We have an interesting situation with an adult female alpaca who is boarded with us.
“Theresa” was supposed to be pregnant. She bred and has been spitting off at any male alpaca that came near her. She had an increased appetite and generally behaved like a pregnant female alpaca does, except that she went well past her due date with no sign of impending birth. Theresa had carried a previous pregnancy over a year and so her being past her due date was not unusual to her.
When we sheared Theresa we became pretty certain that she was not pregnant. Without her fleece she didn’t look at all pregnant, and so we made an appointment with the vet to see if we could confirm our suspicions. Our vet first palpated Theresa’s abdomen and said he was pretty certain that she was not pregnant, but just to be on the safe side he decided to do a trans abdominal ultrasound (Theresa having been sheared helped with that process). The ultrasound showed that Theresa was not pregnant.
We believe Theresa has got what is known as a Retained Corpus Luteum (Retained CL). A previous blog post on March 15, 2007 discussed Retained CL’s. A very basic explanation of a Retained CL is that the ovarian follicle has failed to regress and progesterone is being produced, making the female alpaca behave as if she is pregnant.
Having decided that Theresa did have a Retained CL we discussed with the vet our options for rectifying the situation. He recommended treating her with Estrumate, which would hopefully help the CL to release, and so we brought Theresa home and started the Estrumate treatment.
(Note: The use of Estrumate is something that needs to be done only in consultation with your veterinarian and for that reason I am not going to discuss the dosages we used in this post. If you feel that you have an alpaca that has a Retained CL, do consult you veterinarian and get his or her guidance. Estrumate is quite powerful and needs to be handled carefully and used with caution.)
Having started Theresa’s Estrumate treatment we were hoping to see a change in her behavior, and by day two we did, but not the change we had hoped to see. For on the second day of her treatment Theresa stole another alpaca’s cria.
Ivanna had delivered her cria a few days before Theresa started treatment. Ivanna’s cria is a lovely little fawn female cria and quite outgoing. She wanders around the adult female alpacas clucking at them and nuzzling them and it appears that when she did that to Theresa that Theresa took it that this little fawn cria was hers.
That evening when we went to do our pasture checks there was Theresa sitting quite contentedly with Ivanna’s cria by her side. Theresa was humming to her, clucking at her and even stood up and pushed the cria under her to nurse. We took Ivanna’s cria back to her, but during a later pasture check found Ivanna’s cria back with Theresa again. As charming as that might seem it is not a good situation as Theresa does not have milk, and Ivanna was meanwhile wondering where her baby was.
So we have had to separate Theresa from Ivanna and her cria. Fortunately we are weaning some of the young alpacas and so Theresa is now keeping the weanlings company while Ivanna has her cria back. Theresa is not happy with the situation and has been looking for Ivanna’s cria, but we really do need to make sure that Ivanna’s cria stays with Ivanna.
We did test Theresa with a male alpaca yesterday and she still was unreceptive. It may be that the Retained CL is a persistent Retained CL, but from Theresa’s behavior towards Ivanna’s cria I suspect she is going through some form of hormonal change and hopefully that is an indication that the Retained CL has gone, but I cannot say that for certain and so I will be talking to our vet later today to discuss Theresa’s situation.