Alpacas have a gestation length of 335 to 365 days, with 350 days as a mean. As the time of birth approaches, you may notice some, all of none of the following signs:
enlargement of teats,
relaxation and puffiness around the vulva
will separate herself from the herd
lots of moaning
showing more signs of discomfort, getting up and lying down frequently
will go to the poop pile a lot, and strain
not coming to the feed
feet or nose sticking out (sure sign)
Most birth occur during daylight hours. . If birthing at night, there could be higher incidence of dystocia ( any difficult birth is called a dystocia) - but not always. Often the alpaca will show labor-like symptoms two weeks before the baby is due. She may lay down with her hind legs kicked out to the side and appear uncomfortable. The vulva will stretch and you may see its pink lining. It does not necessarily mean that delivery is imminent, but if she appears to be straining she may be in labor. Watch her closely. Most likely, she will begin to act normal again in a short while but is she continues to strain or if you see amniotic fluid leaking from the vulva, be prepared for a delivery.
If you have a male living with your female be sure to remove him from her pasture before she is due. He could try to breed her while she is giving birth, which could be a bad situation for mother and baby. When the female starts having contraction, within a short time you should see the water sac bulging from the vulva, followed by the nose and front feet (hopefully). At this stage things usually move quickly and the baby should be out within 30 minutes or less.
*If it takes longer, be prepared to help.
*If you have not been able to resolve the problem within 15 minutes, call the vet.
*If you see the tail or back feet come out first, do not wait, call the vet immediately.
*If you don't have any experience with birthing, as soon as the alpaca goes into labor, call the vet to see if he will be available come should you need him. He could be out of town or whatever, and you need time to locate an alternate vet.
One of the most difficult decision is deciding if your alpaca is having a difficult birth and needs help. It is sometimes hard to figure out if the alpaca is really in labor, let alone figuring out is she is having a dystocia. After the mother has given birth, make sure she passes her placenta. She will usually do so within the hour. If she has not passed it within about 6 hours, you need to call the vet. Never pull on any membranes that are hanging out, you could cause some damage.
The following is a list of first aid supplies to have on hand for both normal and problem deliveries:
TOOL BOX (or anything else to keep all supplies in one place)
gauze pads or paper towels
disposable plastic gloves (long and short)
Vetrap for tail wraps
film canister for treating navel
navel clamp or dental floss
baby bottle and nipples
l6" puppy feeding tube and Lady Clairol bottle
SMALL WATER PAIL
COLOSTRUM in freezer
VET'S PHONE NUMBER
DR.BRAD SMITH'S BOOK "LLAMA AND ALPACA NEONATAL CARE"
The baby is on the ground, what to do next:
Make sure it is breathing normally - no fetal membranes covering the nose.If not breathing right, pick up by feet and shake to get all the fluid out of the lungs.
Dip navel with 7% iodine - repeat 2 more times during first 24 hours or until umbilicus is dried. Rub cria with a towel to dry, then step back and let the mother take over.
The baby should be up within 30 Mn (longer when it is hot) and should attempt to nurse within an hour and be nursing within no longer than 3- 4 hours. Make sure the baby is not cold or laying in the hot sun.
When baby is dry, weigh it to get initial weight, then weigh daily for at least a week to make sure he is gaining to 1 lb per day. Many babies lose or remain the same for the first day or two, but then should gain weight. Observe and make sure it is nursing and that the mother has milk.
Make sure the baby has passed the meconium, if not give an enema. Use a human Fleet enema, or 4-8 ounces of warm water with a few drops of ivory soap is fine too.
If the cria seems lethargic and does not make much effort to nurse or seems weak, check his temperature - should be around 100 - 102F. If it is lower, warm the baby, you can use a hair dryer or an electric blanket and rub him briskly with a towel. Once the temperature has become normal, start feeding the baby, either mother's milk or goat colostrum. It is best if he will drink from a bottle, if not tube feed. The main thing is to get some colostrum into the baby as soon as possible.
