Archive for March, 2013

From copper came gold…..

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
From Copper Came Gold

From Copper Came Gold

Alchemists in the Middle Ages believed (among other things) that it was possible to turn base metals (like copper& iron) into gold. Science has now proven that to be an impossible goal! However, here at The Alpaca Place, the use of a little copper has turned to gold….for this modern miracle, read on.

Some two and half years ago, one of our top females, Sintimani Gold started losing weight, when she was halfway through a pregnancy. After checking the normal reasons for weight loss didn’t apply, we had a blood test taken which came back with the result, copper deficiency. Our vet was not encouraging – the 2 normal treatments in other stock animals were either Copper Bullets (an oral medication conisisting of minute copper filaments), or by copper injection. How an alpacas unique digestive system would deal with a copper bullet was unknown, but the medication was likely to be fatal. A copper injection is extremely painful and leads to massive scarring at the injection site. Either way, Sintis unborn cria would die, and there was a strong possiblity Sinti would also. However, leaving Sinti untreated would also ultimately lead to her death. Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t! We sought a second opinion from a vet who specialises in alpacas, and the diagnosis was essentially the same, although he did suggest splitting the injection into 2 doses might be less likely to be fatal to Sinti.

By now Sinti had around 3 months to run on her pregnancy. As any treatment was likely to kill her unborn cria, we decided to wait until he was born before starting treatment. In the event, after a full term pregnancy, the cria was stillborn anyway.

However in the meantime, Cheryl had done some research into feed supplements, and had tracked down a horse supplement called Tracemol which contained small quantities of copper. We had found the product, but sourcing locally turned out to be impossible, however we were able to obtain some from the national wholesalers. We started dosing Sinti with 2ml per day. As we saw Sinti improving we reduced the frequency to twice weekly, then weekly.

Some months later we thought Sinti looked pretty good, and as we wanted to breed her again, we had a blood test taken to check her copper levels – they were in the normal range! So we went ahead and mated her to Forestglen Lion Heart.

Last week her beautiful golden cria was born – birth weight over 8kg, and a girl to boot! A little bit of copper has netted us gold….