This article was sent to me by Mark Steele of Patou Alpacas in the UK. You can follow his blog here and I am sure if you have any questions about the benefits of Bovine colostrum, Mark would be delighted to hear from you.
Patou Tsar was born at 10.30am on a wet and windy 11th of July 2012. He was the second of three cria born that morning within an hour and a half of each other. Having never had three cria born on the same day before and having just said goodbye to Sue as she ventured off shopping I was, to say the least, in full panic mode!
Tsar was a healthy 8.60kg and had been born following a gestation period of 357 days. His mother, Patou Amelie was a second time mother and her first cria had been healthy from the word go, she was a good and attentive mother. Everything started off well with Tsar feeding heartily within the first couple of hours. Millie had plenty of milk and all appeared fine and dandy.
Up until that day most of the years cria had been born in atrocious weather and we had lost three cria, one born a month premature and two that succumbed to a nasty case of diarrhoea. We had been advised by our vet to treat all new-borns with a precautionary injection of anti-biotics (Amoxypen) immediately following birth and for a further two days in order to prevent the same diaorrhea bug from striking. We were very apprehensive as you can imagine.
We weigh all new cria every day for the first two weeks to ensure that they are putting on weight as they should and did so with Tsar. It is normal for a cria to lose weight in the first 24 hours so we weren’t concerned when Tsar did. However, he continued to lose weight and although Millie had plenty of milk and Tsar was under her frequently something was obviously not right. After three days we stepped in and started bottle feeding him as a supplement to his mothers milk. After a month he weighed over 11 kilos and we continued to top him up with powdered ewes milk.
On the 28th of October Tsar weighed 18.10kg and seemed to be thriving. We had weaned him off the bottle and he was feeding regularly from Millie as well as grazing. He was smaller than the other cria but he felt in good condition and my records show that when carrying out a herd check on the 17th of November I had scored him a 4 on the 1-5 condition scale. He was now out with the other mothers and cria. He had been routinely wormed at the end of September, treated with Baycox Bovis (to prevent Coccidiosis) at the beginning of October and given Fasinex (against Liver Fluke) on the 17th of November. He was also on monthly injections of Vitamin A,D & E.
On the 29th of November (12 days after he scored 4) I checked him and he was as thin as a rake and weighed 15 kg. A fecal sample revealed the presence of a worm called Nematodirus. This particular worm was resistant to the wormer that I had been using, Panomec. Tsar was treated with Panacur and then Zolvix, a new type of wormer. We also treated him with a course of broad spectrum anti-biotics.
He was moved into a shed with his mother and we monitored him closely. His weight fluctuated as we tried to bottle feed him again, he fought against it every time. By mid January he had bad diarrhoea and we again treated him with Baycox and a course of anti-biotics (Baytril).
His mother had become very disinterested in him and wouldn’t let him feed. We moved her out and moved another cria in. We removed all food apart from a mixture of alfalfa chaff mixed with an all in one pelleted feed and micronized peas. We also gave him Pro-rumen three times a day to stimulate his gut bacteria and treated him with Kaogel to try and firm up the diaorrhea. He also had Effadryl tablets in his water to replace the minerals that he was obviously losing.
A further fecal sample revealed the presence of a protozoa called Giardia which we treated with a five day course of Panacur. We started to give him multi-vitamin injections weekly.
Tsar continued to lose weight and we just couldn’t stop the diarrhoea. I thought that it was only a matter of time before he died. The one thing that we held onto was the fact that he never stopped eating and drinking, he never gave up and as long as he was fighting, we would be fighting. On a day to day basis it changed from a winning battle to a losing one. Our emotions were all over the place.
On the 9th of February (he weighed just over 16kg) we carried out transfaunation in an attempt to stimulate his gut bacteria. We rounded up our spittiest female (Bobby) and whilst holding a bag over her nose I ‘tickled’ her. Suitably wound up she coated the inside of the bag with the green stuff. This was then mixed up with Pro-rumen and drenched into Tsar.
We were running out of ideas. The vets had given up on Tsar saying that some never recover; he was the alpaca equivalent to a ‘tail-end lamb’. That just wasn’t good enough I’m afraid, we knew we were on our own from now on and we knew we would keep fighting as long as Tsar had breath in his body. By this time Tsar was in a bad way, his fleece was falling out in clumps, he was staggering about and he was a pitiful sight, but, and this was crucial, he kept on eating.
I can’t remember how or why I thought of using Bovine Colostrum, I had read an article in the SWAG Newsletter and it had stuck in my memory I guess. I phoned the vet to ask for advice. “What is the scientific background to it?” was the question I was asked. When I replied that there was none just several cases in New Zealand and America where it had been thought responsible for repairing gut linings in alpacas the idea was dismissed summarily. I then stopped talking to the vets altogether regarding Tsar. When science fails you need to go somewhere else.
Using my initiative I managed to get hold of a litre of frozen cow colostrum. It came from a small private herd of four dairy cows. They were fed organically, were treated largely homeopathically and were, as far as I could determine, disease free, which was vitally important.
The theory was that Tsars gut lining had been badly damaged by the infestation of Nematodiris and that was why despite eating almost constantly he was failing to gain weight. The theory continued that with the use of the Bovine Colostrum his gut lining would repair to some extent and that he would once again be able to absorb nutrients. If we couldn’t achieve this he would die, it was as simple as that. This was the last chance we had.
On the 10th of February (weight 16kg) we started with the Colostrum. 1ml of Colostrum per kilo of body weight twice a day. It was in a solid litre block so we used a saw to slice off the right amount each day. It was a thick yellow creamy substance when defrosted and obviously smelled and tasted good as Tsar took it readily.
Two days after starting the Colostrum he started to put on weight, only 50 grams at a time but there was a definite weight gain. The weight gain quickened and after a week he had put on a kilo.
The second week of administering Colostrum he put on two kilos!
We increased the amount of Colostrum daily and after 17 days it was all gone. By this time Tsar was putting on weight steadily and by the 5th of March (23 days after starting the Colostrum) he had gained six kilograms!
I am writing this article on the 26th of March 2013 and yesterday Tsar weighed 25.25kilos, a massive nine kilo gain in a little under six weeks! Tsar is now full of life and has been charging around the paddock. He is now scoring a solid 3 on the condition scale and is a completely different animal to the weanling that was close to death two months ago. I can put this extraordinary turnaround down to two things. Firstly, Tsar never ever gave up, he continued to eat and drink throughout even though he was at times incredibly weak and secondly the bovine colostrum. I can’t prove it, there is no science behind it but I have no doubt in my mind that the colostrum was the major factor in his recovery.