Uterine Flush

above some pictures taken around the farm.
N 42 43.311'
E 011 11.742'
CEP 42 feet

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Medicated Uterine Infusions as a Means of Achieving Higher Rates of Conception

-- Gabriella Bozzini --

 

In 1995, when I started my alpaca breeding program, I read as much of the literature on the subject as I could find. Most of the information that I found dealt with the problems a breeder might have to face in times of difficult births or weak crias. The breeding and achievement of conception actually all seemed to be pretty straightforward: the pair breeds, after 335-350 days of gestation a cria is born, and 14 days after parturition the female becomes receptive once again to breeding thereby starting the cycle all over again. That easy, right? Wrong! At least, this wasn’t my experience in the beginning.

Since 1995, I have had 23 farm births. Only one was a dystocia that required veterinary assistance, and two others were assisted births that required minor intervention. The birthing experience has been the most exciting and rewarding part of the breeding program whereas the achievement of pregnancy has been the most anxiety-ridden.
1995 and 1996 were my most troubling years as I would see my females giving birth to beautiful, healthy crias and then breeding repeatedly afterwards without achieving conception. Some females would breed in excess of 15 times; some would breed, spit off the male for a month or two and then become receptive again.

At first I thought that perhaps my inexperience was somehow to fault. Perhaps I was doing something wrong? I researched the subject but found little help in the published literature and talks with my vet and physical exams revealed no reproductive tract deformities or reasons for induced infertility. However, in talking of my concerns to others in the industry, I realized that I was not alone in facing these types of reproductive problems.

Finally, in my own files, I found a paper by Edna Kennedy, a breeder from New Mexico who is no longer in business, that was given to me upon the purchase of two of her girls. She had had similar problems and had tackled it by giving her alpacas uterine lavages. She notes in her short paper that "there is evidence to suggest that low grade, asymptomatic uterine infections are the major cause of idiopathic breeding problems in female Camelids. That’s why flushing (...) once a day for three days, (...) tends to eliminate these types of covert uterine infections, (and) also tends to resolve most unexplained breeding problems."1

I shared this paper with my veterinarian and, with his assistance, began treating my "problem females" in 1996. For the first three days post-partum, the alpacas received a uterine infusion along with an antibiotic treatment. The results were astounding. The first five females that received this treatment bred only once on the fourteenth day after birthing, and they all achieved and maintained their pregnancies. These are the same alpacas that had previously required repeated breedings over a period of several months.

My veterinarian explained that this procedure would be most effective only if performed during the immediate post-partum period when the cervix is most dilated. It is during these early days that a flush can more easily reach the uterine cavity and treat any possible low-grade infections caused by the birthing trauma. Performing the lavage any time after this, would at the very least, be ineffective and, at the very worst, actually introduce harmful bacteria into the reproductive tract of the alpacas.

The breeding season of 1997 has been the most successful yet as I’ve begun using this uterine flush and antibiotic treatment systematically with all my breeding females. This prophylactic measure has been included in my management program so that all mothers, experienced as well as first-timers, receive the treatment regardless of their respective birthing experience. The result has been remarkable: This year, all my female alpacas got pregnant upon their first and only exposure to my stud. They have also all maintained their pregnancies beyond the third month of gestation without any further complications. While my small group of females and my limited experimentation does not provide conclusive data, it does suggest that this benign and inexpensive post-partum treatment might be quite helpful in aiding females heal and treat their reproductive tracts after birthing.

If you have had similar reproductive problems with your alpacas and would like to receive a free pamphlet that describes how to perform the procedure and what supplies and materials are required, please contact me. Your responses will be recorded and eventually mailed to AOBA. Hopefully the results from this informal collection of breeders’ responses will provide more impetus to the industry to fund further research not only in reproductive pathologies but also in the value of employing this prophylactic measure.

