Pushing Through to Healing

What a weird week. For reasons I cannot fathom, conventional treatment for our little alpaca boys eludes me at every turn. Of course, treating alpacas is probably unconventional by definition, but still, how hard should this be? Holiday weekend, alpaca vet's extended vacation, common vitamin available by prescription only, total absence of any other vet willing to give me a break.... it all adds up to a mandate to Take Things Into My Own Hands.

Thankfully, I do have plenty of allies. I've had great counsel and advice and research help given by alpaca friends and just plain friends, and it has been such a balm.

Today, the strong general consensus is that the little boys found a place in our stack of new hay that was moldy. Moldy hay causes something called Polioencephalomalacia in alpacas. Alpaca polio causes trembling, wobbliness and if left untreated, blindness. The B vitamin thiamine is clearly the remedy for this reversible condition. And nowhere can I get my hands on any thiamine in a form that will be helpful without a vet's prescription. WHY?

Since I haven't been able to get a vet to "treat" my alpacas over the holiday, or by extension, write me a scrip for thiamine, I'm doing the next best thing: Brewer's Yeast. This remedy was suggested to me by a pretty knowledgeable breeder in Oklahoma. But he didn't mention how to get 2 tsp of Brewer's Yeast into an alpaca. I thought this up myself: mix the fine yeast powder with yogurt (had strawberry on hand) and a little warm water, fill big fat syringe with widened tip, and convince alpaca that this is liquid candy.

Micah was a tough sell, and spewed a proportion of his gruel on my jacket. But I think he got quite a bit down. Boaz kind of liked the stuff at first, but got bored with the process before we were done. He also got most of it down. There was no big "TA DA" transformation, but I really do believe they are much less wobbly this evening. It's been a gradual thing. We've had them away from the bad hay for a couple of days, checked fecals (negative), given wormer, antibiotic and B complex. They've been confined to their stall for a couple of days and are getting really tired of that, but I think it's helping.

Tomorrow I hope to actually reach the alpaca vet and beg him for thiamine to get this thing solved once and for all. My friend Cyndi and I are also off to the wholesale fabric store tomorrow to make coats for our vulnerable alpacas - a serious blue norther is on its way Wednesday night.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your notes and calls, and virtual hugs. The boys and I really appreciate them.


  1. Sounds like you are on your way to licking this mess. You are in my prayers.

  2. Liz, if all this crap served to get us to talk to God more, it was worth it. ;-) xoxo

  3. Sounds like you've found a good solution. Vitamin B - that's what I'm taking for my allergies. I'm amazed at your photos. *;)

  4. Em is my photographer on this post. She rocks.

  5. What a relief to read that the boys seem to be getting better in response to the Brewer's Yeast/yogurt cocktail. I think you picked a good role model in Dr. Herriott as this reminds me of his total perseverance in the face of limited resources and willingness to practice "silly" medicine, when necessary. Thank God and all the caring "earth angels" who have surrounded you, unlimited love is available 24/7, 365(6) days a year!!!

    My heart is with you in all you are doing for your precious flock. I just have one additional suggestion -- take extra good care of yourself, sweetie pie. AuntiE


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