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Sad Alpaca Cria Story

Christine Booth
January 14, 2022
Fawn-coloured alpaca dam has a new born white alpcas cria at her feet. Two black alpacas are in the background.
Rumbles was born after a thunder storm

In the early evening, just after a noisy thunder storm, Samantha gave birth to a white male cria. We named him Rumbles. He was wet and shivering, and possibly a couple of weeks premature.

Alpaca Birthing Complications

It became clear that not all was well with the cria. Normally the newborn cria is standing on wobbly legs within the first hour. But little Rumbles remained seated and shivering. After about two hours, Samantha had not delivered the placenta. So we moved Sam and Rumbles to our barn for observation and to keep them warm.

We fed Rumbles with a few mls of warmed colostrum. This was made from a supply of powdered cow's colostrum we keep in our freezer. Then we observed the pair till late in the night, and kept the little one warm with a blanket and hot water bottle.

The Next Day

Not much changed overnight. Sam still had a retained placenta and Rumbles wasn't feeding from his mother. Although Rumbles didn't seem to have the usual sucking reflex, we persisted in giving him small volumes of alpaca formula from a bottle. He seemed to be a little brighter.

Retained Placenta

Meanwhile, Graham made an emergency dash to our local vet to purchase an oxytocin injection for Samantha. A few hours later, Sam delivered the retained placenta without mishap.

A fawn coloured alpaca is sitting on straw in a barn. A white cria is standing next to her and a man is seated behind her.
Samantha starts having contractions
A amn is sitting behind a fawn-coloured alpaca. The man is assisting the alpaca with delivering a placenta.
Graham gently assisted Samantha
A fawn alpaca is sitting on straw inside a barn. She has just delivered an intact placenta, which a man seated behind her, is holding.
Such a relief!

Looking Brighter - Then a Crash

Mother and son looked much brighter, so we released them back into the paddock. Rumbles was even running around his mother and pestering her for milk. But Sam kept sitting down and didn't appear to produce any milk. Rumbles' condition rapidly deteriorated.

We moved the pair back to the barn, and called out our local vet. The vet gave Sam a general antibiotic, then worked on the cria. Unfortunately she (the vet) was not well prepared for dealing with such a small cria. She was unable to rehydrate Rumbles intraveneously. So then she tried giving him an hydration fluid through a naso-gastric tube. The IV line was used as the naso-gastric tube, because she only had lines suitable for calves! Also, we were a bit surprised by the large volume (~150 mL) of fluid she gave Rumbles.

Rumbles was very weak and moaning. We brought him into our bedroom for the night. It was very distressing to hear him wimpering. Then he had a short bout of screaming. I'm guessing he was having stomach cramps. Because he had profuse (osmotic) diarrhoea, I can only assume that the hydration fluid was too much and too concentrated!

A short time later his little heart gave up and he died.

At Tin Dragon Cottages we have a small herd of alpacas that are part of our family. We were heart-broken for this precious little life that was lost.

A white cria is lying on straw with its head on a pillow and its body wrapped in a colourful blanket. A man and an alpaca are looking down at it.
After the vet's visit
A white cria is wrapped in a grey towel with just its head showing.
Rumbles died during the night
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