Wanted to update you on a new event here on the farm. In the last post I told you that I was on alpaca watch over the weekend with three expectant moms. Well I went and hung out from mid-day Saturday till after supper that night to keep an eye on them. Dominique is due at the end of the month and has a bad knee that the doctor doesn’t want to do anything with until after she’s had her cria. Anne Therese and Peoria are overdue. I finished reading the neonatal book and didn’t see any signs of them going into labor. Stage 1 of labor can be from 1-6 hours, if I recall from my reading. Stage 2 – the actual birth is usually under 2 hours so that is why it’s really important to catch anything wrong really soon because the whole event can be over in 2 hours. The only thing I saw that seemed odd to me was that Dominique was humming like crazy. The sound is like a vibration that they make….not sure if they are exhaling through their sinus cavities or what but I call it humming. They will do it when under stress or it seems to be part of the language they use when talking to their young. The last time I checked her, Saturday night, she was eating hay in the barn.
Sunday morning, while watching my political shows, I get a call from Tracy, the alpaca manager. She works on Sundays so I knew I wouldn’t have to check them on Sunday cause she’d be working. She arrived at work and found that Dom had delivered her cria and it was dry and running around. Add excessive humming to the list of signs to watch for….Sneaky little thing ! Not sure whether the cria had nursed or not, Tracy put the baby under Dom. Dom was a little spooked or something and kicked her baby’s right front leg. When Tracy saw that the cria couldn’t put weight on it, she felt pretty certain that her leg was broken. She called me to go and keep an eye on the other alpacas till she got back from the vet. Poor peanut….she was only 8.6# at birth (a cria should be greater than 12# to be considered normal so she technically is in the “at risk” category). Dom gets really nervous around people so add that to her being a first time mom and it’s double trouble.
Here she is after coming home from the vets. Since Tracy wasn’t sure if she had received any colostrum (the first milk from the mom), the vet gave her plasma. He puts a tube into their stomach and they absorb it into their system. They have to get the colostrum within 18 hours of birth, while the cells are open to absorb it. After 18 hours, it can’t be absorbed this way and the window of opportunity has closed. Doesn’t that cast look clunky ? It’s only 8 ounces in weight but it’s huge on such a little thing.
We are bottle feeding Peanut (that is my nickname for her) because Dom won’t let her get in there to nurse. I fed our calves as a kid and you usually stick your fingers in a newborn calves mouth, to get them sucking on them, and then you slide their mouths off onto a teat pail for calves (this is once you’ve taken them away from their moms). You can’t do that with alpacas so you put your one hand under their chin and try to open their mouth where it hinges (at the corner of their mouth). We are feeding her whole cow’s milk although you can feed goat’s milk too. You put just a drop of molasses or corn syrup or maple syrup in it to make it appealing but it’s still a little tricky to get them started. Once you get the nipple of the bottle in their mouths and they start sucking, they can drink down 4 ounces in a hurry. At this stage they need to have 5-7 feedings a day and consume at least 18-20% of their body weight. Today she had 22 ounces over 6 feedings so that’s great. She’ll put on some weight quickly if she keeps that up.
I just came from giving her the 7:00 feeding. I spent last night in the barn, keeping an eye on Peanut and the other two that are due. Tracy has a heated dog bed pad that she puts the newborns on to keep their body temps up on the cold nights. At midnight, Peanut was off her pad and almost across the pen. We have mom and baby in a small pen so they can stay together and bond and hopefully Dom will calm down and let Peanut nurse when we’re not around (if Peanut can get up to her). Peanut jumped up after I gave her 4 ounces tonight and walked around the pen, dragging her front leg under her. She got up to Dom and fell flat on her face underneath Dom. I slowly reached in and picked up Peanut so Dom wouldn’t kick her or step on her by accident and put Peanut back on her pad. I’d like to think that she’ll stay on the pad all night but I think that is wishful thinking.
Peanut has a soft cast on that the vet will check in about a week. It is so long and awkward that it will take another day or two before she gets enough strength to be able to get it under her to walk. I can see an improvement in her walking today and she is starting to get the little skip in her step that the little ones get when they want to run. I give her till the end of the week and she’ll be unstoppable. She sure is a fighter for such a little thing.
Didn’t want a whole week to go by before I could tell you about Peanut….two more crias to go !