Willow has delivered her cria! The anticipation of this particular cria's arrival has been intense! Willow is my favorite girl in the herd and this is Willow's very first pregnancy. She was bred to our herdsire Chocolate Chip. We had high hopes for this cria.
Yesterday, the wait was over. At 348 days gestation, Willow delivered a lovely, healthy, and large (18.8 pounds!) cria. It's a girl - and we couldn't be happier!
Poor Willow... She is a small girl, but her belly was huge! I knew when I put the girls out on the pasture, that Willow would be delivering sometime today. She is in the early stages of labor here.
Even though inexperienced, Willow handled delivery like a pro! In less than half an hour from the time the above photo was taken, she had delivered her baby.
It was still cool and cloudy, and baby was cold, so we moved to the shelter where I could warm her with the hair dryer. Willow is so sweet and calm. She waits patiently and gets to know her baby while allowing me to handle her.
Although it's hard to tell in the pictures, the baby is a lovely mix of light fawn and white colors. Not really a pattern, but a more subtle blending of colors.
At just an hour old, baby takes her first steps. A greeting for Mom and she's ready for the 'milk bar'.
With a bit of milk in baby's belly, and a clear bond with each other, Willow takes her baby to the lower pasture for the afternoon.
The rest of the herd is very excited to meet the newest addition!
We are pleased to introduce the newest addition to our herd - Laycee of Pronkin' Pastures!
I’m sure you noticed that I never told you the new baby’s name. That was intentional.
Our first two days with the new guy were really tough - we weren’t sure he would make it. And even the next couple of days, though better, still weren’t great. It doesn’t take much for a fragile cria to crash.
In his first few days, our little guy had a good suckle reflex, but showed little more than a passing interest in nursing. This isn’t a good thing for baby or mom, and threw us into a bad pattern. Since the baby wasn’t nursing, Lily’s udder became quite full and she became uncomfortable. Once Lily was uncomfortable, she no longer welcomed his little head tentatively poking around under there.
A little human intervention and some medication got Lily back on track, but our little guy just wasn’t very persistent. Once again, his lack of interest got Lily to the point of being uncomfortable and required more intervention by us. Around and around we went!
By Saturday morning, we were headed down a slippery slope. He had lost nearly a pound since Thursday. We continued to do the best we could to keep Lily comfortable, and supplemented baby just enough to keep his energy up but his tummy looking for more. We walked a fine line between supplementing him with a bottle so that he didn’t get too weak, but not giving him enough to make him full or to expect to get his groceries from another source. We wanted him to keep looking to Mom for that.
I’m not sure what caused the turn around, but when I came out to check on Sunday morning, I was delighted to see our little guy nursing! Evidently something clicked overnight because his weigh-in showed that he had gained about 2 tenths of a pound! This is not a huge amount, but is so much better than losing weight!
He is now gaining each day… From 18.6 pounds at birth, he dipped down to a low of 17.8, and is up to a whopping 20 pounds today! I’m hopeful that he is on the right path now!
Since we think he’ll be around for a while, we’ve given him the name 'Forrest of Pronkin’ Pastures'. And in case you are wondering… that’s Forrest - as in Forrest Gump.
the weather report shows that we have had more rain in the first 8 days of June than we normally have in the whole month, but that didn't keep our Lily from selecting this particularly wet morning to have her baby.
On Thursday morning I let the girls out to the large pasture. They usually go out there and wander and graze and spread themselves out around the pasture. As I was cleaning in the paddock area, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of an alpaca running out there. Then saw that the entire female herd was all huddled up, and I knew what the excitement was all about... Lily was delivering her baby!
Delivering the cria in this position is not the normal way it is done. Normally, the dam is standing. But we call Lily 'our drama queen' for good reason - because she really is a drama queen! She is the first girl in the herd to cush, lay down, or scream in protest whenever she is unhappy. If it were any other female in the herd delivering like this, I would have been quite concerned, but knowing Lily, I know this is just 'her'. She is an experienced mom and has always given birth quickly and with no assistance. This time she has delivered an 18 pound boy.
Once the baby was on the ground, and Lily was ready to follow, I brought them up to the barn to dry baby off and take his temperature. Baby's temp read less than 97 degrees - too low for a baby alpaca - and time to get baby warmed up quickly! I dried baby off with a towel, followed by warming with a hair dryer.
Next step, into the 'cria hot tub'! Yes, baby is put into a tub of warm water to help raise it's body temperature. But before entering the tub, baby is put into a heavy duty plastic bag to keep dry.
Thankfully, I called my faithful friend, and she came to our rescue. I could not have managed the 'hot tub' by myself. She kept baby calm and dry, while I brought warm water out to the barn.
He got to feeling pretty good in the hot tub. And what a sweet face!
Just out of the hot tub, he takes his first shaky steps while Lily has a little snack.
While baby was in the hot tub, Lily left the cria care to me, and took care of passing the placenta. She is happy to meet her new baby.
Lily and baby get to know each other.
Later that afternoon, baby takes a break. It's been a very long day!
To be sure he stays warm and dry overnight, we put a coat on baby and tuck him and Lily in for the evening.
About the author:
Always an animal lover, alpacas entered my life in 2005.
I enjoy all aspects of life with alpacas - from caring for them, to training them, spinning and knitting their wonderful fiber, photographing them, and even writing about them!