Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Pasture analysis!!

Oooh! I hear you exclaim, pasture analysis, that sounds ribticklingly exciting!!!!
Is ribticklingly a word? If not it should be. I will use it gratuitously in future, ribticklingly good.
Anyway the title refers to some pasture analysis that we have recently had done. Ooh err get me sounding like a proper farmer!

Pasture analyis? Why? I hear you all exclaim in unison! Well let me explain.

We have had a few minor ailments amongst the herd over the past couple of years, nothing major, mainly a bit of lethargy here and there, an upset tummy, an unexplained bald nose etc etc.
How were we to know that? I hear you squeak with deep concern

We have ruled out just about everything and all that was left was a possibility that there may be some sort of mineral deficiency in the pasture. So I phoned up a man who works for a company that does this sort of thing and supplies pasture/soil treatments to farmers, big farmers. After a chat with this very nice man he agreed to send off samples of our grass for analysis. He sent me a pre-paid envelope and I sent off a bag of grass collected from several areas of the field. The results came back and the man phoned me. I don't quite understand how or why but the test was carried out free of charge.
How is that I hear you shout? I don't know, as I've just said. But how cool is that, absolutely free! What a very nice man!

Anyway the upshot was that we have a Selenium deficiency in the grass. A couple of other minerals were also low and we had high levels of something that I have never heard of and can't remember. In fact I couldn't even pronounce it. Sue being a medical operative had and ridiculed me to the point of tears several times, openly laughing at my ignorance.
She never did, did she? I hear you question incredulously. Ok maybe not, but she could have done.

So what did we do next? I hear you all bellow impatiently?
Well here's what. We drenched the herd with a Camelid specific mineral drench.
NO! Yes we did, drenched the lot of them. Some of them didn't like that at all.

A few weeks later, Louise, our lovely vet came and took blood from five randomly selected members of the mighty Patou.

Why? Why did she do that? I hear you splutter exasperatedly?

Well, here's why.
Louise then sent the blood samples off for mineral analysis to see what their levels were now after the drench. That way we could see if the drench was sufficient to correct the mineral imbalance in their diet or if we needed to do more.

What more could you do, you seem to have done everything and more? I hear you sigh whilst slowly shaking your heads.
Ooooh what were the results of the blood tests? I hear you question embarrassingly (you had forgotten hadn't you?)

Well the results showed that the herd was still deficient in Selenium.
Ooooh!!!!!!!!! I hear you gasp!
What now? You shout!

Well here's what. We gave the mighty Patou herd an injection of something containing lots of Selenium, that's what we did.
Stunned silence from you I think..........what are you waiting for?

Well what now of the health of the mighty Patou herd? I hear you clamour with open arms and hope in your hearts.

Don't really know actually we are still pondering our next move. Camelibra again? Selenium jabs (my preferred option because we know they will all get enough) or something else. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime here is a picture of some kittens.

Belle (now seemingly fully recovered) and her brother Sebastian, a right pair of little terrors!

Apologies for tonights drivel, odd mood, very odd indeed!


Knapper Alpakka said...

Very interesting, Mark!

And very cute little kittens!

Tracey Hey said...

Hi Mark,

We've been giving our herd vitenium every three months for the last couple of years since soil testing revealed we had a selenium appears to be doing the trick!

Mark said...

Thanks Rolf.
Tracey, Will be chatting to you and the Inca warrior about the selenium thing on Saturday! Pray for sunshine!
I've slightly overdone it with the wine and beer, could launch a boat!

Lucy said...

We are in a selenium deficient area too - the N of Scotland, I believe, is particularly bad. We give ours feed supplement but should do as you have done. I researched this heavily a couple of years back and concluded that oral vitamin supplements just are not absorbed like those via plants. The trick is to get the selenium into the pasture via the soil. An application of rock dust on top of the grass would be my route of choice - it replenishes trace elements and enhances growth. The plants take up the elements and then the animals eat the grass... We live in an ancient land where glaciation and weathering have washed out most of the trace elements. Hence, they need put back in. Gardeners use rock dust and swear by it. You'd need one with selenium obviously - and it needs to be igneous rock, which has not been eroded or washed out. Not sure what that would be - I guess Altiplano dust would be perfect! I will leave you to Google it if you so wish.... Oh, sometimes you can get it from quarries - it's a waste product. You just sprinkle it on the land and the rain washes it in.

Suzanne said...

Have seen an ad in 'Alpaca' latest edition for somebody selling alpaca specific buckets of mineral licks - high in zinc and selenium , might be worth a look

Lucy said...

PS. Ultra cute kittens - I want them!