The effect of elemental Zn boluses on concentrations of Zn in serum and faeces of South American camelids

The effect of elemental Zn boluses on concentrations of Zn in serum and faeces of South American camelids
Peer reviewed


Aims: To monitor the effect of using long-acting Zn boluses on the Zn status of a group of South American camelids, using measurements of concentrations of Zn in faeces and serum.

Methods: As part of a facial eczema (FE) prevention programme, 15 camelids were treated with long-acting Zn boluses designed for preventing FE in sheep. Based on bodyweight, 13 alpacas (Vicugna pacos) received two boluses (26.4 g Zn/bolus) and two llamas (Lama glama) received three boluses. In order to monitor Zn status, measurements were made of concentrations of Zn in serum and faeces immediately prior to bolus treatment (Week 0) and 4, 6, 8 and 10 weeks later. Gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) activity in serum was measured at Weeks 0 and 8.

Results: Two alpacas regurgitated the boluses; in one case the animal was quickly re-treated but this was not possible in the second animal. Mean concentrations of Zn in faeces were higher at all time points compared to Week 0 (p < 0.001). Peak concentrations were measured at Week 8, and concentrations >120 mg/kg fresh weight (FW), suggested as being protective in calves, were only measured in all (13/13) treated camelids at Week 6. Mean concentrations of Zn in serum differed between weeks of sampling but changes were not consistent, and concentrations did not exceed 18 μmol/L following treatment. There was no evidence of a natural sporidesmin challenge during the study period and activity of GGT in serum of all animals was <45 IU/L.

Conclusions: Treatment with Zn boluses significantly increased concentrations of Zn in faeces but not in serum, but peak concentrations in faeces were only detected 8 weeks after treatment.

Clinical Relevance: The delay in achieving concentrations of Zn in faeces which were associated with protection against FE in calves, combined with the difficulties of administering boluses to camelids, means that we do not believe that Zn boluses should be used as the primary method for preventing FE in camelids. We recommend that FE prevention in camelids should focus on minimising spore production in pasture through the use of fungicides, grazing management and alternative forages, with boluses only used when it is thought that these methods are unlikely to provide sufficient protection against FE. Such use should always be under the guidance of a veterinarian and monitoring of serum GGT activity should be used to ensure that FE control is being achieved.

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