In most instances, unless something is wrong, after a feeding or two, he will be strong enough to start nursing the mother. I usually feed the newborn 6 to 8 oz of goat colostrum at birth, it seem to give them such a jump start and it gives me peace of mind knowing they have gotten colostrum. Within the first 24 hours of birth, the cria needs to receive a minimum of 10-15% of body weight in colostrum. So, if he is not nursing the mother, a 20 lb cria would need 32 to 48oz of colostrum. Unless it is very weak or premature, you can feed it 8oz at a time, if not feed smaller amounts more often. The main thing is to keep the baby warm and well fed, so he can get some energy. Keep monitoring his temperature, sometimes weak babies have a hard time thermoregulating, and can chill easily. And no matter how weak the baby may be, NEVER GIVE UP, miracles happen every day.
Finally, the most important thing to remember when your llama begins to give birth is DON'T PANIC! Most of the time, there will be no problem. If you suspect a problem and delivery seems prolonged, call your vet immediately and have your llama put up in the barn or haltered , so as not to loose precious time.
There are times when the alpaca breeder will have reason to tube feed a baby alpaca. A reluctant mother, lack of initial milk production, a weak or orphaned baby are all reasons why you should have at least some familiarity with this procedure. The newborn must have nourishment within a short time after birth and needs to receive the all-important colostrum during the first few hours of life. Here is a step-by-step method of safely intubating the young alpaca.
The required materials :
tube, syringe or equivalent container and the fluids to be given.
Adequate tubing: There is no specific tube required but the size should be relative to the size
of the baby. The smallest tube would be of 4.0mm or approximately 3/16" in diameter. The largest
would be 8.7mm or approximately 1/4" in diameter (pencil size).
Rubber tubing is more flexible and easier to insert than plastic, and easier to pass.
A 18 french red rubber feeding tube which is 16" long works well in crias.
If only a longer tube is available, measure it against the the neck, from the tip of the
nose to the last rib and mark the tube with a felt point pen at the lip line at the front
of the mouth.
Syringes: To administer the fluids a squeeze type of container or a 60cc syringe will work.
Fluids: This may be colostrum, milk or other fluids. The amount to administer will vary.
The warmth of the fluid should be at least room temperature and preferably warm the fluids to
100 degrees prior to administration. It is important not to administer it to a weak newborn at
a cold temperature.
Method: Restraint is most easily accomplished by having the baby kush
and the person doing the tubing kneeling astraddle of the baby's back, with little or no pressure
on the baby. Keep the baby's head level, not up.
Getting the tube into the wrong place is somewhat difficult. With a bit of patience the baby will
help get the tube in the right place by swallowing the tube. It is helpful to lubricate the tube
slightly with either a small amount of honey, syrup or a little KY jelly, applied to the first
four inches of the tube.
Bend over and hold the baby's head in your left hand . Squeeze the sides of the lips from side to side about halfway back on the mouth; this causes the mouth to open slightly; be gentle. Insert the tube (unattached) into the mouth, over the top of the tongue and slowly feed the tube in, allowing the baby to swallow the tube as you feed it in.
After you have fed in about 10 to 12 inches of tubing you should be able to feel and probably see the tube passing down the throat. Firmly apply "four finger" pressure on the throat just to the left of center, on the front of the neck, just to the left of the hard-tube-like structure of the trachea or windpipe.
If you are able to feel the rubber tubing sliding down (move it up and down to be certain), you are in the correct location. If you are not certain of placement, do not hesitate to withdraw the tube and begin again. If a cough is stimulated, it possibly means you are in the trachea; withdraw and start again.
After the tube has been inserted in the right place, then attach the bottle or syringe. If you are using a shorter length of tubing you should administer the fluids more slowly allowing them to flow down the remainder of the esophagus into the stomach. If you are using a previously marked stomach length tube, feed the length in to the lip mark. With a tube into the stomach, the fluids can be administered rather rapidly.
Removal of the tube is an important step. Kink the end of the tube or, if a larger-bore tube, hold your finger or thumb over the end during removal to prevent leakage of milk or other fluids as the tube is removed. This "leakage" could possibly get into the trachea. Keep the tube "plugged" this way until it is completely out of the mouth. All of the items used in tubing do not need to be sterile but should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water and rinsed well, before and after each use.