Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pepita's Cria

Cria watch is over at my farm.  It started with one birth and ended with the same birth.  I did have three pregnant females heading into the spring. Two of those (Cassa Blanca and Jessie) were sold, and then delivered to their new home where their offspring were born.

That left pregnant Pepita here.  I don't think Pepita really enjoyed her pregnancy.  She's been pretty ornery for the past 11 and a half months of her gestation.  (Yes, Ladies....that's right....quit complaining about your 9 month pregnancy!) 

Watching for an impending cria birth is nerve-wracking, since we work off-farm. I scheduled the whole family (and sometimes friends) to ensure Pepita was checked quite often.  Most alpaca births are uneventful, natural and fairly quick....but we don't like to take chances.  Eleven and a half months is the average pregnancy...but a normal birth still puts the delivery date somewhere in a month range.  That's a whole lot of waiting and worrying. 

Pepita had had pretty full teats for a couple weeks which is an indicator of a cria on its way.  Tuesday morning, I had a feeling that delivery day was here.  Pepita had what my friend, Nancy Carr of Silver Cloud Alpacas, has coined as 'hip-dip'...with some experience, you can actually see the hip muscles relax prior to birth.  I pleaded with Pepita, when giving the morning pellet rations, to have the cria in the morning before I had to leave for work at noon.

I kept an eye on her from the house.  I guessed that she was in early labour about 9:30am when she was alternately laying down away from her herdmates and then going to the poop-pile.  Things looked a bit more serious around 10:30am, so I put on my boots and headed to the pasture.

There were two little feet and a nose sticking out under her tail - which is exactly what you want to see.  We've had 30-some births on the farm, and I've witnessed about half of them.  Pepita has only had one other birth and we had to help a little bit, so I was prepared to give her some assistance if required.  Our inclination is to let nature proceed without our involvement - as it's always possible to do more harm than good by intervening.    

The only concern was that Pepita kept laying on the ground which was making it difficult for the cria to make it's way out the canal and into the world.  Alpaca usually give birth standing up, with the baby hanging out by the its hips for a bit before it drops to the ground.  I understand this is nature's way of ensuring any fluid drains from the nostrils and mouth.

So, I haltered Pepita so that I could keep her up.  With my teenage daughter (who arrived in her mini-skirt and rubber boots, no less) gently stroking Pepita's neck, saying 'Push, honey' once (yes, I'm serious...she's watched to many episodes of ER!)...the little guy was born. 

Everything else that happens with a birth, plus the cleanup and well-baby check happened before 11:15am.

A quick shower, check that the cria was heading towards the teats and I was off to work on time.
No Problem.
(And what did YOUR library clerk do before SHE went to work?)

These pictures, including the one above, were taken when the cria was about 22 hours old.  He weighed 20lbs.

In this picture, Pepita blows around his butt end as an encouragement to nurse.  A raised little curl of a tail is usually a good sign that he's latched onto a teat.  Pepita has ample milk.

The mother clucks and hums a lot at her cria.  He knows that she means 'Stay with me and away from the 2 legged one'.  

Thanks Pepita, good mom.
Job well done.


Zenitude (formerly Wooly Knits n Bits) said...

He's just so adorable.

Prudence Puddleduck said...

I did notice a glow about my library clerk...cute,cute,cute just nature at her very very best indeed! Good team work mom& daughter....cant ever learn that in school...memories priceless.

Carol Tomany said...

Loved it - zoo interesting!!

oak haven alpacas said...

wonderful birth story!

We too have to arrange cria watch, while they do usually do it all on their own, I'd so hate to think about a dam struggling and being there with no one to help. We find this results in many a text message about "no baby" but I'd rather see that at work then worry what could be happening. Surprisingly my husband or I have been home and on deck for just about every birth (one we came home to and it must have gone well since cria was up and nursing when we got there). Though I am waiting for the text from our daughter of "get home now, baby on the way". One of these days she'll be the foreman of the event :) She's the one most squeamish about it (my son would take the lead anytime, he's witness so many births). Farm kids learn so much!!


luckybunny said...

Big congrats!!! Absolutely adorable