We are very proud of our bio security. We have arguably the best bio security in the UK. It is not difficult and we would like other breeders to follow suit. In May 2016 we voluntarily blood tested every alpaca on the farm for bovine TB using the Enferplex test by Surefarm. Our herd tested negative using this highly specific screening test. We stopped showing in 2009 and ceased all movements because we are not comfortable with the degree of risk. An essential part of bio security in endemic btb areas, we have invested in buried perimeter fencing. We ensure our bio security protocols are adhered to. This is the best protection we have – good bio security works!
We have bought in four herd sires since 2009 to ensure we continue to advance our herd. With careful selection of the animals as well as the originating farm, we have found a level of risk we are comfortable with. Excellent quarantine facilities here are essential to manage on farm movements.
When purchasing any livestock species, it is worth taking some simple precautions to prevent introducing any unwanted diseases to your farm. Any seller should be happy to discuss their protocols, show you their herd health records and agree to pre-movement testing and a quarantine procedure. This is not over reaction, just sensible precautions to ensure you enjoy your animals to the full.
The definition of bio security is – Managing risks to minimise disease transmission.
Disease organisms we are determined not to introduce into our herd include intestinal worms, coccidia, mange mites, BVD, Johnes, bovine TB and any other organisms which may potentially cause disease and death. We strongly believe anyone wishing to purchase alpacas should be fully informed and we encourage potential purchasers to ask questions and view our herd health records.
Bio security is a widely used term but how do you know what is being implemented? Protocols before purchase, during travel, quarantine on arrival, testing prior to sale and robust farm bio security measures should be determined and implemented. Relatively simple and usually inexpensive, risks can be minimised. We are very happy to show you our biosecurity check list.
Farm Bio security at Alpaca Power
Alpacas are generally hardy but, like all livestock, need to be managed with care. We apply sound farming practices and make positive changes based on scientific facts. We work closely with our vets to ensure we have the highest herd health status possible. We keep up to date with national and regional disease trends and review our Herd Health plan regularly. We implement good farm management protocols and use respectful handling methods to minimise stress and ensure our alpacas remain happy and relaxed.
Our alpacas live on 25 acres of permanent pasture which in 2013 became fully protected by permanent badger proof fencing. In addition to this, we have electrified the top of the fence with mains power which is monitored constantly. Not a cheap option but definitely worth it for our peace of mind and as those choosing to purchase our alpacas. This project was a major undertaking with 2000m fenced and 3 weeks work for 4 people!
Animal health monitoring is important and we carry out faecal testing on a regular basis. We have also checked for Johnes disease and BVD in the past and again in May 2016 and these tests have proved negative. Combined with rotation of fields, low stocking rates and treatment only when necessary, we minimise herd internal parasites and the risk of drug resistance. Within the farm all feed and water troughs are cleaned regularly and any leftover feed disposed of immediately. Alpaca deaths (thankfully rare on this farm) are recorded and post mortems are always carried out.
BAS statement on Closed Herds
The term “closed herd” is sometimes used by members to describe their herd or herd status. Unfortunately this has led to some confusion as there are two aspects of a herd that can both be described as “closed” and these attributes can be used together or singly:
1. Physical separation to enhance bio security.
2. Genetic makeup
The BAS recognise the following definitions of a closed herd when they have been implemented for at least 12 months:
1. A group of alpacas contained on a farm with a single County Parish Holding Number (CPH) whereby no animals are brought onto the holding and no alpacas leave and then return to the holding.
2. A group of alpacas within a herd that have no new genetic material added to it.
Members are advised to ask for further information from anyone displaying ‘Closed Herd’ status if they wish to be sure in which way the term is being used, before they carry out business.
Alpaca Power complied with both points until May 2016 when a new male was introduced. The addition of new bloodlines is important in order to continue genetic improvement. We now have arguably the best true black bloodlines from both the USA and Australia in MFI Kapow and Warramunga Downs Miguel of Fowberry respectfully.
Visitors to Alpaca Power
We ask that all visitors to the farm respect our wishes with regard to our bio security requests. These include;
Parking vehicles where requested
Wearing clean clothing when visiting
Washing hands before and after handling alpacas
Washing footwear before disinfection or wearing boots or overboots supplied by us
Using disinfectant foot baths. These contain an approved disinfectant at the correct concentration
A word about Alpacas and bovine TB
Alpacas (camelids) are classed as an overspill species with regard to Bovine TB. It is worth remembering that Bovine TB is a zoonotic disease, ie. people can contract it. When buying alpacas, we recommend looking for breeders who demonstrate strict bio security and good management. Not all sellers believe we should be concerned… Bovine TB has been proven to be transmitted to alpacas from other species as well as between alpacas. Cattle farmers have had to deal with this disease for many, many years but the skin test in cattle is much more accurate. They also have pre-movement testing which is effective. The ‘skin test’ available for use in camelids only detects about 10% of positive cases. There are now blood tests available for use in camelids although test results should be viewed in conjunction with herd bio security measures. We recommend you ask for herd health status in writing and Enferplex screening results when buying any alpaca to rule out this awful disease. Whilst the BAS encourage alpacas to be shown in halter classes, a growing number of breeders, like us, prefer to keep our alpacas at home and show only their fleeces – a very simple and stress free way to have fleeces evaluated and scored by an approved BAS judge. When BAS insist on screening as an entry requirement for shows we will start attending shows again.
For more information about bovine TB go to www.alpacatb.org