also carry this parasite, especially if they are grazing on wetlands .  We have a spring in the winter paddocks and quite a large marshy area, which is particularly attractive when the marsh orchids are in bloom.

As a precaution we drench our alpacas against fluke three times over the winter, starting in October and the last dose in April.   With our smaller herd it is an easy job for me to do without any help.   Today was the turn of our females and I was really pleased at how well they behaved.  Even Perdita, a well built but sometimes unco-operative young female, gave way gracefully.

The Gotland Sheep were also more helpful than usual.  I think they have decided to take a lead from the alpacas.   The goats are quite easy to deal with but you just have to watch out that the horns are pointing the right way.

The next drench will be ADE paste which is a sugery paste as a carrier for essential vitamins, especially Vitamin D which is very important for alpacas who originate in South America where they are exposed to higher levels of sunshine with less filtration from the atmosphere.    I intend to start this on the next dry day. 

The Christmas Market is now fully booked with no more stall holder spaces available.  I have put out posters and advertised the event in the Marshwood Vale Magazine, the Parish Newsletter and on our website.  It now just depends on the weather so that enough visitors come along. 

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