A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 15, 2009

What to give an alpaca that has the hiccups!

She’s at it again; one of our breeding dams Clarissa has started with the hiccups.

I have written about Clarissa’s hiccups in a previous blog entry.
On previous occasions Clarissa’s hiccups seemed to be tied in to a certain stage of her pregnancy, but this time she is not pregnant.

It’s difficult to know what to give an alpaca with the hiccups. One of our favorite and most effective human remedies is to drink a teaspoon or two of vinegar, but I am not sure that would go over well with Clarissa. For ourselves we have also tried drinking water out of the wrong side of a cup – imagine getting an alpaca to do that, I don’t think that will happen. Then there is always the old scare tactic, but I somehow don’t think it would be fair to sneak up on Clarissa and yell “Boo” or something else as startling.
Clarissa’s hiccups do not seem to bother her too much; she has eaten hay without a problem, drinks without a problem and allows her cria Tonka (aka Little Man) to nurse, all the while hiccupping as he nurses (does that create an alpaca milk shake?). Eating pellets was a little more challenging for Clarissa with her hiccups and we have found that she does better if her food is soaked and softer making it a little easier to swallow.

Clarissa’s hiccups do not seem to bother her too much; she has eaten hay without a problem, drinks without a problem and allows her cria Tonka (aka Little Man) to nurse, all the while hiccupping as he nurses (does that create an alpaca milk shake?). Eating pellets was a little more challenging for Clarissa with her hiccups and we have found that she does better if her food is soaked and softer making it a little easier to swallow.

For now all we have been able to do is give Clarissa some Rescue Remedy to keep her relaxed and keep a watchful eye on her. Hopefully by tomorrow the hiccups will be gone and life will be back to normal for Clarissa. In the meantime if anyone has any suggestions as to how to relieve an alpaca of hiccups then please let us know, Clarissa will thank you for it I’m sure!

Rosemary

August 19, 2008

Ow Baby, That Hurts!

Clarissa, one of our alpaca dams is due to have her cria in the fall.  We have started to see the cria moving frequently and it seems to be an active little thing.

On Friday evening when I was doing chores I noticed that Clarissa was not getting up.  Instead of coming over to check out the hay wagon she stayed cushed in front of the shelter.  That is not normal behavior for Clarissa who is usually up and milling around with the others trying to get the first bite of the hay.

I went over to check on Clarissa and discovered why she was not getting up; her cria was kicking heavily, drumming out its own dance on Clarissa’s side.  Poor Clarissa, no wonder she was not getting up!  I left Clarissa alone, knowing that in a while, once the cria had settled down, she would get up and join the other girls at the hayracks.

Clarissa did get up and was soon eating as normal.

During our Saturday morning feeding Clarissa again had a problem, she choked on her feed while eating.  A choking alpaca can be a serious situation, and is something that should not be left unattended.  Sometimes the attention needed is just some close observation, other times more intervention is needed.  One important thing to remember though is to try and keep the choking alpaca calm.  If the alpaca is calm it will be easier for him or her to relax allowing the blockage to clear the throat.  If the alpaca is stressed the muscles around the throat will tense and make it more difficult for the blockage to move.

Fortunately our feed is designed to dissolve should it become stuck in an alpaca’s throat.  It’s not a pretty sight, as the alpaca will regurgitate a green foamy mess as it clears the blockage, but better that than a choking alpaca.

We kept Clarissa under observation during the day and she seemed to improve and eventually joined the other alpacas eating hay.  In the evening though she started to cough and choke again.

By this time I was becoming concerned about Clarissa and wondering what effect all of this choking and coughing might have on her cria.  She seemed to be moving the blockage but was obviously still not feeling herself.  I gave her a large dose of Bach’s Rescue Remedy, which did seem to help her relax a little, but by the early hours of Sunday morning Clarissa was still having intermittent choking spasms.  By this time she didn’t appear to actually have anything blocking her throat, rather her throat was now irritated and possibly sore.

We decided to give Clarissa some Banamine to help her relax further and to maybe take away the soreness and irritation to her throat.  About 30 minutes after having the Banamine Clarissa seemed a lot better and we decided it was okay for us to call it a night.

