Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bad times...

For me one of the most important things about writing a blog, is the sharing of experiences. Yes, it is lovely to share the births of our cria, to share our successes in the show ring, our sales and purchases...but the most important thing is... it has to be honest...well today I can honestly tell you I am not sure that I am equipped to be an alpaca breeder. I am exhausted through lack of sleep and worry...where does one purchase a thicker skin?

On Saturday morning Paul volunteered to do the six am rounds. As in the norm, all of the females had come in to the barn, but he noticed right at the top of the paddock, a cria lying alone (thankfully he has better eyesight than I). Finding Cloud Nine showing all the signs of colic and in obvious distress we brought her in.

We gave her Buscopan, Flunixin, and vitamin B1. Being at two months of age, we also considered internal parasites so gave oral Cydectin and Vecoxan. We also gave her a soapy enema (feacal sample tested and negative for parasites). No anaemia, no weight loss, no diarrhoea. Both Lambivac injections already given. Although she didn't have a temperature I gave her long acting Amoxypen cover. We then got some oral electrolytes into her.

So what to do next, she was still really flat after a couple of hours, so I rang the vet to ask if they would consider intravenous fluids. However, after examination it was decided she wasn't especially dehydrated and to continue orally (this is my intensive care nurse background...give iv in cases of severe abdominal abnormalities as absorption compromised...but I agreed). We did manage to get a reasonable amount of goats milk in orally. 

By Sunday afternoon, with continued Buscapan and vitamin B1 she had improved to the point of drinking from her dam (Chaska) and appeared neurologically to be back to normal. We made the decision, as Chaska didn't like being locked in, to leave them with the rest of the herd. Cloud was rugged up and looked fine.

Monday morning 6am and we find Cloud in the paddock again, kushed but not looking great. This time I was sure that she was dehydrated, and being Monday I was able to request our 'alpaca vet'. Cloud was given intravenous fluids and definitely brightened up, but we were back to Buscopan, vitamin B1 and continued antibiotics (still apyrexial). Although she could stand she looked severely depressed. The vet was called back late afternoon, when her temp was up to 40.5 degrees and her heart rate and respiratory rate had increased. Intra venous plasma, Marbocyl, and further fluids were administered, and again she seemed brighter once hydrated. 

However, it was not to be, and we lost her in the early hours. We left Cloud with Chaska until morning. I think Chaska knew on Saturday that things were not good, she kept leaving her, and we kept thinking "Chaska look after her for goodness sake" but she is obviously upset and searching for her. She stood for a hug, I am not sure Chaska was actually crying, but the rest of us were. It doesn't get any easier, but I hope we will end up wiser. Cloud has gone for a post mortem. Unfortunately we have rarely found any reason for the loss of cria at this young age. We will see. One thing I do think is alpacas do not fair well with any significant level of dehydration...do not be fooled by the idea that camelids can cope without adequate fluid levels for any time. 

Sadly we lost two young cria between 4 and 8 weeks of age last year. It is so heart breaking when you get them delivered safely and away, to lose them at this stage.


                                                             Cloud Nine the day she was born


  1. Sad news, so sorry. Hope you know that no one could have done more for poor Cloud. x

  2. Barbara, no-one fights harder to save cria than you do. I know how you are feeling, we have had the sleepless nights too. Time passes and pain eases. You have much to look forward to. x

  3. So sorry Barbara - you did everything you could. I've been there and it's hard. xx

  4. Thinking of you all at this very sad time. It's an awful painful time. Sadly it never seems to get any easier when you try so hard to help them. Hopefully time will help with ther healing process. At time like this we all ask the same question ... 'why' Jayne

  5. You did all you could and more than most. Don't grow a too thick skin. The reason you are the best is you care so much ! Thoughts and love. ..

  6. That's really, really sad but well done Barbara, Paul and co for the valiant efforts to save Cloud. Shirley & Robbie

  7. Well, if you are not equipped to be an alpaca breeder, I had better pack it all in now - you did far more than I would have even thought of. I am really sorry for your loss and I know the little one could not have been in better hands. Every best wish.

  8. What can I add? Big hugs from us at LGM.