Alpaca Nutrition News
Stress and Health
The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of all
mammals contains approximately 400 species of microorganisms (bacteria, yeast,
fungi, and protozoa). These microbes are an extension of the immune system. They
are the first line of defense against invading pathogens.
Animals react to stress (environmental,
emotional, and nutritional) with the "flight or fight" mechanism. Hormones
released in a lightening-fast sequence redirect energy away from the GIT and
towards the muscles. Peristaltic waves that usually mix and move digesta from
stem to stern stop or slow. Nutrients that require energy to be absorbed remain
in the GIT lumen.
Depending on the intensity and/or duration of
the stress, the energy drain on the GIT can have serious consequences. Because
the GIT microbes are either attached or otherwise non-motile, they rely on
nutrients to come to them. Without digesta flow, they starve and die. Gaps
appear in the protective barrier they usually present.
Stressors may be grouped into major (birth,
weaning, castration, shearing, transportation, relocation, and extreme weather
changes) or minor (small weather changes and some handling). Pain is also a
stressor, but chronic pain does the most damage.
Stress is a part of life. However, animal
husbandry introduces many forms of stress that are not natural and may induce
infection and disease. Because alpacas and other herbivores depend on
microorganisms for their very existence. stress has a greater impact on them
than non-herbivorous species.
Probiotics temporarily fill the gaps left by
stress-killed indigenous microflora. They are the proverbial finger in the dam.
They protect the animal so the resident microflora can recover. Probiotics
usually come in two strengths:
Granulated forms to be fed daily to
protect against minor stresses.
Concentrated forms (paste or liquid)
which are given before, during, and/or after major stresses, and for
treatment of illness.
Concentration is very important, digestive
enzymes and friction may cause the demise of some probiotic microorganisms. To
ensure that an adequate number of VIABLE probiotic microbes reaches their
target, a greater number of viable microorganisms must be consumed. No probiotic
on the market contains as many viable microorganisms as MSE from Natur's Way.
MSE comes in granulated, paste, and liquid
(drench) forms. It is available at
www.naturs-way.com or by calling 785-486-3302, 8:30 am - 6:00 pm, M - F. A
nutritionist is always available to answer your questions at
Prevention is almost always
less expensive than treatment.
"Alpaca nutrition news" is a monthly
newsletter that offers helpful nutritional information for alpaca producers. It
is prepared by Lark Burnham, Ph.D., ruminant nutrition.