Coco

Adopt Coco
Adopt Coco
Coco

£300 Coco is 9 years old and he is looking for a home as a pet. He has a lovely dark espresso coloured fleece and despite the long teeth he is gentle to hand feed. He has been castrated. His light frame means he is not difficult to handle. The price is set to cover costs of rehoming. We just want him to go to a loving home with a few friends for company.

Please contact us to enquire or for more info.

Unpacking a Monkey Part 2

Thursday morning 21st May – Enya’s cria is now guzzling down the goat milk and gaining weight every day. She is a mischievous little madam, who doesn’t like being caught, even if it is for feeding; and weighing is also not popular. We are tired from getting up in the middle of the night, but otherwise, all is well.

Thursday afternoon the little lady is sunbathing, and because alpacas always look like they have been shot when they sunbathe I go over to check on her. She looks tired and so we check her temperature, 39.10C. Not a good sign. Action stations, we telephone the on-call vet from Chase View, and they can come within the next couple of hours. This is fine because Madam is still following Mum around so we were not too worried yet.

45 mins later

The cria is now lying on the floor groaning. She does not resist when we move her and has deteriorated very quickly. Fortunately, when we call the veterinary practice again, they have just finished the emergency surgery and can come straight away. The on-call vet checks the cria over but the symptoms do not point to an obvious cause, so he calls the practice alpaca expert Kate the Vet. We know it is not good when he says she is coming out to the farm, stopping at the practice to collect equipment on the way. Meanwhile, the on-call vet telephones the Pet Blood Bank to discuss the likelihood of getting some blood plasma tonight. Kate arrives, and it is looking like sepsis. The Pet Blood Bank has advised that getting plasma would take at least a couple of days and cost upwards of £1,000. So, we decide on a broad-spectrum antibiotic and intravenous fluids. Kate takes blood samples to see if they confirm an infection and we are left about 9pm with the fluids to give into the vein overnight. Kate the Vet telephones to say that the blood test has not shown anything obvious and all we can do is keep giving the fluids and hope she makes it through the night. We set up a hospital pen and give the cria an extra blanket and go to bed, not knowing what we will find when we next check on her at midnight.

Midnight

It started raining just before I came out to do the fluids. The cria is still looking unwell, but she has repositioned herself and lifts her head when I come into the shelter, which is an improvement on 3 hours ago. After giving the fluids, I try her with a bottle of milk, and she manages 100mls. At 4 am we give more fluids, she is moving around so much we are at risk of dislodging the needle in her vein. By the time Kate arrives the next morning the little madam is on her feet, calling for Mum, and trying to get out of her hospital pen.

We have no idea what was wrong, or why she suddenly got better. We give her more antibiotics over the next few days and Kate calls daily to check if the cria has put on weight and is still eating well. On Tuesday the needle is taken out of her little neck and Tuesday evening we finally remove the bandages.

We have been discussing names for days. Our initial plan was to use Gin brands as a theme and fortunately, we have found one that seems appropriate. So welcome to the world Monkey47. Hopefully, she has seen enough of vets for a very long time!

 

Unpacking a Monkey

“Libby, the baby’s coming!” With those few words started a week of highs and lows that I now have time to share with you. Enya, our beautiful, solid brown 3-year-old, gave birth to her first cria (baby alpaca).

By the time I reached her in the field, the front feet and head were already out. Enya was lying down, not the best position for a cria to unpack (be born) but it seemed to be coming out easily enough. My pulse was racing, I was garbling out instructions for the children to bring things, including hot water and towels, and I was phoning everyone I could think of that could talk me through the process in case I had to intervene.

I remembered to tie Enya’s tail up out of the way, and then the lovely Steve of Ashwood Alpacas called me back and talked me through what to do. At one point he ended up talking up Enya’s bottom. When I moved the cria round to Enya’s head I dropped my phone, Enya decided to move slightly and ended up sitting on my phone, I won’t go into detail about what it was now covered in. Thank God for gloves and loudspeakers. (I have since disinfected my phone)

The marvellous Kate Kerry of Chase View Vets had responded to my panicked call of 30 mins before and arrived just after the baby was born. Animals generally do these things a lot faster than humans, no 56-hour labour for Enya to endure! Kate agreed that everything seemed to be looking good and, all we had to do was stand back and watch. Enya had ignored the manual that says that alpacas usually give birth in the morning, but it was a warm, dry day and everything had gone like clockwork so far – spoke too soon.

The cria arrived at 2.30 pm on Monday 18th May and now the clock is ticking.

There are certain milestones that a cria needs to hit within the first 6 hours to have the best start in life. They need to sit up within the first 30 mins, stand within the first 3 hours and suckle within the first 4 hours. Unlike humans, alpaca mums do not pass their immunity across the placenta to the foetus, the only way they get essential antibodies is from the thick sweet first milk from the mum called colostrum. Otherwise, they can suffer what is termed Failure of Passive Transfer or FPT. The cria’s gut allows these antibodies to pass through into the bloodstream for only the first 24 hours but the first 6 hours is the most effective window. Sometimes it takes a while for the Dam (Mum) to pass the placenta or afterbirth, and this can help stimulate the milk. That is supposed to happen within the first couple of hours, so we were not worried yet.

