Alpaca Nutrition News
Preparing for the spring crias
Probably the best way to insure the
uneventful delivery of healthy crias is to insure that the mother is also
healthy and in good physical condition. Some things to be aware of now, before
it is too late to change anything:
Does the female have
either diarrhea or constipation? Either condition may indicate rumen
disruption. The temperature in northeastern Kansas this winter has been all over
the map. We have gotten as low as -8 F and as high as 62 F within a few days of
each other. The temperature has gone up and down many times. This is very
stressful on livestock (and humans). The result is usually either diarrhea or
constipation. It is imperative to get the dam's digestive tract back in order
before she undergoes the stresses of parturition and lactation. The best way to
do this is to feed a concentrated probiotic like MSE paste or drench. The
probiotic microorganisms protect the dam while her resident microflora
re-establish. And the vitamins help replenish those that may have become
depleted due to increased requirement or disrupted feeding. Birth and lactation
are trying enough for healthy mothers, don't hamstring your females with chronic
rumen disruption as well.
Dam's body score - is it significantly
above or below 5? Why is this important? Females that are obese have a tendency
to have difficult births. This may because of size of the fetus. Large crias can
develop when the dam has access to too much grain. Obese females also have a
tendency to have problems with lactation. What can you do now?
Gradually reduce grain,
say, over two weeks, and then curtail until after parturition. Grain is
concentrated energy, which is stored as fat unless the animal is physically
active or nursing. The demand for energy jumps once the female starts nursing.
If the grain is minimized during lactation, weight loss will result. The key is
to balance the grain so that there is enough milk for the cria, but Mom doesn't
start gaining weight. Always have a good mineral mix available. Be aware of
supplements that also contain minerals, they can cause mineral imbalances when
fed in addition to a mineral mix.
If the female has a body
score significantly below 5, then now is the time to try to get her to gain.
Weight gain is very difficult when nursing. It is not unusual for a female to
lose weight during lactation. Unless the loss is replaced during pregnancy, this
can accumulate. Thin females have difficulty rebreeding. The best way to get a
mother in late pregnancy closer to an average body score is to use a
concentrated probiotic like MSE paste or drench. Either of these products
increases feed efficiency so the dam gets more out of whatever she eats. Either
can be top-dressed or mixed into feed.
MSE microbial paste and drench are available
at www.naturs-way.com. They can also be
ordered over the phone at 800-615-0299, M - F, 8:30 am to 6:00 pm. If you have
any questions or comments, please write Lark Burnham at firstname.lastname@example.org.