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NOTE: The information and referenced links below (and this page) have not been totally converted to the new website format. Many pages exist as they did in the old website.  All of the pages and information will be restored to the new website.  Only the location will change.
Many thanks to Barb Hance for her and Bob's incredible work required to maintain and post this and other information throughout the site.  We look forward to many more links, and references from Barb and Bob Hance and anyone else with important information that should be on this page.  -------- RMLA webmaster-----------

Things to do BEFORE you call the vet and evaluating the new Camelid-PDF.

Abdomen/Stomach Eye/Study Male/Reproduction
Angular Limb (Knock Knee) Feed/Problem Micoplasma haemolamae (EPI)
Anthrax First/Aid Minerals
Behavior/Handling FMD Necropsy/Post Mortem
Body Score Foot Neonatology/(New Born)
Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD) Forages Nitrate & Nitrite Poisoning
Brain Sizes Glucose/Tolerance Nutrition
BSE/MadCow Handling/Behavior Overdue Pregnancies
Cats&Toxoplasmosis Hay/Tests Parasite
Clostridial/Vaccination Health/Topics/Access Poison (Toxins)
CPR - Heart Stop Heat/Stress Rabies
Deafness High Altitude Sickness Reproduction
Dental Health Hydrocortisone/Effects Research
Drug/(Injections)/Reaction Hypothermia SNOTS, The
Drug/Usage/Info Insulin/Epinephrine Stomach/Abdomen
Dystocia Johne's/Disease Toxoplasmosis/Cats
ECG parameters Kidney Problem Vaccination/Clostridial
Emergency/Alert Lameness/Research Vesicular/Stomatitis(VS)
Environmental/Impact Liver/Disease Water
EPI New Name Mad Cow/"BSE" West/Nile/Virus
Epinephrine and Insulin   Whip Worm


Internet Access to Ohio State University
Camelid Health Program
David E Anderson, DVM, MS, Coordinator
Health Topics Web Site
Continuing Education Programs

Rita Remy, Director, Veterinary Continuing Education
0005 Veterinary Hospital, 601 Vernon Tharp Street
Columbus, OH, 43210-1092
Phone: 614/292-8727; Fax: 614/688-5472
Web Site:


Congenital Deafness                                                             8-8-02
Philip A. March, DVM, MS (Neurologist)
David E Anderson, DVM, MS (Surgeon)
College of Veterinary Medicine
The Ohio State University

         Deafness has become a well-recognized disorder in llamas and alpacas.  The overall incidence of this condition in camelids is unknown, but an association between deafness and the presence of blue eyes and a white hair coat appears to exist.  A relationship between deafness and hypo pigmentation exists across many species (humans, dogs, and cats) and is not unique to the llama and alpaca populations.  Neither the mode of inheritance nor the gene defect(s) responsible for congenital deafness are known at this time.
         Hearing loss can occur secondary to nerve conductive problems in the middle ear (Otis media) or due to sensorineural injury (inflammation or degeneration of the peripheral auditory receptors or cochlear nerve).  Congenital hearing loss in most species is due to premature degeneration or abnormal development of sensorineural structures.  The brain stem auditory evoked response (BAER) is a sensitive method to distinguish between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.  The BAER is a rapid, non-invasive evoked potential test that does not require patient attention or any type of behavioral response to the stimulus.  Ear headphones or ear inserts are used and three small needle electrodes are placed subcutaneously over different areas of the scalp.  A stimulator generates clicks and the scalp electrodes record averaged electrical activity originating from ear and brain stem structures.  A reproducible series of 5 waves are produced which represent sequential neural activity being relayed along the auditory pathway (Figure 1).  Wave I is generated by inner ear auditory hair cells and the cochlear nerve.  Relay areas in the brain stem generate waves II through V.  A simple conduction problem in the middle ear will delay and attenuate waves I through V but will not usually result in their total absence.  A severe sensorineural (inner ear) injury will result in absence of wave I, and all subsequent waves (II through V).  This is called a "flat line" response and is seen commonly in animals with congenital deafness.  This "all or none response" makes the BAER a very sensitive and reliable neurodiagnostic test for congenital deafness.
         Initial work on assessing normal BAERs in camelids has allowed us to fine tune the BAER protocol for the llama and alpaca species.  Due to unusual external ear canal anatomy in camelids and difficulties in preventing occlusion of ear inserts by ear canal wax and debris, the headphone method of stimulation was compared to the ear insert method for BAER measurement.  Results indicated that the headphone method was more reliable, yielded reproducible results, was technically easier, and did not decrease the quality of the BAER waveforms.  BAER measurements were done in both sedated and non-sedated crias and adults.  General anesthesia was not necessary. Young crias could be done without sedation.  Older crias and adults only occasionally required sedation.  Sedation was rarely required if headphones were used instead of ear inserts.  The equipment was also used to assess hearing in 14 sedated and non-sedated alpacas at a private
breeding facility.  Good quality BAERs were obtained on all individuals in this remote location and the headphone method was very well tolerated.
         Clinical studies at OSU are in progress to assess the relative incidence of deafness in alpacas and llamas with various coat and eye colors.  Phenotypic characteristics that are strongly associated with and/or predictive for deafness will be statistically evaluated.  Data accumulated to date indicate that deafness is strongly associated with a solid blue eye color in conjunction with a white hair coat.  There are rare exceptions.  With this information, breeding studies of affected and related individuals, and candidate gene analyses, the genetic basis of this trait will be better understood.
         Parallel studies are focusing on characterizing early development of auditory function in crias utilizing the BAER.  As congenital deafness in camelids appears to be due to premature degeneration of sensorineural structures early in life, it is important to know the normal maturation of hearing abilities in unaffected crias so that abnormal hearing during various stages of development can be recognized.   To date, "normal" BAER recordings have been obtained in hearing crias as young as one day of age.  Whether congenitally deaf crias are truly deaf at birth or have a delayed degeneration of auditory function after birth is not known.  Further studies in this area should help define the developmental stage at which hearing abilities are lost in affected camelids.

