Jasmine’s cria emergency caused a bit of drama on Friday…
Friday morning bright and early, we went out as usual to feed the alpacas. It had been a cold night and there was a ground frost as well as some fog. I dished up the girls breakfast in the barn as usual and started my head count… My Mum started shouting and when I looked out of the barn I saw Jasmine on her own in the top field. My first thought was an late term abortion, we were not expecting this first cria for another month or so. As I ran up the race I saw a crow on the ground near to Jasmine and thought the worst.
As my heart was sinking I kept on running. A fawn bundle was sat neatly on the ground next to the placenta which the crow was pecking at. Could we save this baby? How long had it been sat chilling in the cold morning ? The cria was alive so I scooped it up and cuddled it close whilst towels and the birthing box was retrieved from the farm office. Thank goodness I had checked and restocked it in March…
A quick check and we determined we had a female cria with a strong heart beat and good pink colour. We soaked the umbilicus with diluted ‘Nolvasan’ as per our protocol. She was cold and quiet and her incisor teeth had not yet erupted. We think she had been born within the hour. Rather than remove her from her mum, we kept her with her Jasmine and started warming her. Vigorous rubbing, honey into the mouth, ‘hot hands’ (warm water in disposable gloves) and a space blanket raised her temperature enough for her to start shivering. We wrapped her up in more towels with a hot water bottle and continued to raise her temperature over the next hour. She was responsive to sound and touch throughout which were very good signs. We also massaged her limbs and gently flexed and extended the joints to prepare her for standing. She had a reasonable suck reflex which meant we should be able to get her feeding once she had the strength to stand.
As well as working on the cria, we also ensured Jasmine had a bucket of fresh water and her breakfast.
Once she was able to lift her head I tube fed her some warmed Osmonds Camelid Colostrum. (Nb: If you have not been trained to tube feed, please do not attempt it and call your vet – aspiration of feed is only one complication arising from poor technique and is usually fatal). At this point you may be thinking why not plasma? We like Osmonds for the energy it delivers as a nutritional supplement and the dam was standing by waiting with plenty of her own fresh colostrum. In the event of no or poor colostrum then plasma is indicated. The aim in this case was for the cria to be functioning normally as soon as possible. After 2 feeds given 1 hour apart our warmed little cria was strong enough to stand up with support. Then we had a eureka moment and got quite excited when she has a big wee – all over one of her towels!
By this time we had realized she was not technically premature, just keen to be born. She weighed a good 7.5kg and had a tight crimp to her fleece rather than it being straight and silky to the touch. Her ears were not floppy. As for most new born cria her legs were all over the place and her tendons were lax but we were more confident she was going to be OK. We later checked the dates and she was actually born after 328 days (10 months 3 weeks) gestation. This is only the second case of an early birth we have had in 15 years of breeding.
We always do a head count at least twice a day, check females as often as we can and we always check last thing at night.
The next job was to get her feeding from the dam. Jasmine is an experienced mother (bred by us) and happily stood whilst we checked her udder. We removed the waxy plugs from the end of the teats and produced some milk for the cria to taste and smell. So it was that Jasmine and I persevered every 20 mins until on the 3rd attempt she had a reasonable feed. She was off ! However, we continued to get her up and put her under mum for a feed every hour until by 4pm she was strong enough to get up and do it herself. Fantastic !
We checked them for a final time before it got dark and all was as you would expect. Throughout they remained with the herd. They were well bonded and feeding time was long enough to ensure good intake of milk. The cria’s energy had increased over the afternoon and she was warm with a normal body temperature. So we left them to it… First light was about 5.30am and the cria was feeding. What a lovely sight…
The pictures below are from Sunday Day 3 and we wish her a marvelous life 🙂 We are so delighted to have a good outcome for this first birthing of the season. Hopefully, the rest will be straightforward. We have named this little lady Chalford Jakota (m: origin and popular) after her wonderful mother Chalford Jasmine (bay black) and her father LMFI Odakota of Chalford (Medium Fawn).
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