_________________

1. Edna Kennedy: "Medicated Uterine Infusion as an Adjunct to Successful Breeding."

Uterine Lavage for Camelid Breeding Management

-- Ky Dehlinger DVM --

 

Intrauterine lavage has been used in various species for the treatment of reproductive failure due to intrauterine infections, both chronic and acute, and for the abnormal accumulation of intrauterine fluid. The most common species that we see this in, is the equine. Various therapies have been proposed in the medical literature: intrauterine antibiotics, oxytocin infusion, prostaglandin F2a, and large volume uterine lavage (see American Journal of Veterinary Research, Vol 56, No.4, April 1995, p.468-472). The first aspect of a good reproductive examination in mares which are failing to come into foal involves ultrasonography which may show intrauterine cysts, intrauterine fluid, or no changes at all. Often, horse owners will elect intrauterine cultures and sensitivities for problem breeders; hystopathology on uterine biopsies will show normal endometrium (Kenney category 1) to severe endometrial changes (Kenney category 3). We begin intrauterine infusions with isotonic, sterile fluids and evacuating that fluid as a treatment for the mares that are not getting bred: sometimes oxytocin is concurrently given (20 IU intravenously or intramuscularly) to promote uterine contractions for the evacuation of the fluid. Unfortunately, in camelids, it is difficult to evaluate intrauterine pathology.

Based on our successful treatment of mares, we modified our treatment recommendations for post-delivery camelid dams who were not breeding back successfully. It was assumed that at delivery, possible vaginal and subsequent uterine low grade infections were occurring. Due to the difficulty of uterine examination and intrauterine treatments in camelids, this treatment is done following delivery by taking advantage of a dilated cervix. Moreover, this is not an easy species to examine and do routine reproductive diagnostic procedures. Thus, a prophylactic treatment following delivery is recommended to owners of alpacas and llamas. An intravaginal infusion with a 5% betadine solution is recommended post-delivery; we speculate that this stimulates endogenous prostaglandin release. At the same time, we recommend systemic antibiotics for 3 days; some papers have suggested the use of intrauterine antibiotics or antibiotics in the lavage. Some reports in the bovine literature however suggest that intrauterine antibiotics can reduce fertility and we therefore avoid using intrauterine antibiotics in most cases. This treatment is considered prophylactic and is performed by the owner. Since initiating this protocol, there has been good success at breeding back female camelids.

____________

Ky Dehlinger is a veterinarian at:

Valley Veterinary Clinic - Large & Small Animal Practice

Rt. 11, Box 210 DDD - Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

(505)455-2228 fax (505) 455-7292

 

 

Supplies & Procedure for Alpaca Uterine Infusion

 

Supplies:

All of the items listed below can be ordered through the KV Vet Catalog by calling: 800-423-8211. Each item has a category number taken from the 1997 Master Catalog.

  1. A restraint chute is recommended

  2. 3 bottles of 1000cc Sterile Solution (need veterinary prescription to purchase from KV Vet)

  3. 3 dosages of 5cc. Betadine Solution (not Betadine Scrub) (cat#66401)

  4. 10 needles and syringes (cat#80012)

  5. 10 dosages of 1-1/2cc Naxcel antibiotic (need veterinary prescription)

  6. 1 Simplex IV set (Funnel Type): a rubber tubing system to aid in the administration of fluids aseptically. (cat# 86055)

  7. KYJelly (cat#80130)

 

Administration of Uterine Flush:

Before administering the flush, make sure that the female has passed an intact after-birth and that the cria is healthy, nursing and has had time to bond to Dam. Usually I do not perform the flush until the late evening of the birthing day.

Preparation:

  1. Halter the female and restrain her in chute.

  2. With a sterile syringe, mix 5cc of Betadine Solution into the 1000cc bottle of Saline Solution.

  3. Wash hands and use sterile latex gloves to try and keep the following steps as sterile as possible:

  1. Attach the IV set to the bottle. Try to keep the rubber tubing of the IV set as clean as possible.

  2. If the IV set has a needle attached, remove and dispose it. You won’t need it for this procedure.

  3. Squeeze out a glob of KY jelly out of the tube as it may not be sterile, then place some on the metal tip where the needle was attached. The lubrication will facilitate the introduction of the metal tip and the rubber tubing.

  4. Gently push the rubber tubing of the IV into the vagina. To make sure you have gone through the dilated cervix and entered the uterus, the tubing must be at least six to eight inches in. You might want to mark this measurement on the tubing with a felt pen beforehand.

  5. Have someone hold the 1000cc bottle of flush above your head or attach it to an IV bottle holder. Either way, make sure the bottle is high enough so that gravity will push the fluids into the female being treated.
    It takes approximately two to three minutes to empty the bottle and complete the flush.

  6. Give the first of six treatments of 1-1/2cc Naxcel antibiotic in the muscle.

 

 

Europaca
Alpaca Breeding Centre of Italy
Azienda Agricola Podere Val di Toro
Poggio La Mozza - 58100 Grosseto Italy
+39 0564 406022 +39 0564 406022