Conclusions to date based on our research:
         1. A modified BAER method (using headphones instead of ear inserts) has been validated and appears superior to other methods in llamas and alpacas.
         2. Hearing, as determined by the BAER, in llamas and alpacas is very well developed at birth.  We are studying the BAER changes that occur during cria maturation now.
         3. Congenital deafness is prevalent in camelids with a white hair coat and solid blue eye color (approximately 90 % of animals with solid white hair coats and solid sky-blue to white eyes are deaf; we have found one solid colored eyed and white coated female with deafness and one solid sky-blue eye with red coat with normal hearing).  The deafness appears to be sensorineural in origin.
         4. Congenital deafness was not found in llamas or alpacas with other combinations of phenotypic coat and eye color traits except for the one female with a dark eye and white coat.
         5. It appears that deafness is present and can be determined immediately after birth in crias. This means that no delay is necessary to determine if a suspect cria can hear.
         6. More studies are in progress to determine onset and inheritance of congenital deafness in camelids. We are trying to determine mode of inheritance and determine genetic markers for this deafness trait, which is likely to be genetic.

Research progress for congenital deafness is severely hindered by lack of funding. To date, all clinical research has been supported through the generous donations of private supporters such as: the Ohio River Valley Llama Association, A. L. Pacas Farms, the Camelid Health Foundation, and
the Magical Farms Alpacas. Alpaca owners throughout the United States, including Alaska generously donated animals used in breeding research! Without further funding, this report may be as far as we are able to go to further characterize this defect on your behalf. If you wish to support
this research, please contact Dr. David Anderson

David E Anderson, DVM, MS

                International Camelid Institute






1. Clean, new syringe - do not leave syringes lying around. Open them just
before using and be efficient.

2. Clean, new needle - and keep it that way. Needles can become quickly
contaminated in the hair, dirt and debris of the barn.

3. Clean new vaccine vial (vaccines from multidose vials should be used or
discarded. Many adverse reactions I have seen are from large vials stored
for prolonged periods. If you need 20 doses, buy TWO 10 dose vials rather
than a 50 dose vial. That 50 dose vial that had 20 doses removed is unlikely
to be sterile when you come back 6 months or a year later to do "another

4. Accurate administration - give sub Q preferably, not IM. IM increases
likelihood of adverse reaction because of accidental IV administration. (Most
vaccine reactions are sterile abscesses that break and drain. Although these
are unsightly, one that breaks and drains from just under the skin is far
less likely to cause a problem than one that has to break and drain from
deep in a muscle.)

