Up until this year we have never needed plasma, naively, perhaps foolishly, we have never kept a stock of it.
This is our seventh year of having cria born and this is the first year that we have had cause to require plasma. Luckily friends at Old Stour and Reddingvale Alpacas have helped us out by supplying us with their own plasma when we needed it.
So now is the time to get our own stock, and replace the plasma that we have used.
Yesterday, the lovely Louise, our vet, bounded up with her arms full of the equipment required for the process. We had spoken at length about what was needed and how we would go about the process of extracting blood from our alpacas and tranforming that into life saving plasma. I had spoken to others with knowledge of this procedure and the general consensus was that it was pretty simple. Splendid, I told Louise and she arrived full of confidence, as was I.
We don't have a paddock full of castrated males, we have never had a problem selling our boys on when the time is right so we had to look at what we had available.
There wasn't a lot of choice. First up was the mighty Roger Resilient. Roger has grown into a lovely looking male and when he was relieved of his massive fleece we could see what a cracking looking male he had grown into. Here he is pictured yesterday afternoon, under his favourite tree.
Now I have never done this before nor seen it done. Louise, who is relatively young in experience had never done it either. She has been learning about alpacas over the past few years by dealing with the Patou herd for various things. So a good start, me, Louise nor Roger had never done this before. It started off ok, a vein was found and blood oozed into the collecting bag. About a quarter of a pint was collected when Roger decided it would be a good idea to leap about, a lot. After an unsuccessful retry we decided to leave Roger and move on.
Up stepped Rafiki, who had been nibbling his lead rein in the next pen. Once again a great start, a vein located and blood was forthcoming. Again after about a quarter of a pint some general leaping about took place and despite my best efforts he wouldn't stand still. Here is the big boy under his favourite tree (the same as Roger's).
So we moved on to the third and final boy, Herr Clumpernickle himself who was waiting patiently eyeing up the ladies. Clump was 'stabbed' by Louise and the blood flooded into the bag. Columbus just stood there and although we had to change bags for technical reasons good old Clumpy gave forth a very generous pint at least.
To cut a long story short, we discovered that you can't leave alpaca blood to separate like horses blood, it just doesn't split. Perhaps it would if you waited long enough but 4 hours in a cool box was long enough for me and the blood was whisked away to the Eqiuine hospital in Salisbury where it was successfully spun into some lovely clear plasma. It is now in the freezer where I hope it stays for the rest of the year. In fact hopefully it will stay there until it gets binned in a years time. It is however, comforting to know it is there.
We will be increasing stocks during the winter ready for next years birthing.
Qjori, who is the biggest strongest alpaca here was excused blood giving duties as he is rather busy making the future members of the Patou herd with the ladies. We already have 8 spitting off to him.
Here he is this morning with Poppy (mother of Thor, God of Thunder and Roger Resilient). In the foreground is Reeya awaiting her turn with her eyes all glazed over whilst her son, Talisker takes Qjori's lead. Talisker was making the most wonderful bee in a jamjar noise which you could just hear when Qjori took breath.
It's all happening here in Patouland!