Vitamin D deficiency in alpacas
In the month of February Melbourne received 6.7 hours a day of direct sunlight on average. Under normal circumstances about 15 minute’s exposure of an area of skin to sunlight in summer is necessary to obtain vitamin D, however the low levels of UV rays are complicating the health of alpacas says La Trobe University’s Dr Theresa Frankel, School of Life Sciences.
‘There is quite a severe problem in alpacas which is related to vitamin D and calcium intakes –alpacas don’t convert the precursor to vitamin D very efficiently and this affects bone development in young alpacas,’ says Dr Frankel.
Baby alpacas or crias receive their first hit of vitamin D from their parent or dams that have been exposed to UV radiation. The lack of sufficient sunlight can be detrimental to the early stages of the alpaca’s growth.
‘There are quite a lot of alpaca farms in Victoria and Tasmania that have reported bone development problems but there have even been reports of the problem in Queensland alpacas,’ says Dr Frankel.
Contact details for Dr Theresa Frankel, School of Life Sciences:
P: (03) 9479 2180