We have had Alpacas for about 11 years. Usually, they have their crias (babies) without any difficulty and we find the cria already born and our only job is to make sure it has no difficulties with feeding, but occasionally we find one that needs a little more help. That was the case with our latest Alpaca baby, Archimedes.
Alpaca cria, Archimedes
The morning the alpaca baby was born we had just awoken and were barely starting our homeschool lessons for the day. One of the kids saw the baby attempting to arrive.
head and front legs emerging
Persephone, the female, was a first-time mother. She did a great job getting the head and front feet delivered but slowed down at the shoulders. We allowed her to keep pushing for some time but eventually, I felt like the babe would benefit from being born sooner. If it takes too long to be born they seem to struggle a little with their energy level and can have more trouble feeding.
gentle traction applied
Sometimes a cria will stop their descent if their feet and head are not lined up correctly. The legs should be at the bottom of the opening with the head on top of them. This cria’s head was slightly to the side but it didn’t appear to be a problem. I provided a little gentle traction to help this first-time mama and that was all it took. After the shoulders release, the rest of the cria will come very quickly. As they exit the birth canal, the umbilical cord will break in a small gush of blood.
removal of membrane
The first job of the cria after it is born is to begin to breathe on its own. The mothers usually do a good job of clearing the membrane off the face but often membrane is left on the rest of the body. In the warm months, this is not that big of a deal but when it is a little colder it becomes more important to remove the membrane so the cria can dry off and warm up faster. If they are too cold they will expend all their energy shivering and may not have any left for standing and feeding which begins a downward spiral for the alpaca baby. Because of this, I like to remove any membrane that is left on.
warming in the sun
Since it was a little cold the morning he was born, I dried him off with a towel, left him in the sun, and stepped away so he could begin bonding with his mother.
bonding with Mom
He lifted his head and sat up pretty quickly, which is a good sign, but he laid back down frequently and never tried to stand up. We allowed him to try on his own for about an hour and a half before deciding to intervene. He was still shivering and we began to get concerned. We didn’t want him to go too long before feeding because he needed that to replace the energy he was using shivering.
rubbing for stimulation and warmth
We began by rubbing him hoping to stimulate and warm him up.
helping him stand
We then attempted to help him stand.
He was able to stay standing… for a little while.
soaking up the heat
We decided to go one step further and dry him completely with a hairdryer. We placed him on a warm blanket to separate him from the wet ground. He really seemed to enjoy getting warmed up. He just laid back and soaked it all in. When using a blow dryer you just have to be careful not to stay in one area for too long or have it too close or it will be too hot on the baby’s skin.
While we were warming him up, Persephone passed her placenta. Which is great because that is what she should be doing at this point.
After he was warm, we helped him with his first feeding and he began standing and walking on his own. He now had the warmth, energy, and abilities to begin his life journey.