We would like to share our recent experience of using the Enferplex test on our Chalford herd of alpacas.
Why did we use the Enferplex test ?
Lots of reasons. We wanted confirmation our herd was free of bovine TB. We had done everything possible to prevent it but we are in a high risk area and there have been multiple confirmed cases in alpacas in this region. We certainly did not want to unknowingly sell an alpaca with TB. Then, in March 2016 we had a very rare opportunity to purchase an exceptional black stud male to add to our breeding program. We wanted him to be safe. And our vet strongly recommended that we did!
However, as with all tests, we were concerned about sensitivity, specificity and the risk of false positives. No test is perfect but the Enferplex test was developed with help from the British Camelid industry specifically for camelids as an extra tool in testing them for bovine TB. It was designed for whole herd surveillance screening.
Following research, consultation and careful deliberation (and a fair bit of courage it has to be said!) we voluntarily blood sampled all 46 of our alpacas using the Enferplex test at the 4 antigen level for the highest specificity. Every alpaca tested negative at the 4 antigen level. Two animals were borderline inconclusive at the 2 antigen level, but were clear on their retest 3 weeks later after the first sample was taken. So, we have determined all animals to be free of bovine TB – at this time.
So was it worth it? It was stressful waiting for the results which take 2 weeks and we did have to pay for it but… Undoubtedly Yes!
Our herd is to the best of knowledge TB free, we can manage our herd without risk to our own health or that of our vets and visitors, we can sell with confidence, and that niggling background worry has been eliminated. It is so rewarding to know that high standards of bio security can and does work. Once you commit to this you have to see it through, which is when the stress kicks in, but the rewards in our opinion are worth it. We have learnt a lot too. If we had had positive results at least we would have known and could have minimised the potential consequences. We believe this test is a real step forward and a necessary tool in herd health management.
This test is not an accreditation scheme and going forward we will continue to use Enferplex for animals bought, sold and exported as part of our sales and bio security policy. Now we are no longer a closed herd by definition, we are even considering offering drive by matings for pre-movement tested alpacas! (Those of you that know me will know that is a big deal!) And to celebrate, we will shortly be releasing our sales list for 2016.
A little herd history…
A little herd history…We have been breeding quality black and coloured alpacas under the Chalford prefix since 2002 and are based in South Gloucestershire. We showed our alpacas in halter shows until 2009 with great success, winning the Futurity Small Breeders Award in 2008 with only 3 blacks, judged by Mike Safley and Paul Cullen. We have never had a suspicion of TB in our herd but decided at that time that safety was the most important factor for us. There was no point in breeding beautiful alpacas only to risk losing them and the genetic gain we had built up.
So, our farm perimeter was fenced using buried badger fencing which is also electrified along the top. Our bio security protocols were already in place and strictly adhered to. Our Chalford alpacas only leave the farm when sold (since 2009). In 2013 we bought in 3 males including MFI Kapow by MFI Peruvian Black Mesquite. We have recently purchased a new male, WD Miguel of Fowberry who was also tested willingly by his owners prior to delivery and at their own expense. Our sales include exports to European countries as well as throughout the UK.
I am very happy to discuss our experience with anyone who has questions. However, the link for more information is http://www.surefarm.co.uk/
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