Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Premature cria and unhelpful weather

Some of my alpaca breeder colleagues are so good at keeping up with their blogs! I try and follow your example but don't do very well.

I wrote a blog entry last Thursday but didn't get round to posting it. It was all about shearing and how I never get the timing right with the weather. This is important for us because our barn isn't big enough to accomodate all our alpacas for shearing in the rain. SO I delayed our shearer 3 weeks ago as the weather was so wet and cold and then it immediately turned tropical aargh! Since then the weather has done another u-turn and I was umming and aahing about when to shear a very-nearly-due pregnant female, when on Saturday morning my husband found a new shivering cria in the long grass and the rain. 10 months and 3 weeks and weighing in at 6.4 kilo this little female was floppy-eared premature.

We spent from Saturday until yesterday getting her going and, sure enough, the weather has been EXTREMELY unhelpful. Mum doesn't like going in the barn and so it's been a balancing act between keeping the cria dry and warm and having them both outside as much as possible.

At first the cria wasn't strong enough to stand and feed from mum on her own so we started by milking mum to get some colostrum and then continued by holding the cria up while she fed directly from mum every 2 hours. The cria has gradually gained in strength and is now thermoregulating (as much as possible in these conditions), feeding well and putting on weight.

We don't have any plasma in stock so couldn't do an oral transfer in the first 6 hours as people suggest, however I'm hoping that we got enough of mum's colostrum into her in the first few hours to have an effect. She certainly had plenty of colostrum during the first 24 hours so fingers crossed we don't see any infections appear. I spoke to the vet about the possibility of performing an intra-peritoneal plasma transfer but as the cria seemed to be improving, putting on weight, had a normal temperature and the procedure itself can be risky we decided it wasn't worth it.

Phew. What a lot of work. I hope the next birthing is easier.

As for the weather. We're booked in for shearing on the 12th June so I fully expect the heavens to open for biblical floods that day..