 

A bad choke can cause irritation to the throat, and once you get irritation there it can lead to further choking as food comes in contact with the irritated area.  We didn’t want Clarissa to have another day of choking and so on Sunday morning we soaked her feed along with some beet pulp shreds and once everything was nice and soft we fed the mixture to Clarissa in a pen by herself.  We wanted to make sure Clarissa got all of the feed she wanted and make sure Clarissa could eat in peace without being challenged over her food by her usual pen mates.  Clarissa ate well with no further choking episodes, but just to be on the safe side I left her penned up for a while with a bucket of hay so she could continue to eat in peace.  Clarissa also got a dose of the MSE drench to help her digestive system to continue to function normally.

Once Clarissa had a good feed I allowed her out of the pen to rejoin the rest of the herd eating hay.  For the rest of the day Clarissa did well, she was a little less active than normal and I went out to check on her frequently only to discover she now had hiccups!  Poor Clarissa, what a time she was having.

This is not the first time Clarissa has had hiccups, and her previous bouts of hiccups have been at the same stage of pregnancy.  One time she had hiccups for three days in a row, which seemed to concern us more than her.  This makes me wonder if there is a connection with her stage of pregnancy and her choking and hiccupping.  Perhaps her cria is pushing on something and having an effect on Clarissa’s ability to breath normally and pass food into her stomach compartments.

Another large dose of Rescue Remedy seemed to do the trick for Clarissa’s hiccups and by the evening feed she was pretty much back to her usual self.  We will continue to soak her feed and feed her separately for the next week or so, we don’t want to risk another irritation to her system.  We will also hope that Clarissa’s cria will settle down for a while and stop doing whatever he or she is doing to cause Clarissa such discomfort.  I’m betting that cria will be quite the character when it is born and from the way it was kicking the other night quite the runner too!

Rosemary

January 27, 2008

Their First Night Alone

Last night was the night, the first time the weanlings have been away from their dams overnight.  The weather is forecast to be mild over the next few days and even the night time temperatures will be above freezing and so it was a good time to make the final break.  Often newly weaned cria will sit out by the fence line all night and that is not the best place for them to be if the weather is very cold.

The weanlings were not too concerned at first last night.  I fed them and put out extra hay for them and while they came to the gate a couple of times to see if it was open, they soon settled down to eating hay followed by a chase session around the pasture.  As time went on though the realization set in that they were not going to back to the main herd for the night.

Shiimsa of course is already weaned, and we hope that her lack of concern at being in the weanling pasture overnight will help the three weanlings feel less stressed about the event. 

During the course of the evening I checked on the weanlings, Athena and Shiimsa were in their barn eating hay, Velvet and Blast were setting together by the fence line.  Some of the main herd were sitting by their fence line where the weanlings could seem them, and if truth be known the weanlings are physically no further away from their dams than I have seen them on several other occasions.  The only difference is there are two fences on either side of the 10 foot gap between them.

When I checked on the weanlings Velvet and Blast ran up to see me, and Blast did a fair amount of “talking” telling me he wanted to go back to the main pasture.  Velvet too had some curious hums to pass onto me.

Today we will give the weanlings some more probiotic.  They are sure to be suffering with a little stress, which is not good for them or the health of their rumen.  The probiotics will help keep their rumens healthy and also contain B vitamins that have calming properties.  I might even put some Bach’s Rescue Remedy in the weanling’s water to help calm their nerves.

In a day or so the weanlings will have settled in to their new pasture and will be adapting to spending their nights together.  They will remain there until the show and then will return to that pasture for quarantine following the show.  By the time that process is all through we should be able to return Velvet, Athena and Shiimsa to the girls pasture.  Little Blast though is another matter – I may have to borrow an alpaca buddy of the same age as him to keep him company for a while until he is big enough to join the junior male herd.

And what about the dams during this final weaning process?  Well not one of them has been looking for her cria, a sure sign they were ready for the weaning process to happen.  Sorry to tell you this kids but Mom says it’s time to move out and set up home on your own!

Rosemary

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