5. Pull back on plunger before administration - make sure you are not in a
vein. (Even a small amount of vaccine can cause reactions when given in a
vein or artery. If the animal jumps around, re-check your position.)

6. Administer in a clean site. ZEN of vaccination: Part the fiber - "see the
site - be the site"

7. Avoid using multidose syringes - These are far more likely to cause a
problem because of contamination.

8. Store vaccine correctly - usually in a refrigerator, at minimum cool,
dark place. Absolutely follow label storage directions.  Do you know your
supplier - was the vaccine shipped correctly, stored correctly, how close to
the "out of date" date is the vial, etc. You get what you pay for.

9. Talk to your vet - have a plan to deal with vaccine reactions. Plans do
no good when they are made after the fact. Discuss risk assessments to
decide what vaccines are "critical", which ones are "optional", and which
are "not needed".

10. There are no labeled vaccines for camelids so ALL vaccines are used
extralabel. You assume the risk in giving them. I feel comfortable in saying
that far more camelids have been helped by vaccines than have ever been hurt
by them, but that does not mean that there are any guarantees.

David E Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS
College of Veterinary Medicine


Hay Testing

  Q  How is proper sampling done?
        A  Ideally this is done by core sampling of stacked bales where 6-10 core samples are taken, mixed and submitted for analysis. Or, in  the case of pasture, samples should be pluck gathered, mixed and  submitted during the various seasons of the growing season.

Most State Extension offices will let you borrow a hay probe and the test is relatively inexpensive (generally under $15).
There are many forage testing laboratories.

Q  Where do we send them?

NFTA (The National Forage Testing Association) Certified labs can be found on their website: select 'Certified Labs' and then download the certified list for the current year.

Some of the Colorado/Kansas/Nebraska NFTA listed labs are:  Dodge City, KS, Hastings, NE and Amarillo, TX    



Free choice mineral should be available at all times. The basic formula outlined below is available commercially.  It should be the only source of salt and mineral available.

Camelid mineral supplement: 50# trace-mineral salt, 50# steamed bone meal*, 50# dry powdered molasses, 10# Zinpro 100'

Table 1 - Mineral Mix Analysis    
Protein 8.5%   Mn 1025ppm    
Fat 4.0%   Cu 145ppm    
Fiber 4.4%   Co 34ppm    
Ash 63%   Zn 5632ppm    
TDN 25.5%   Fe 624ppm    
Ca 6.3%   Mb 20ppm    
Mg 0.016%   Se 4.9ppm    
Na 14.0%          
S 0.7%          
Modifications of mineral mix in Table 1
High alfalfa diet or springtime pastures   

Replace 25 lbs of bone meal* with monosodium phosphate

Stored forage 

Add 5 lbs of vitamin E (227,000IU of d,l-alpha tocopheryl acetate/lb)

Selenium supplement if necessary Up to 90 parts per million of selenium
Prevent grass tetany 1.5 lbs of magnesium oxide

* Steamed bone meal, although never shown a direct connect with BSE, has had some concerns using it in minerals for mammals. Many of the minerals mixes have switched to Monosodium Phosphate.

Recently there has been a concern about feeding bone meal. As you (should) know, Mad Cow Disease has been linked to feeding animal

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There is an internet site with vet med e-books called IVIS. Here you can find a book on reproduction, primarily of camels, with full text articles, etc.

David E Anderson, DVM, MS

The Ohio State University



Discussions on Reproduction in New World Camelids: 
Optimizing Reproductive Efficiency

Michelle L. Hedrick, Veterinary Student (Class of 2005)
David E Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS

Alpacas and llamas are South American Camelids. Both species are native to high altitudes in various areas of the Andes and Alto Plano of South America.  The fiber that is yielded from the alpaca and the growing popularity of both species as pets has resulted in both alpacas and llamas being raised in many countries throughout the world.  To support the growing market, animal management and production systems are developed in order to optimize reproductive capabilities and increase the efficiency and success of breeding.  (Cortez 114)

