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Monday, June 01 2009

This is part of a continuing series on cria care from Double 8 Alpacas.

So the cria has been born.  Now What??

Here is what we do here at Double 8 Alpaca Ranch.

After the cria is out, we try to stay away and let mom bond with the new cria.  Once we see that the cria and dam are bonding well, we then come into the picture to make sure everything looks normal; two eyes, four legs, is it a boy or girl, are the teeth erupted, is there a good suckle reflex, are the teeth erupted?  Assuming all is normal, we will disinfect the umbilicus with a nolvasan solution and set the cria in a nice cush position and wait to see if it stands.  We will set the cria in front of mom, if she's a maiden and doesn't seem at first interested.  It's amazing to see the "it's MY cria light bulb" switch come on when she realizes that this new and beautiful criation belongs to her! The cria is usually up pretty quickly.  It's not abnormal to have a cria walking around in twenty minutes.  Its first instinct is to search for food. It's a good sign to see a cria start suckling when it cushes for the first time.  We know this cria is not going to have any problems finding the milk supply.  While the cria is looking for milk under mom, Bonnie makes the teats ready for nursing.  She pulls off the waxy tips off each of the teats and makes sure there is milk by a gentle downward tug on one or more teat. She will even rub a little milk on the cria's lips, which turns on the "nursing light bulb" for some crias who are struggling to find the milk supply.  If a cria is too weak or is a "stall nurser...aka dum, dum syndrome", Bonnie will milk out 4cc or more from the dam and syringe feed it to the cria.  In most cases, just this small amount will give the cria a burst of energy and it will be able to find the milk supply for its next drink.  We have also had good  luck with IGG test results using this method.   Because crias are born without an immune system, getting the first milk (colostrum)into the cria is very important.  More on colostrum and IGGs in the next blog entry.

So now your new cria is walking and feeding itself.  Now the back end has to start working.  We especially like it when the cria urinates right after nursing, then we know its getting a plentiful supply of milk from mom.  Next we need to see it defecate.  The first expulsion will be meconium.  This is the black or burnt orange, compressed or sticky or even long stringy excrement that has been in the cria's intestines during its time in the womb.  If compressed, it might be a bit difficult for a cria to get it out.  And, it has to come out in order for the intestines to start absorbing the milk that is going in the other end.  If a cria is having a difficult time passing the meconium, you will see it straining at the dung pile, and it even might stop nursing,and seem lethargic.  Most crias will push out the meconium in the first couple of hours, and you might even see additional pieces in the next few bowel movements. We've even seen more meconium up to a day later.  If you have not been watching, there is a good chance you will not find it unless it's stuck to their back leg.  We don't always have time to just sit around watching crias go the bathroom.  What we do is just watch the cria, as is normally the case with alpacas, they will let you know what is bothering them if you just look.  If the cria is straining in the poop position it may be time to intervene.  Our first method is to just take a rectal temperature.  It's good to get a temp any way on the newborn cria, plus a little lube on the thermometer will also lube the rectum and make the cria feel like it needs to make a bowel movement.  But be gentle and don't pack anything in any harder than it already is.  If that doesn't work, we step up to a warm soapy water enema and if that doesn't work, we will give a mineral oil enema.  Just a small squirt should do it.  It isn't always immediately successful, but if you wait, you will normally see it work.  Sometimes you have a cria that is having an extremely difficult time moving the meconium.  In those cases we have used fleet enema, but use extreme caution as this can cause the cria to go the opposite way into diarrhea. I also don't like the way it makes the cria cramp and you will see them really straining at the dung pile, even after they've passed the meconium of fecal matter.  Again a small squirt will do and it is usually immediate.

Next time, we will talk about IGGs and Cria/Dam Vaccinations.

Posted by: Doug Kittrell AT 06:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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