Clara Boulton – 3rd May 2022

03 May 2022     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

A Tangled Tale

One of our beautiful girls, Chamonix, started labour the other day. Known for her easy births and big strong cria who are trying to stand almost immediately we were just overwhelmed with the typical birthing excitement. We quickly noticed something wasn’t right, she is normally a very quick birther from when we notice her pushing, but she simply wasn’t progressing. We decided to put our minds at ease (or start the process of getting the vet here ASAP!) and check her out. It is so important in these circumstances to know your limits and when to play it safe and call the vet immediately for advice. With experience of birthing livestock on our side we felt comfortable enough to make an assessment first, mainly so we could give the vet all the information needed so the best plan could be formed.

As soon as I didn’t feel anything in the birth canal my heart sank as I immediately assumed the worst. Low and behold, it was one of the worst situations and we had a tangled cria who stood no chance of making it’s way into the birth canal on it’s own. Our first port of call, regardless of what we feel comfortable doing, is to always get the vet en route. I would always rather pay the fees of having the vet come out and literally just had to check we have done everything right, then leave things too late.

Once the vet was on her way, we set about doing what we could. By this point Chamonix was understandably getting quite tired. A female who really doesn’t enjoy being handled couldn’t care less what I was doing with her back end. Anyone who has a strong-willed alpaca knows that the moment they start acting relatively indifferent, that you really do need to be concerned.

After what felt like hours of gently doing little movements to try and move the cria around, working between contractions, we finally got him in as good as a position as we could. At this point, we decided to literally step back out of the pen and give her space to do what she could on her own. We had reached our limits of what we could do and the vet would be here shortly to take over if anymore intervention was necessary.

To say I felt emotional when we had the amniotic sac appear is an understatement. At this point I wasn’t at all confident that this would be a complete success story, we were sure we would have a long night ahead of us trying to get this cria up and going, but I had everything ready to deal with that eventuality (including a pizza delivery on it’s way!).

To our sheer delight he appeared and like all of Chamonix’s previous cria, he was thrashing about on the ground full of life and already trying to be an over achiever. He hit all of his mile stones comfortably, cushing, standing, ‘walking’ and feeding in brilliant time. He even got in a little run around between his first few feeds! I am not sure me or Shaun said a word to each other whilst we watched him, a mixture of still feeling a bit traumatised but relieved!

The only lasting memory of him being a ‘squashed’ cria is that he is definitely a smidge wonky! He is straightening daily, but we strongly suspect Mr Squashed had been in a pickle for a while. Luckily, we seem to have healthy cria and a healthy dam, and we really do feel like we had luck on our side. Chamonix gave me a loving kick this morning for accidentally brushing against her whilst she was eating earlier, so I am confident she is back to her normal self as well.

I have explained to the rest of our ladies in waiting that we have had a drama, we have had the moment that makes us question our lifestyle choice, and that there is NO need for anyone else to have any problems. I am not quite sure they understood it, but they all gathered round and were all listening very intently (or looking at the feed bucket in my hand…).”