Final Work for June 2018 Nunoa Project Veterinary Team in Peru

Nuñoa Project   
By: Stephen R. Purdy, DVM
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project

Photo Caption: Coordination with Llama Pack Project, Urubamba, Sacred Valley of the Incas

Quishuarani Community

This is a well-developed community, with good road access, electricity, and involvement in the tourism trade along the Inca Trail. It takes about 3 hours to drive there from Urubamba into the mountains on a very windy road with spectacular views and exciting drop offs to the valleys far below. There are good facilities for bunk room lodging and cooking at the community center.

The basis for the work here was to identify llama females for breeding to elite males to increase the average size of herd animals over time, and to improve conformation of llamas for packing use. Nunoa Project visited this community in the past to evaluate other herds and initiate the farmers’ involvement with Llama Pack Project. The team started ear tagging the selected herders’ breeding females to track production which is new for this area. All herds are small, but some families own quite a few castrated males used for transporting potatoes to town and for meat.

Beside the far too common high levels of cria mortality, the most relevant health problem in this valley is infection with liver flukes. All owners report it, are aware of it, and to some extent try to address the issue by treating animals with flukicide medications. Interestingly, they do not manage their pastures in relation to the presence of flukes and avoid the wet areas at higher risk of infection.

Five herds were evaluated over two days.

Herd 1: A high prevalence of small ears. Fairly good body condition score (BCS) and pregnancy rate. High incidence of cria mortality reported, predominantly at 1 to 2 weeks of age.

Herd 2: An aging herd, with a very low BCS, most likely due to low nutritional levels, but the role of fluke infection and subsequent liver disease in this valley is not to be underestimated. It needs to be addressed.

Herd 3: Over a 1 hour trek up into the mountains from the community buildings to get to this remote but very beautiful location. The team arrived in the afternoon, and so the visit was brief. Also the owner not quite convinced of the benefits of the activity. She would not let the team handle the perceived pregnant animals for verification for fear of resulting abortion. This is a common misconception among new farmers we encounter. However, the herd consisted of very good sized animals, in good condition, so it is hoped that the family will get further involved in the project. Also the team noted good herd management. For example, the owner had built quarantine/hospital corrals for housing and treating sick animals. This serves as an example for other farmers to emulate.

Herd 4: Five animals at BCS 1 lowered the mean score of the herd, which otherwise was satisfactory. These five animals are likely affected by chronic liver fluke infections. The owner is aware of the issue, and tries to address it by the use of oral medications. The team discussed pasture management in relation to weather season and the life cycle of flukes. The logical practice would to be graze lowlands in the dry season and higher pasture during the wet season, avoiding wet vegetation which harbors the snails carrying the fluke infection.

Herd 5: Consisted of several castrated males. The herd females had a very low pregnancy rate. The likely explanation for this was the death of the alpha macho, which had been replaced by a young, 3 year old, reportedly of small size. The team explained that there would be a significant delay before the herd would produce crias and suggested, if at all possible, that the owner should borrow or lease a mature male from someone else.

These herds are examples of what our teams encounter in all of the alpaca and llama work we do. The problems are not usually complicated and we usually find that we can help make significant herd improvements with simple management changes. Our efforts are directed at understanding the farmers’ problems, and proposing practical solutions. We find that we need to reinforce these management strategies with repeated contact s and as in our US work, education is key to improvement. We also are providing a real service to the women of Peru specifically as our veterinary teams are primarily made up of females.

This is the face of international veterinary medicine. Young women in Peru are exposed to our team members making a difference in the lives of the Peruvian people. They are international ambassadors and examples of the power of women to enact positive change. More than half of our international teams have been trained in our US programs. The knowledge we have gained in Peru and the US is applicable in both countries. There is no shortage of work to do, or team members to perform it. Our limitations are primarily financial. We have the expertise to make real changes in the lives of these farmers and their families. Please help us to continue to make a difference through a generous, tax deductible contribution to the Nunoa Project.

Learn more about Nunoa Project here.

The Nunoa Project June 2018 Trip to Peru: Update 3

Nuñoa Project
By:  Stephen R. Purdy, DVM
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project

Four herds were scheduled to be evaluated by the June 2018 Nunoa Project Veterinary Team in Pucara District in three different communities in the southern Peruvian Andes. Th team encountered a very tragic situation in the first scheduled visit as the herd owner initially pulled out from the schedule saying that he needed to transport the body of a person who went missing and was found dead. He was able to spend some time with the team which examined his animals. He reported some cases of acute diarrhea in crias up to two weeks old, suggestive of E. coli infection. No lice were present in his animals this time as was observed in our December 2017 visit.

The team met at a prearranged location in Alto Pucarayllu at the local school where we have worked before but the herd that was supposed to be there was not and there was no way to contact the owner as he does not have mobile phone. Th team went further into the mountains to another location where we have worked before and found another herd in the middle of shearing and not able to be evaluated. They did have a conversation about animal health issues and the owner asked for a visit on the January 2019 Nunoa Project trip. Unfortunately, this type of situation is sometimes common in the remote Andes as things come up as farmers do not have any way to communicate with us.

Another herd we have worked with for multiple years was evaluated after a climb into the mountains from the last passable road at a local river. This farmer is very enthusiastic and is always eager to discuss ways to improve his herd. His sons and parents are often present, and he had many helpers to catch females. He is one of the local community leaders and asked for more, and younger males for use in the next breeding season. Some issues with cria mortality were discussed and also his relatively low pregnancy rate of 60% compared to 80% in December 2017 He was very happy about the quality and quantity of crias produced from previous Nunoa Project males.