A limitation in raising camelid livestock has to do with their reproductive physiology.  Both alpacas and llamas have a long gestational period (approx. 350 days) and the females are uniparous, which means that they only give birth to a single offspring.  Females are also induced ovulators, that is when the cervix is stimulated, there is a surge in LH (lutenizing-hormone), which causes ovulation. This differs from cattle,
horses, sheep, goats, and people all of whom are spontaneous ovulators, that is these species ovulated evertime cycle. Thus, camelids show ovarian activity throughout the year and are capable of breeding, conceiving, and giving birth at any time of the year.  An advantage to this is that mating can be timed so that parturition will occur during the season in which pasture is most nutritionally sound.  In South America, "Spring matings are carried out from mid-October to mid-December to ensure that the subsequent births and lactation are timed to coincide with peak pasture growth". In North America, spring breedings might occur in March through May. Research at Ohio State University has shown that spring crias have the fewest problems with disease during the period from birth to weaning.

The mechanisms for controlling parturition are not well understood in alpacas and llamas.  In several South American studies, it was shown that births almost always occur during the day, frequently in the morning and usually in calm weather.  This suggests that alpacas and llamas can delay giving birth in order to avoid unfavorable conditions.  (Bruce 297, 300)

         Follicle wave generation can recommence within 24 hours of giving birth in South American Camelids.  However, fertile matings are not usually possible for at least 2 weeks after parturition.  Ovulatory follicles are sometimes seen as soon as 7 days postpartum, but uterine involution isn't completed until 15-18 days after conceiving.  Therefore, it is said that alpacas and llamas are able to successfully breed by 15 days postpartum, but that conception rates are improved at 21 and 30 days postpartum as compared to those at 2 weeks postpartum.  This leaves a very small window of opportunity between conceiving and mating in order to maintain a 12-month reproductive cycle. (Gorden 195)

         Three basic breeding techniques are used in camelids: natural service pasture-breeding, natural service pen-breeding, and natural service paddock-mating. Natural service refers to the fact that the male is actually breeding the female as opposed to artificial service where semen is collected from a male and deposited at the desired time in the desired female. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.  (Purdy 2000) Field-Breeding: Concept  One male is placed in a pasture with  several females.

Advantages      Most natural method Limited labor
Optimal conception rates (esp for novice breeder owners)

Disadvantages   Behavior and receptivity often not observed.
Uncertainty about breeding dates.
Disruption of breeding program if stud male not fertile.

Pen-Breeding: Concept  One male and one female are placed in a pen for a period of time (1 to 7 days).

Advantages      Breeding dates can be more accurately determined.

Disadvantages   Males have more aggressive libido
Females may be over bred, resulting in decreased fertility or infection.

Paddock-Mating: Concept  Each female is introduced to the stud male individually for short periods of time and breeding is only allowed to take place if the female is receptive to the male.

Advantages      Behavior and receptivity easily observed.
Breeding dates are known.
Duration of breeding activity is known.
Disadvantage    Male has very dominant, aggressive libido and may cause more severe bruising, etc in reproductive tract which can lower conception rates
Observation of receptive behavior of female may give "false positives" because female "submits" to domineering male

In a study performed at Tara Hills High Country Research Station in 1996, pen-breeding was more successful in terms of the numbers of pregnancies with respect to the number of matings.  (Bruce 299)  Obviously, there are endless combinations and modifications of these breeding regimens. Experienced breeders have often developed methods that are extremely successful and unique to their farm.

Artificial insemination (A.I.), in vitro fertilization (I.V.F.), and embryo transfer (E.T.) are not commonly used in alpacas and llamas.  The reason that A.I. isn't usually done is mostly due to the difficulty of semen
collection.  Male alpacas will breed a female for an average of 25 minutes.  They are "dribble ejaculators" and deposit a relatively small amount of semen into the female. Semen deposition is intracornual, with the
female in a ventral recumbent position ("cushed"). Some methods that have been employed to collect semen from alpacas have included condoms or vaginal sacs, electro-ejaculation, vaginal sponges and cannulation of the male's urethra.  However, the most reliable samples have been collected via a "dummy" female with an artificial vagina heated to the appropriate temperature and equipped with a stricture that is made to resemble a natural cervix.  According to a study conducted in Peru in 1993, pregnancy rates were higher when the collected semen was deposited directly through the cervix, into the left uterine horn, rather than via the intracornual deposition by laparoscopy. (Bravo 619, 624)

