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.