A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 11, 2007

A Cold Rain and A Wet Cria

Yesterday was wet all day, much needed rain fell steadily and we were fortunate that the predicted cold air did not make it down to us, thus avoiding an ice storm.

The alpacas are not usually too bothered by the rain.  If it is a heavy pounding rain they will seek shelter but if the rain is just a gentle soft rain they will often stay out in it.  Some of the time they will cush out in the pasture, and once they get comfortable they don’t want to move, unless of course they see hay or feed being brought in and then they are up straight away.

As I started chores yesterday morning I noticed there was some liquid diarrhea at one of the poop piles.  I was pretty certain that it was one of the crias and sure enough as I fed the girls I realized that little Kanika was under the weather.  She wasn’t eating as she normally does and seemed lethargic and droopy.  As I watched her I realized that she was also shivering which was not a good sign.

Kanika was pretty wet having apparently been out in the rain for part of the night.   I took her temperature, which was 100.9, not too unusual for a cria as their temperatures can run from 101 – 102.5.  I knew I needed to get her where she could be warm and dry and that I also needed to figure out a plan to treat her diarrhea.

Often with crias if the diarrhea is not too severe and they are not running a temperature I will just give them probiotics for the first 24 hours to see if that alone will cause an improvement.  As crias like to explore and often nibble everything they come across they are at risk of picking up unfriendly bacteria, often a good probiotic will be sufficient treatment.  With Kanika though her diarrhea was very watery and her shivering and lethargy were concerning to me.

First I gave her 5cc of MSE drench as a probiotic treatment and then I gave her an antibiotic called Tucoprim (SMZ – TMZ), I also gave her a photonic red light treatment.  Kanika was not too thrilled about my giving her the probiotic or the antibiotic, even though I did mix the antibiotic with some applesauce.

Having given Kanika her medicine now the challenge was to get her dry and warm.  An alpaca fleece that is soaked to the skin takes a long while to dry and sometimes in an effort to dry the fleece you can end up pushing the moisture further into the fleece.  A cria coat can help to keep a cria dry and warm, but if the cria is already wet and you put a cria coat on it you can actually cause the cria to become chilled.

Fortunately Kanika’s fleece appeared to be wet only on the outside ½” or so.  I moved Kanika and Chai into the small shelter in the girls pasture so that Kanika did not get any wetter.  I then got a one of those super chamois cloths (you know the ones you see on TV infomercials that are advertised as being able to soak up huge amounts of water) and draped it over Kanika’s back and patted it lightly to soak up some of the moisture from her fleece.  I then strapped a cria coat over the top of the chamois cloth and put a nice bucket of hay in the shelter to keep Chai occupied and in the shelter so that Kanika would stay with her.

I went out about an hour later and found Kanika and Chai both cushed in the shelter.  I took off the cria coat and the chamois.  Amazingly the chamois cloth had soaked up most of the moisture from Kanika’s fleece.  I put a clean dry cria coat back on Kanika and left her in the shelter with Chai.

I kept a close eye on Kanika for the rest of the day, she was still a little shivery to begin with but by the evening she was no longer shivering and her diarrhea was improved.  She was even ready to join in with the nightly cria dash around the pasture

Our forecast for the next few days is for continued precipitation (either rain or snow) and cold, so Kanika will be wearing her cria coat again at least for the next few days.  She will also be on a course of antibiotics for five days to make sure that whatever it was she had is completely gone from her system – and I had better check my collection of super chamois cloths to make sure I have enough to dry off any other wet crias who need it!


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