Another herd was evaluated in the community of LaUnion. It is a spectacular location but difficult and slow to reach by truck. The ride time is well worth the view when we arrive. The farmer was very pleased about the 2017 NP males’ performance: 22 out of 23 females gave birth, then only one cria died after birth. He is another progressive farmer and a local leader for the Pucara communities.
The final herd evaluated was in Lampa District in the community of Coarita, which is a very long drive from the team’s home base in the town of Pucara. The track to get there was in very bad condition. Body condition in this herd was good and so was the pregnancy rate at 80 %. Animals are identified by ear tag and the community keeps records which is uncommon in the herds with which we work. They identify barren animals we find for slaughter. They were happy about the NP males’ performance, both for quantity and quality of offspring produced. They would like to use our males again.

In site of the occasional setback we feel that we are making progress here and as always are looking to expand our contacts to other farmers. We continue to provide veterinary support to farmers in between our team visits to help the farmers to solve problems they encounter. The financial support of alpaca farmers outside Peru allows us to be able to pursue these goals. Please help us in this effort by making a tax-deductible donation to Nunoa Project via our website or by personal check.

Learn more about Nunoa Project here.

The Nunoa Project June 2018 Trip to Peru: Update 2

Nuñoa Project
By:  Stephen R. Purdy, DVM
Photo: Courtesy of Nuñoa Project

The Nunoa Project Veterinary Team worked with Nunoa District farmers in the southern Peruvian Andes recently. The team presented a seminar to local farmers on herd health and selection of breeding animals which was well received and attended. Our goal is to provide education on basic principles for herd evaluation and improvements which can be passed on to others and reinforced in future visits.

Our nine superior breeding males are being kept with a local farmer and they were examined by the team. They are loaned out during the breeding season to farmers who cannot afford to purchase their own to improve the fiber and conformation in their herds. We will decide later this year which of them will be returned to service for the 2019 breeding season. We have also secured the use of some other loaner males to use in the herd improvement program for the next breeding season and these were examined for suitability. Our goal here is to improve herd genetics and thereby income from fiber sales. Management changes are explored which will improve birthing rates in herds. Introduction of superior genetics also has the effect of producing superior offspring which will improve the herds’ production and thus famer income.

Two of the wealthier farmers in Nunoa District with whom we have past relationships financed the lodging and transportation for the team while working in Nunoa. In exchange the team evaluated their herds and management. Two other new farmers were involved in herd evaluations on this trip and our goal is to expand our efforts to others in the future. One new farmer is a government employee. He is very aware of the limits of his management but sees no point in investing more into his efforts. His animals were in excellent body condition, the best the team has seen. He was praised for this in front of other farmers, and it demonstrates that grazing management can make a difference. A fourth farmer’s animals were evaluated and he was extremely interested in improving his herd’s production and fiber. He reported 40% barren/aborted females. We plan to continue to work with him to further evaluate this issue and search for solutions.

We are happy to return to working in Nunoa with these farmers who are interested in improving their own herds and those of others in the district. We look forward to continued assistance which we can provide during and in between our twice annual team visits. The financial support of alpaca farmers outside Peru allows us to be able to pursue these goals. Please help us in this effort by making a tax-deductible donation to Nunoa Project via our website or by personal check.

Learn more about Nuñoa Project here.

100th Bond Girl arrives in Darsham

Melford Green   
By: Paul Rylott
Photo: Courtesy of Paul Rylott

In 2005, following the birth of their first baby alpaca (cria) – Paul & Jude Rylott of Melford Green Alpacas, based at Darsham Old Hall near Southwold in Suffolk were searching for a theme for the names. Eventually they decided to name the girls after “Bond Girls” and the first born female was named after the first Bond Girl – Ursula (Andress).

Now, 200 births later, and 99 girls with names such as Moneypenny, Tatiana, Solitaire and Jynx – the herd has just welcomed its 100th Bond Girl.

Born on Monday 2nd – the latest cria was born at 6.00pm in the evening. Paul explained “This is quite unusual. 99% of the time, alpacas give birth during the mornings, which in Peru ensures the cria is well fed and running around by night fall – (around 5.00pm), when the temperature drops and the predators come out”. “It’s a very neat survival skill that typifies this stoic species.” adds Paul.

Bond Girl #100 – was up on her feet within 10 minutes – clearly keen to make an impression, so with the current long warm evenings there was no issue whatsoever with the later than usual arrival time.

Her name – of course had to be something quite special. She has been named Vesper, the girl the spy fell so madly in love with that he resigned his “00”status in the first Daniel Craig Bond film - Casino Royale. Paul adds “In Latin, Vesper means evening – so seemed a very fitting name for this rather special Bond Girl.”

For more information, photographs of the rest of the new arrivals and details of animals for sale follow our Facebook site and website or call Paul on 07901-554069 or e mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editor’s Notes:

Melford Green Alpacas is based at Darsham Old Hall, Darsham Suffolk. IP17 3PR and is owned and run by Paul & Jude Rylott . www.darshamoldhall.co.uk

The business was started in Long Melford in 2005, following Paul’s redundancy and a trip to Peru. The business now breeds and sells alpacas right around the globe – in fact there is only one continent that does not have animals either from or in the Melford Green herd and that is Antarctica (and there are no alpacas there). www.melfordgreenalpacas.co.uk

Alpacas are farmed for their high quality fleece, which is as soft as cashmere, five times warmer than sheep’s wool, and three times harder wearing. Melford Green produce a range of Suffolk spun yarns and alpacas accessories, including socks, wraps and duvets at www.melfordgreen.co.uk

Melford Green have twice featured on BBC’s Countryfile programme and ITV’s Alan Titchmarsh Show https://www.youtube.com/user/Melfordgreenalpacas

Alpacas make great pets and more and more farmers are employing alpacas as fox guards to ward foxes away from lambs or chickens.

Alpacas come in 22 different colours – more colours than any other animal in the world.

For further information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07901 554069