Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Surprise Package

Mike and I try to keep a close watch on the alpacas most likely to give birth but we were caught out yesterday. We had farm visitors for most of the afternoon and during that time we were standing outside the paddock where the next four expectant mums are living. All seemed fine.

We were going off to our Spanish lesson straight after tea (don't ask!!) and I said that I would quickly feed the girls and then get our meal ready whilst Mike fed the dogs and settled them for the evening.

As I approached the gate I saw that the bottom of Ardene's legs were very fat and I got my glasses out to have a closer look. The fat legs moved independently from Ardene and turned into a small head and body. Instead of going ahead with the feeding programme I made sure the dogs were shut in the garden and went to get Mike and the birthing box (the box with all the items which might be needed for a birth - like spray for the umbilical cord - towel for drying the cria - surgical gloves - colostrum kit etc:) and headed for Ardene.

Sometime between 3 and 5 p.m. she had given birth to a gorgeous brown girl with lovely curly fleece, straight legs and pretty head. Her fleece was nearly dry and so she did not need towelling. It was an ideal day for drying washing, so I suppose it was ideal for drying new borns too!

As we had not been watching her we did not know whether she had fed from her mother. This is very important as the cria needs to use the mother's anti bodies to help it resist various nasties that exist in the outside world and can be a killer for an unprotected cria. The weather forecast was very bad so we decided to bring the new cria, her mother and the other three expectant Mums into the barn whilst constantly checking to try and spot the cria suckling. She had not done so by the time we had prepared the barn with hay water and straw and walked them all in so we decided to phone our teacher to say we would probably be late and we went indoors to eat, shower and change.

As soon as I was dressed I went out to the barn intending to stand watch for as long as it would take but just as I approached the pen, the baby decided to start searching for milk again and eventually found it through her mum's front legs. Luckily her mother was very patient and just stood there and subsequent suckling has taken place in a more conventional position.

As it turned out we did not have to wait for long and actually arrived in class on time. This morning we let them all back into their paddock during a short period of respite from the rain and luckily they seem only too pleased to stay in their shelter and eat hay, so we feel that we can safely leave them in the paddock tonight, even though it is still quite wet.

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