Calico decided to have her cria a week early, not for the first time, and on shearing day, also not for the first time! We started with the 2 big boys, Ardingly and Goldrush, then the intermediate boys, and then the weanlings and in all this time Calico was quietly getting on with what looked like completely normal first stage labour. Rebecca, Lucy and Jim were keeping an eye on her, as I was busy skirting and bagging fleeces as they came off. At some point and I can't remember when Rebecca asked me to come and check her out, as she was obviously having difficulties.
The beauty of knowing your females is that you know when something isn't right, Calico's last few crias have been textbook delivery, although a few years ago she had a bad birth, again, on shearing day and it was not a good outcome for the cria.
Armed with loads of lube I had a rummage about and decided it was either a uterine torsion or a breach, if I had thought about it more clearly it had to be a torsion as I couldn't feel the cria, but it was shearing day! Anyway, it certainly wasn't normal and beyond my skills, especially on shearing day, so I called the Vet for help. He arrived within half an hour thankfully and confirmed a torsion. We have had one of those before and so I knew what to expect. Phil, the Vet hadn't done one on an alpaca before, but plenty of cows of course. He was brilliant and with the help of Peter and Stuart, who I stole away from shearing and me holding her head, we gently rolled her over to untwist the torsion whilst he pushed down on her belly to keep the unborn cria in her uterus in one place - if that males sense. After warning me that the cria may not be alive and that she may not dilate fully and he might have to do a cesarian ... ever the optimist I suggested we wait a little while. Thankfully her cervix slowly dilated over 5 minutes or so, the cria was still moving and he very gently delivered the cria. He swung her from her hind legs to clear her lungs and there was loads of blood from the umbilical, I grabbed a clamp, so relieved I had restocked on those last week, and soon it stemmed the flow. All was fine - a live birth, no cesarian and a female too. Result!
Vet gone, having leant on the gate to watch the shearing for a while - and I got back to work. I had a look about hour later and Treasure was claiming the cria as hers and not allowing the cria to suckle from Calico! So we picked up the cria and moved them into the next door paddock for a bit of privacy and quiet bonding. Another half an hour or probably more, all the time shearing going on and all that that entails, it was clear that the cria, although lively, hadn't sucked and was trying to find a teat on the tree!! So with a bit of help from my friends we made a pen in the paddock, popped them into it and I latched the cria on. She had a really good long feed, got the hang of where the milk bar was and then we let them out of the pen.
Shearing finished - I decided Calico had been through enough for one day and we'll do her next week ourselves.
Now I'm going out again to check on them all - I won't know who's who for a couple of days and they all look so elegant and clean and tidy - I on the other hand look a real mess and I'm filthy!
We have our first cria - YAY!!! We left Calico to be sheared another day - I reckon she didn't need it today!
|Weanling whites ready and waiting - little do they know what's in store!|
|Ha - Donna - you'll regret making that face when you see this!!|
|Mike the shearer and me!|
|Mike in action and the team getting the next one ready|
|"What have they done to you?"|
|Topsey Turvey and his friends looking quite different!|
|Lots of lovely fleeces|
|And here she is " Meon Valley Good Karma"|