Learning Alpaca

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A New Year and new little ones :-)

Well, a lot later and here I am - no more promises about when the next post will be.
Right now we ( my partner Kerrie, my mother and I ) are working hard to buy a farm of our own. My mother will have a retirement cottage and help us around the farm, as we'll be having a large vegetable garden, chickens for eggs and a couple of kune kune pigs. We're nearly there - found a beautiful place, had our offer accepted, put our place on the market, got an acceptable (if low) offer, and now are waiting with baited breath for the people who put the offer on our place to sell their place so they can give us the money to give to the people who have the place we want.
Got that?

On the farm Kerrie and I have 2 new additions to our little herd.


is Hikaru - our first male. He's named after the lead character in my favourite manga/anime, Hikaru No Go. In this picture he is 15 minutes old, and unfortunately, 7-14 days premature (depending what day you use as conception/birth date). He's now been alive for 2 days and so far so good. Premature cria (baby alpacas) can have problems with digestion (the bacteria in the stomach not yet ready for external food) and with temperature regulation.

What to do? Is the cria active? If it is lying there, not trying to stand (which they should be doing almost immediately) - a situation known as being "flat," then get in there relatively quickly. Dry the cria and massage it with a towel to get the blood circulating. Talk to it - make it's brain work.

Next big thing - it should very quickly after standing, be trying to nurse. If it is not, or if, as in this case, the mother is inexperienced and not allowing nursing then the cria needs some nourishment. Consult with your vet, or your mentor about this. On the farm I work at we use Anlamb (a milk replacement designed for lambs), with a little glucose - and for the first day, some colostrum - very important!!!

Now look to the cria's temperature - they can lose heat very quickly and that can be fatal. If you have a sheltered area then Mother and cria might need to go in it at night. A cria coat (NZ or USA) is also a very good idea.

Next and very important: coffee. No, not for the alpacas - for you. The cria is going to need to be fed every 2-3 hours ( again - talk to your mentor/vet - remember I am learning this stuff and am no expert!!!!!) and that means not much sleep for you over the next couple of nights. Don't worry - it will get easier. After a couple of nights, if the cria is looking stronger and especially if it has started to drink for mum then you can skip the 3am feeding. A few nights after that the night feedings may be finished with.

Really important:- keep records. How much did the cria drink? What was it's energy level? It's awareness? Was it going to mum to drink and if so was it getting anything?

Hikaru was born weighing 5kg. Twenty minutes later another cria was born. It's PLACENTA weighed 4kg!!!!!

But, like I said, he seems to be doing well. My bosses think he has begun to drink from his mum and he is showing some great energy.

He's not out of the woods yet - it'll still be a few days till I heave a sigh of relief and say he's truly arrived. Tomorrow is the first big benchmark. If he makes it to 3 days then he's got a good grip on life. A full week of life and he's here for the long run... and then it will be time to start evaluating him as a future stud for our small herd - 10 beautiful alpacas and counting :-)