Stansbury Alpacas was established in 1997 but it wasn't until 2001 with a herd of about twenty, that I was in the right place at the right time to view an alpaca being born. I found it very interesting that everything seemed to stop when the head and neck were out while the lungs drain. The dam even started eating hay at one stage. If I hadn't been told this was normal I think my nervous wait would have turned to panic as this stage lasted eighteen minutes. However, the shoulders were pushed clear and it was all over in another minute. The following sequence of pictures may be useful to alpaca breeders expecting their first cria.
The mature female "EVITA" about to give birth was restless and constantly moving around while sitting and getting up and down. She was looking very uncomfortable and visited the dung pile often. The tail was held tightly up and the vulva was a bursting point. The nose appeared first and then the head.
The head was quickly followed by the front feet. Evita walked in a few circles trying to get a view of what was happening. At this stage fluid could be seen draining from the cria's mouth and the cria started shaking it's head. With the head and legs out Evita began eating from the hay bale and at one stage looked as if she thought it was all over and it was rest time. However, labour took over again with very strong contractions needed to push the shoulders clear. The tendency is to want to help, however, this stage may last ten or more minutes while the lungs drain and if rushed may not drain properly.
When the shoulders are clear, gravity takes over and the cria arrives quickly. The proud mum, Evita, stands over her new baby and can be quite protective until she realizes that you are not a threat. If allowed close enough it is a good idea to check that there is no membrane covering the mouth or nose and that there is no umbilical cord hemorrhage. You may also want to know what sex it is but then give the new mum some space. The final stage is the afterbirth which may arrive quite a bit later. It is good to check that it was expelled in one piece.
It usually take the cria a little time to find the right end of mum and where to actually suck. Evita was patient as the cria almost got there several times before finally latching on. The final picture shows the cria, "STANSBURY'S WINDRUSH" at five days old. Windrush is now a mother and grandmother herself while Evita is still producing brothers and sisters for her.
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