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Sample Collection

Collect pasture samples throughout the paddock, not just in a single area. Aim to get a good representation of the paddock as a whole.

Cut the pasture off a grazing height (which is usually 1cm above soil level). Try to avoid collecting soil and faeces as they make spore counting more difficult.

Spore Isolation

Measure out 60g (2 oz) of fresh grass into a sealable container and add 600ml (1 pint) of cold tap water.

Seal and shake vigorously for around 3-4 minutes. The water will appear green-tinged when finished.

Use a pipette dropper or similar piece of equipment to fill a haemocytometer slide with wash water (Webmaster’s note: A Spore Count Kitset is available from farming retail outlets which contains all the equipment necessary). Try to avoid placing small pieces of grass onto the slide. The slide must be dry prior to filling with grass wash water, as water will dilute the count quite considerably.

Counting Spore

View the haemocytometer slide at 100x magnification and count the number of spores seen within the 5 marked sections of the slide. Include those spores that sit on the line on the lower and right hand sides of each section.

(note: spores look like tiny hand grenades and are easily identifiable)

Record the number of spores seen and then empty the slide out. You may need to blow out some of the remaining liquid. (Note: Kitsets mentioned above contain 5-10 disposable sectors on one slide-makes this part of the task easier!)



Repeat the process three more times so that a total of 20 individual sectors are checked.

Sum (add) the total of all spores seen for the 20 sectors. Multiply this number by 5000 to give the total spore numbers in spores/gram of grass.


Interpretation


More than 40,000 spores/g

Pasture is dangerous to alpacas. Avoid grazing

10,000-40,000 spores/g

Pasture is dangerous to alpacas. Restrict grazing

Under 10,000 spores/g

Pasture is relatively safe BUT spore levels can rise suddenly especially during Jan/Feb


Compare this to values given for other species (sheep etc) to see how vulnerable your alpaca is:

More than 200,000 spores/g

Pasture is dangerous to animals. Avoid grazing

100,000-200,000 spores/g

Pasture is dangerous to animals. Restrict grazing

Under 100,000 spores/g

Pasture is relatively safe BUT spore levels can rise suddenly especially during Jan/Feb