Updated: May 26
Wednesday is already here! Time is flying this year. Shearing day was Monday evening. We hire traveling shearers and whenever they say they are coming, be ready! Experienced shearers are incredibly hard to find and you are at their mercy this time of year for the welfare of your animals.
Without shearing, alpaca would certainly die of heatstroke. In western Pennsylvania, we typically see highs in the mid-high eighties all summer. We haven't had an eighty degree day yet and the alpaca have been miserable. Since shearing day, their moods have changed drastically. They are bouncing around and cheerful.
Alpaca were bred domestically for shearing. In nature, fiber animals that were left unbred, untouched by human intervention, they shed their fibers on their own for survival. Humans bred these animals to maintain and grow their fibers for human use so without shearing, the animals would get very sick. There are still some sheep breeds left that naturally shed their fibers in wild and sometimes domesticated flocks. These sheep breeds are wild and lack great fiber quality.
Shifting gears, I wanted to talk about farm medicines. In the past, I've gone over what medicines I keep around for poultry care. Large livestock need different applications. It is really important to have a basic supply around in case of an emergency.
We keep ivermectin for both sheep and alpaca. The alpaca are injected ivermectin and the sheep take an oral drench on our farm. Ivermectin is a great dewormer and works for many uses. We also keep the antibiotic corid for alpaca. Alpaca are injected ivermectin monthly to treat for meningeal worm. If an alpaca does in fact contract meningeal work, it is oftentimes a death sentence. Alpaca get meningeal worm by grazing. Fields with lots of snails and deer often infect the grass but also eating grass that is too close to the ground can also spread the disease. Corid is the antibiotic used to treat m worm in conjunction with vet assistance.
Another medication we keep around is Terramycin. This is a topical antibiotic used to treat pink eye. We get pink eye in both our sheep and our alpaca at least once a year. Sometimes, it resolves itself but the alpaca can get seriously ill from it so I tend to give them a dose or two.
We keep basic first aid supplies such as wound care ointment and horse gauze bandages that we use for all livestock. We always have mite and parasite aids as well. Ivermectin injections do a very good job at eliminating most of these problems, however, we keep several topical sprays for mites for the alpaca that we get from a specialty alpaca store. We also keep vitamins such as free choice minerals for both the sheep and alpaca and an electrolyte mix for large livestock in case of emergencies.
For the sheep, I always keep a two pound bag of baking soda and oral probiotics. Sheep commonly have stomach issues and trouble digesting. I will put baking soda free choice for them if I suspect any trouble. If the sheep have any antibiotics, activated charcoal (which is given by a vet when they accidentally eat something poisonous), they often need a probiotic to help with digestion.
On June 11 in the United States, farmers will no longer be allowed to buy over the counter antibiotics for their livestock. I asked on Instagram what everyone would buy and I made a list to share. I plan to buy some Terramycin and corid but be aware that all of these expire so only buying one or two is plenty.
Instagram friends had the following input
Some of these require specific conditions and only last so long so stocking up is really not recommended but having an antibiotic on hand for emergency situations if you are like me and don't always have a vet nearby to come in a timely manner, couldn't hurt. This law is applying only to antibiotics so you will still be able to find and purchase dewormers, stomach aids, vitamins, etc over the counter.
Again, when administering any medications, please do so with the instruction and consult of your veterinarian. Every animals needs are so different and I am by no means giving advice for treatment. We keep these medicines on hand and use advice from our vet.
That is all I have for this week. If you have any other suggestions on how to prepare for the upcoming law change, comment below!