DMAR Pistol born 11/23/13:
Every morning since DMAR Princess went full term I started checking under her tail for any sign of dialation before moving the girls out into the pasture. This past Saturday I noticed she was starting to dialate so I knew I had to move quickly to get my barn chores done as time would be limited. Of course, this was the weekend Tommy chose to go visit his mom and brother in New Jersey so I was left alone to handle everything myself.
I still moved Princess with the rest of the girls into the pasture. It is just easier to clean up the barn with the alpacas out. I fed the dogs and then proceeded to start filling up buckets with alpaca hay. All the while I am looking out checking up on Princess. So far so good. The show kids were fed and given fresh water. I then went to the pastures to feed the girls and young males. Each of those groups got fresh water as well. I still had to feed the big boys and then I could start cleaning up the stalls. On my walk back to the barn I looked in on Princess and noticed her eating hay in a cushed position. Uh oh! Princess never eats in a cushed position. Now I was really running out of time. I high tailed it back to the barn to finish the buckets to feed the big boys.
As I was feeding the big boys I looked at Princess and saw her roll onto her side and then sternal again. Panic was starting to hit me that the cria would be born in the pasture before I could get the stall ready. I never moved so fast back to the barn to scoop up the stall where I planned on keeping Princess with her new cria. I cleaned it up, turned on the heaters, and threw down a blanket. I grabbed some latex gloves, a towel, and a halter with lead to get Princess back into the barn.
It still amazes me that the most standoffish alpacas become completely domesticated when in pain. Princess literally looked at me like where have you been? I held up the halter and she placed her head in it. That never happens! We started to walk but that didn’t last long when out of nowhere Princess dropped down on her front knees. She wasn’t going any further. That would have normally been ok but she popped down right in the middle of the poop pile so I had to drag her out. Poor thing was in the midst of contractions but I was able to move her. Then the cria’s head popped out. The sac was still intact so I popped it. Princess was up and then down several times. Each time she stood I tried to move her closer to the barn but my efforts were minimal. It wasn’t until the cria’s head and front feet protruded that Princess finally was able to move.
With the cria hanging out from behind Princess we were able to move out of the pasture across the front of the barn and all the way down the barn aisle to her stall. We couldn’t have been in the stall more than a few seconds before Princess was pushing again. Just a couple minutes later at 10:30 am DMAR Pistol was born.
I had fresh food for Princess in the stall so after birthing Pistol and giving him a quick sniff she went over to the feeder and started to eat. This is when I really went to work drying off the cria, dipping his umbilical cord, and getting some jumpstart into him. Pistol was very alert and it didn’t take long before he was sternal and then up on his feet. Princess spoke to him constantly and would walk over to him occasionally to sniff , hum, and cluck at him. Other than that she left him to me to finish drying him up.
When I got Pistol dry/warm enough I placed him under mom to get his first drink but he didn’t know what to do. I decided to milk mom. Again to my surprise Princess stood still and simply ate as I milked her. I was only under her for about a minute before the heat from her body made it so unbearable to stay under her any longer. I was happy to get 20 cc’s out of her and into the cria. Before I gave him the colostrum I gave him a finger full of karo syrup. I did this for 2 reasons. First, I wanted to make sure he had a sucking reflex and second, crias are usually born hypoglycemic. The sugar I was giving him would give him an energy boost. Pistol took my finger and sucked on it. Then I gave him the syringe of colostrum. I probably plunged into his mouth about a cc. At first taste I noticed a significant interest from Pistol. He immediately turned to me looking for more milk which I happily supplied. This first feeding I had to squeeze in the milk.
After waiting a while I then placed Pistol under mom again. Even though I was placing him on the teats he had no idea or interest to start to suckle or lick. I milked Princess for a second time. This time when I went to squeeze in the milk from the syringe Pistol was sucking and sucked so hard that the plunger went down automatically. This was a great sign.
Our third attempt under mom was much better. I opened Pistol’s mouth on the teat and he finally started to lick. As soon as he got a little milk out he started to work more eagerly to get more. Great he was now nursing. Now I had to make sure he knew how to continue.
The next hour I waited to see what he would do and unfortunately he still didn’t understand to go under mom. However, as soon as I showed him the teats he was off and nursing. Each hour for most of the afternoon I had to continue showing him where to go. Finally at 3:30 pm I found him for the first time under mom nursing on his own. Woo hoo! This meant I could actually sleep tonight. After this first nursing I then found Pistol under mom continuously. This boy can drink!
DMAR Princess is a wonderful mother. She is very attentive to her cria and she has plenty of milk (we did not have her on the pasture where there is fescue this year). She looks thoroughly happy with her little one. I am so happy for her and myself considering what she and I (and Tommy) went through last year with her cria.
Last year Princess gave birth to a cria who was very sick. Princess who normally has milk at birth was completely dry. I found out later that fescue causes alpacas to not have milk. Even though we provided goat colostrum the cria still needed to have a plasma transfusion. We ended up bringing the cria into the house because it was cold outside and we had to feed her over night both bottle feeding and tube feeding when she hit one of her lowest points. Finally she was well enough to go outside with mom again but by this time the cria didn’t recognize mom and wouldn’t nurse from her even though with some domperidone Princess had milk. Princess eventually walked away from the cria who paid her no attention. The cria broke our hearts when after 7 weeks of continual care and medication for everything she was battling she died from pneumonia.
DMAR Princess is a 9x champion. The sire is our champion male, DMAR Magnum, who is a Presidio grandson.
We are thrilled with the arrival of our new cria and more thrilled that mom is taking care of him!