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					                                                    thirty days. This preventive herd health

         A Microscope                               procedure goes a long way towards
                                                    eliminating repercussions associated with
                                                    an infestation by any one of the various

            Can Help                                types of parasites that can affect camelids.
                                                       Many people, however, may not think
                                                    of a microscope as an integral part of an

   Your Breeding Program                            alpaca-breeding program. As alpaca
                                                    breeders, we are always concerned about
                                                    the amount of sperm that a male is
                         by Ed Friedman             producing. At Mountain Edge Alpacas             Photo above : Mr. Mark Hoffman, Ranch Manager
                   Mountain Edge Alpacas            one of the tests that we frequently             at Mountain Edge Alpacas and the developer of this
                                                    perform occurs right after the mating of          technique, is shown using a quality microscope to
                                                                                                                       examine a slide.




A
     microscope is a versatile piece of             a male and female. More often than not,
     equipment that can provide many                after the male has completed
     useful services for an alpaca                  penetration, there is a discharge from
                                                                                                   About the Author
     breeder. Today, microscopes can                                                                     Ed Friedman and his wife, Charlene, are
                                                    the female vulva (see photograph A).
                                                                                                   the owners of Mountain Edge Alpacas located in
be purchased relatively inexpensively,              This discharge can then be transferred         State College, Pennsylvania. They specialize in
either new or used, from medical                    to a microscope slide (see photograph          helping new breeders get started in the alpaca
supply companies. Smaller ones can be               B). When the slide is placed in a              business and supplying high quality breeding stock
bought through various scientific                   microscope, we can see the amount of           to experienced breeders.
catalogues and local stores.                        sperm present and whether there may be               Ed has developed seminars on various alpaca
  Most alpaca breeders associate a                  some deformed cells or problems with           topics and is a frequent contributor to the Alpacas
microscope with examining fecal samples                                                            Magazine. Before turning his attention to raising
                                                    sperm motility. This quick examination
                                                                                                   alpacas, Ed was a real estate developer and
to determine if there are any parasites             reveals valuable information about a           attorney and is also currently an adjunct professor
present in a specific animal. On our                male alpaca’s breeding ability at the          at Penn State University. Ed and his wife live on
ranch we do random fecal samples every              time. Additionally, this test may help us      a 175 acre ranch with their 48 alpacas, five dogs
                                                    determine whether the male or female is        and a red-tailed hawk. They can be reached at
 A
                                                    responsible for a female’s infertility.        ed@mountainedgealpacas.com.
                                                       Sometimes when the microscope slide
                                                    is examined after a mating, we can detect
                                                    red blood cells. If there is a bloody
                                                    discharge (which is not always a cause
                                                    for alarm because many times it happens
                                                    as a natural consequence of mating) we
                                                    can then be alerted about a possible
                                                    problem. In some instances alpaca
                                                    owners tend to over breed their females,
                                                    which can result in a serious or
                                                    permanent injury. Thus, if red blood
                                                    cells are found repeatedly on a slide, a
 Photo above shows discharge from female alpaca’s
               vulva after mating.                  veterinarian should be consulted.
                                                       A discharge can also be examined to see
 B                                                  if there may be a substantial amount of a
                                                    particular bacteria present in the female
                                                    vulva. The presence of bacteria can give
                                                    us a clue that the female might have a
                                                    uterine infection, which may make it very
                                                    difficult for her to be impregnated.
                                                    Frequently, a uterine flush and/or
                                                    antibiotics can eliminate the bacteria.
                                                       In conclusion, the microscope is a
                                                    purely optional herd health aid.
                                                    However, the benefits of owning a
                                                    microscope far outweigh the initial cost
                                                    and can often lead to a more accurate
 Photo above shows the author obtaining sample by
                                                    and successful breeding program.
  pressing microscope slide gently against vulva.
                                                                         ■

                     The Camelid Quarterly                               1                         June 2002

				
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