         In vitro fertilization is a technique by which eggs are collected from a donor female and are matured and fertilized in a laboratory for subsequent implantation into a recipient female. (Safely 2001) Compared with ruminant species, llamas have an accelerated rate of embryonic development, but it takes longer for their oocytes to mature.  According to Gorden, the accelerated development may have something to do with the early maternal recognition of pregnancy that has to occur.  During this period of time, there is a transient decrease and then a recovery in progesterone concentrations and a muted pulsatile release of prostaglandin (as compared with non-pregnant animals). (Aba 88)  In an experiment done by Del Campo in 1994, scientists concluded that the I.V.F system could be employed with llamas using "abattoir material" (slaughter-house tissue) and that llama oocytes could "be fertilized in the presence of heparin and epididymal sperm". (Gordon 203)  The text did not specifically discuss the success rate of such a procedure, only that it was possible.

         Embryo transfer is a technique that has been developed to, among other things, increase the number of offspring born.  In a study conducted by Mr. & Mrs. Paul Taylor and published in the Alpaca Registry Journal, a protocol for this was established.  First, a donor female was super-ovulated with injections of FSH (follicle-stimulating-hormone).  The super-ovulated female was then bred to a stud male, producing several embryos at the same time.  The embryos were then collected and transferred to recipient females.  The recipient females subsequently gave birth to fraternal triplets. (As previously discussed, this is relatively un-heard of in New World camelids.)

         As you can imagine, different producers tend to have favorite methods in which to run his or her farm.  Breeding management is one of the most important functions of a breeding farm manager. To avoid reproductive failures in camelids, producers should seek out as much information as possible before employing their breeding programs.


Gorden, Ian  (1997)  Controlled Reproduction in Horses, Deer & Camelids.
                         New York:  CAB INTERNATIONAL

Aba, M.A., Auza, N., Forsberg, M., Kindahl, H. & M.
Quiroga   Levels of  Progesterone and changes in PGF2  alpha release during luteolysis and early pregnancy in llamas and the effect of treatment with flunixin meglumine. 

Animal Reproduction Science, 59: 88

Bravo, P.W, Flores, U., Garnica, J. & C. Ordonez. Collection of Semen
                         Artificial Insemination of Alpacas..
Theriogenology, 47: 619

Bruce, G.D., Davis, G.H., Dodds, K.G & G.H Moore.  Seasonal
effects of
                         Gestation length and birth weight in alpacas.  Animal
                         Reproduction Science, 46: 297-303

Cortez, Sandra, Ferrando, German, Gazitua, Francisca J., Parraguez,
                         Victor H. & Luis A. Raggi.  Early pregnancy diagnosis in Alpaca (Lama pacos) and llama (Lama glama) by Ultrasound. Animal Reproduction Science, 47: 113-121

Taylor, Paul.  Embryo Transfer in South American Camelids.
                         Alpaca Registry Journal. Spring 2000.


                    Author: Stephen R. Purdy, D.V.M

                      Author:  Michael Safely

              International Camelid Institute  David E Anderson, DVM, MS




QUESTION: There is a lot of dialogue of late regarding whipworm in camelids and control of manure. Some say whipworm is not species specific and others that say that it is. The issue mostly revolves around potential exposure by camelids to canine or cat feces infected or potentially infected and vice versa.
Since there appears to be more than one opinion, I was hoping you could
assist in shedding some light on the subject that I could share. Are
there animal specific species of whipworms?

ANSWER: Whipworms (Trichuris sp.) are somewhat species specific. For
example, camelids are not  susceptible to canine (T vulpis) or swine (T
suis) whipworm  infection, but most certainly are susceptible to whipworms
from cattle/sheep/goats (e.g. T ovis and of cattle is T discolor).

Thus, there are species barriers when the difference is great enough.
Trichuris species specifically identified in camels include T globulosa, T
cameli, and T skrjabini. The main Trichuris of SA Camelids seems to be T
ovis, the sheep whip, but T tenuis has been identified.

The eggs survive on pasture for years through extremes of temperatures.
Thus, clinical infestations are often most severe after a drought because
the other "competing" parasites have died away leaving only the infective

These worms are hard to treat. I prefer fenbendazole at 20 mg/kg body
weight for a minimum of 3 and preferably 5 days in a row. Re-treatment is
advisable in 6 to 8 weeks because rapid re-infection is common!

David E Anderson, DVM, MS

             International Camelid Institute

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