Plasma Infusion

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This is a health technique that is practised more in Australia than NZ at this point in time. We have been given permission by Geoff Neal (formerly of Manawatu Veterinary Services, but now at Te Kuiti Vet Services) to print his excellent presentation on this subject. Please click here to read about the applications for this procedure. This is a life saving procedure! Primarily used as a colostrum replacement for “at-risk” cria, it can also be used to give a health boost to older cria that are not thriving (up to 4 or 5 months old).

We made a decision to keep some frozen plasma on hand all the time – and it has already paid off! When Emma’s cria “Ngahere” was born, he was very weak, and going downhill. Too weak to stand, we were hand feeding him, and keeping him warm with a cria cover, hotwater bottles and bubble wrap, but it wasn’t enough – he was becoming too weak to even suckle from a bottle. A plasma infusion not only gave him the antibodies he was failing to obtain from his mother, but also gave him an energy ¬†boost to the point that he eventually stood and then suckled naturally from his dam. He has never looked back!

Frozen plasma has a shelf life of only 12 months, so you will need to keep replacing it if it isn’t used, but given the short time frame you have with a failing cria, it would be impractical to wait until you had a cria at risk before you attempt to obtain some. Given the value of your cria, male or female, it is false economy to ignore this potentially life saving procedure.

Geoff has included notes you can pass onto your vet on how to administer the plasma. You can print these instructions to hand to your vet.

Blood donors: Unfortunately, while this plasma infusion is a useful tool in maintaining at-risk cria, obtaining it is not so easy. We feel that the best donor animal is one that lives on your property as his plasma will contain antibodies to those risks likely to be encountered by your cria. Obtaining blood from your alpaca is also a veterinary procedure, so you will need to discuss with your vet whether they are willing to take blood from your prospective donor.

There are a few basic requirement that your blood donor must fulfill:

  • must be over 2 years old
  • must not be pregnant
  • must be healthy

This means the only feasible donor is usually an adult wether. In order to donate blood, your alpaca must be sitting in an upright (“cush”) position with his head elevated. He can be sedated by your vet! You will need to chukka your donor to get him into the appropriate cush position and ¬†and lift his head up and back.