Having an IgG reading on a new cria can be a great tool, as it can help plan a course of action should a cria's immune system be compromised. Many alpaca breeders have found it extremely difficult or expensive to have the test performed. Fortunately, it's an inexpensive lab test that anyone can easily do at home.
The first step is to order the Radial Immunodifusion (RID) plate number 628411 and the 080919 Wiretrol pipettes from Triple J Farms. The combined cost will be $77.50 plus overnight shipping. This will allow you to do about 20 tests.
The RID plate is where the serum is deposited in order to get the IgG reading, and the pipettes are like a miniature syringe, allowing you to easily measure the correct amount of serum.
When it arrives, note the storage info, the RID plate needs to be stored in the refrigerator, face down.
When you have some free time, it's time to get your RID plate set up.
Put it in a well lit area, and if you have a black book or piece of paper to set it on, it will be much easier to visualize while you work. It will come with 4 tubes of serum, and a fill record to mark each well position.
Each serum will be marked with the IgG level, ranging from about 200 to about 2500, with # 2 being right about 800.
These will serve as your benchmark. Shake the tube before drawing the serum
First, mark the IgG of the lowest tube in the fill record for well A1.
We'll now use the pipette to measure the exact amount of serum to put in the well. Draw the plunger up so that it fills to the black line. The white, thicker mark should be on the handle end. Too much, the reading will be high, to little, it will be low.
Placing the collection tube in a shot glass, or something similar, will allow you to use both hands so you can get a more accurate reading.
Next, we'll deposit the serum into the well.
We'll repeat the process for the remaining serums, from lowest to highest, put the cover back on the RID plate, and relax for 24 hours.
Looking at it from time to time will give you an idea of how it progresses.
Now it's time to get the results. It's readily apparent that the higher IgG will create a larger ring.
You will now have a reference, and the practice you need when it's time to perform an IgG test on a cria.
When that happy day arrives, and you are ready to test your brand new cria, blood should be collected when she is at least 24 hours old. (Note the optimism, it's a girl) The blood should be collected in a red stopper tube.
Store the tube upright for a couple of hours at room temperature. The red stuff will sink to the bottom, the clear stuff (serum) will rise to the top. Alternatively, it can be centrifuged for 5 minutes. You can usually find a centrifuge on e-bay for about $60.
Pull the serum out just as you did for the reference serum, place it in the next well, record the fill time, and go play with your new cria.
Mark the cria (or dam) name on the tube, and when you're finished with it, store it away in case you end up needing it for another DNA sample, or if you make a mistake in filling the well properly.
It will be apparent within a couple of hours if the cria's IgG level is going to be acceptable, however the ring will continue to grow for 24 hours.
According to DR. Evans' Field Manual and the research from Triple J Farms, we'd like to see a minimum IgG of 800. One important note is that this applies only to the measurement method of this plate. There are other methods, and the numbers will be completely different.
A quick comparison of ring sizes can be done. If it's larger than the 800 ring from your reference serum, you're in good shape. If it's smaller, it would be wise to consult your vet. You'll quickly learn to guesstimate the IgG and have a number as a reference. While not precise, it does clue you in to potential problems. For those that want the exact numbers, directions come with the plate to allow you to create a graph and plot the exact IgG reading.
For more info on IgG and it's importance, see http://kentlabs.com/articles_igghealth.html