A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 27, 2008

Concern for Queen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:17 am

Late term pregnancy dams are always on my watch list, I want to keep close tabs on them to make sure that they are acting normally and not showing any changes in behavior that might indicate there is a problem with the pregnancy or the health of the dam.  I also like to watch for movement of the cria, which reassures me that the little one is alive (and usually kicking).

Our alpaca Queen is nine years old and an experienced dam.  She has not had any problems with her previous crias and is one of those great female alpacas who breeds one time, knows she is pregnant and makes it clear to you that she doesn’t need the services of a male again until after her cria is born.  With Queen once she is bred you will not even get her anywhere close to a male, as soon as she sees him she plants her feet in the ground and refuses to move closer to him. 

Queen is a short bodied alpaca and so her pregnancies show very easily.  Currently she has a huge bump and an active cria inside her.  I remember last year when she was expecting Velvet she was also huge and a few days before giving birth amazed me by jumping over one of the trough feeders.

At the weekend I noticed that Queen was sitting around a lot, sometimes with the herd and sometimes on her own.  Of course heavily pregnant dams do tend to sit around more than those that are not pregnant, but there was something about Queen’s behavior that caught my attention.

During our Open Farm Day I had to break away from our visitors when I noticed Queen stand up and hold her tail in an odd position.  I checked to make sure that she didn’t have a cria making it’s appearance under her tail but all looked good.

I call Queen’s tail the semaphore tail as toward the end of her pregnancy she carries it in some very strange positions.  I am sure there must be a meaning to each tail position but have not figured it out yet, and Queen does look quite odd at times with her tail in such positions.  Apparently the semaphore tail is a hereditary trait as Queen’s daughter TeQueely, who is expecting her first cria, has started the same sort of behavior with her tail.  Now there are two of them to drive me crazy with their odd tail positions!

While Queen seemed to be okay after Open Farm Day we have kept a close eye on her.  Her due date is not until May 19th so she still has a little way to go before her cria is due. 

On Monday Queen did not come in for her evening “extras”.  She usually gets a few extra pellets in the evening due to her age and her stage of pregnancy.  Queen did come over to the pens but did not go in to eat her pellets, which for her is unusual.  Later that evening Ric noticed Queen sitting on her own, we went out and checked her and she seemed okay and by the next morning she was back to eating as normal.

Yesterday Queen again gave us cause for concern.  She was sitting a lot and just looked a little uncomfortable.  I watched her from the house and noticed that she went over to the poop pile but did not pass any poop.  This concerned me and so I went out to check on Queen and discovered that she was grunting every time she took a breath.  She was cushed by the time I got to her and was obviously a little uncomfortable.  It was time for us to take some action.

We enticed Queen into a pen with some hay (not an easy job as she is one shrewd alpaca and knows when we are trying to catch her.)  Once in the pen I took Queen’s temperature, which thankfully was normal.  I tried to listen to her lungs with my stethoscope but the wind was back to blowing hard making it difficult to hear anything.  I did a digital exam of Queen and discovered beans in her rectal tract not far from the rectal opening so all seemed well there, but as a precaution we gave Queen some MSE drench (a great probiotic drench with added enzymes).  To ease Queen’s discomfort I gave her 1.5 cc of banamine, pain management is important in alpacas and the banamine would help Queen relax, it would also help stop any contractions that might have started.  I also treated Queen with my photonic red light on both her standard points and those that affect the lungs and respiration (photonic red light treatment is based on acupressure points).

Apart from her slight discomfort and grunting Queen looked good.  Her eyes were bright and alert and she was certainly ready to get away from us.  As I examined Queen I could feel her cria moving, just from feeling the crias legs under my hand it felt big and that may be why Queen was so uncomfortable.

We kept a close eye on Queen for the rest of the day.  Her grunting stopped after about an hour, by the evening feeding time she was in her pen waiting for food and then had a good feed on the hay too.

Fingers crossed what we saw with Queen yesterday was just a case of late pregnancy discomfort.  When Queen cushes it looks as if her cria is about to pop out at any minute so I am sure a cria that big could be pushing on Queen’s organs and making it’s presence felt.

We will be keeping an even closer eye on Queen for the next few days and if she shows other signs of discomfort I think a visit from the vet will be in order.  As the old adage goes it’s better to be safe than sorry and I would rather have the vet out to tell me all is well than wait and have a major problem in a few days time.



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