We had one or two of the family in the field on cria watch from the sidelines all afternoon. One of the most commonly recommended pieces of equipment for a new breeder is a piece of rope to tie yourself to a chair outside the field to stop you interfering. It is exceedingly difficult not to cuddle the bundle of cuteness. At 6.30 pm the afterbirth finally appeared. It was perfectly intact, but, now what do I do with 5kgs of bloody alpaca insides on a hot sunny evening- stick it into several layers of plastic bags and into the freezer to deal with at a later date of course.

We were now getting time-critical. Enya had only 2 hours left to get the good stuff into the cria. An hour later Mum was still not showing much interest in her baby so we called the vet.

There we are in the fading daylight holding Enya on her side while the Vet tries to get the baby to latch on and suckle, and, also milking Mum to give to baby via syringe. We decide we need to get some colostrum. Fortunately, a friendly dairy farmer had frozen some fresh cow colostrum for me a few weeks earlier just in case. Cow’s milk is fine for alpacas but, goat’s milk is preferable as a replacement if Mum has no milk. Enya and her baby were put in a small pen so that hopefully between them, they would work it out. We continued to feed the baby with the cow colostrum every 2 hours through the night. We tried to milk Enya again at 1 am but it was not very successful. We decided we were not achieving enough to warrant the stress it was causing to Mum and baby so stuck to just syringing the cow colostrum into the baby’s mouth.

If a cria does not get milk from Mum FPT is a real concern. To resolve FPT a blood plasma transfusion is often recommended. Indeed, the big breeders will have plasma prepared from their own herd in advance of the “unpacking season”. We did not. We have a cria born late in the day, not suckled from Mum at all and given cows colostrum, not goats – we were just waiting for something to go wrong.

Next morning, Kate the Vet comes to check the baby over and takes some blood samples to check for signs of infection and hydration levels so we can decide if we need to order a bag of plasma from the Pet Blood Bank, just in case. The blood samples look perfect, the cria is feeding well from the bottle and is lively and inquisitive.  Kate the Vet has put us in touch with a local goat farm and we now have 5 litres of fresh raw goats’ milk in the fridge. Enya is taking an interest, although still behaving more like a big sister than a Mum, all seems well so we decide not to order the plasma.

 

48 hours later we were really wishing we had ordered the plasma.

 

See episode 2 of Unpacking a Monkey for what happened next.

Erma

Wye Valley Alpacas Erma on a Halter

Wye Valley Alpacas Erma on a Halter

Erma is an inquisitive girl who is very keen on her food. She is 2 years old, halter trained, and used to people, going in a trailer and noise. Even the Electricity Company’s low flying helicopter doesn’t bother her. She has not been put to the stud yet so her price will change if she is successfully mated. Price:£800

Please contact us to enquire or for more info.

Do Alpacas Spit

Pacas and Proscecco

Yes, but they don’t usually mean to get you!  The most common reason is another alpaca is trying to pinch their food. Mostly it happens like this:

  • Timi takes a mouthful of food from the bucket,
  • CJ tries to help himself to Timi’s bucket.
  • Timi spits at CJ to warn him off;
  • I’m standing the other side of the fence filling buckets and end up with a bra full of alpaca food.

Spitting always seems a silly idea to me because they end up spitting out the food they are trying to protect.

There are three stages of spitting.

  • Air spit (plus whatever was in their mouth at the time). This is just a warning shot.
  • Proper spit which is a bit wet and means they are really, quite annoyed now.
  • Full on stinky, green slimy pea soup exorcist time means they are now extremely hacked off and someone is going to get it. Trust me it really, really, …really stinks.

We had one old girl who hated shearing, she would bring up the foul green gunge to express her displease at the experience. The only other time I have seen the green gunge attack was the day we collected the herd. There was a crow on the fence. The crow must have said something rude because one of the boys spat straight at the crow; knocked him right off his perch!

The green spit is grass or hay regurgitated up from their stomach. You do get a warning; if their ears are back and their nose is raised in the air look out and back off.

You can always tell if an alpaca has been spitting a lot because afterwards they end up with a droopy bottom lip and drooling. Also known as “spitty mouth”. You know that feeling after the dentist when the anaesthetic is wearing off and your lips feel all fuzzy and floppy. It’s like that. The consequence being that once Timi has seen CJ off his bucket, he can no longer move his mouth properly to eat the food he has been protecting. He then spends 5 mins shaking his head trying to get the feeling back into his mouth.

Spitting is also part of the mating process, believe it or not. Once an alpaca is pregnant, she will no longer be interested in the attentions of any boy, even if he looks like Chris Hemsworth. If the boy attempts to mate with the pregnant girl she will spit at him till he goes away, the “spit off”. Telling the boy it doesn’t matter that its 3am and the club is about to close, he is NOT going home with her. Breeders often use the fact that pregnant girls spit off to indicate which girls have been successfully mated.

So, if an alpaca is eyeballing you with their ears back and head raised, you’d better apologise and run for cover because it is about to rain, or they are pregnant…