A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 11, 2008

What A Week That Was

Carina's Cria

Carina's Cria


First I would like to say a big thank you to all who emailed kind words or posted them to the blog following Beeper’s passing.  It means a lot to us to know there are so many caring people in the world.  Cinnamon has settled down, but still looks for her cria every now and then; only time can help her now.


I usually take a break from writing the blog a couple of times a week, but when you see a break for several days it’s a sign that something else is demanding my attention and that was the case this week.


Following Beepers death on Monday, we had happier news on Tuesday when Carina went into labor – a cria was about to make its entrance into the world, and what an entrance she made.


As we watched Carina in labor we started to get the feeling that all was not right with the delivery.  Carina had managed to deliver the crias head but after waiting a short while there was no sign of the crias feet.  I examined Carina and discovered that the cria had its front legs folded as if it was cushed.  There was no way that cria was coming out without some help.  I tried to get one leg free but could not get the cria back far enough to give me room to maneuver the leg, so we decided that it was time to call the vet.


Fortunately our vet was out headed to an appointment in Portales, which is South of us.  While he was able to get to us quickly it seemed like an eternity, during which time we tried to distract Carina to stop her from continuing to push.  Alpaca pellets, hay and soaked beet shreds were all employed but each would only distract her for a few seconds.  Carina’s body was telling her to push.


When our vet arrived he immediately went to work and was able to free the crias leg and deliver the cria.  By this time Ric was completely convinced that the cria was a boy, as the cria was large, but when we took a closer look we discovered that the cria was a girl.


When we had been deciding who to breed Carina to last year, Ric had pointed out that we didn’t own any daughters from our herdsire Enchantment’s Prince Regent.  Regent’s daughters have all been sold or born to other alpaca owners.  Ric said he thought we should have at least one Regent daughter in our herd and so Carina was bred to Regent in the hopes that their breeding would result in a girl.  I don’t know what Ric said to Regent to make that happen but it worked for we did get a girl.


Following the birthing Carina was obviously sore and tired and initially the cria seemed vigorous, but as the day went on we realized that she too had soreness.  The crias neck was bent and we could feel a couple of the neck bones protruding – she needed a chiropractor!  When the cria tried to stand on her legs she was uncomfortable and her right shoulder turned in at an odd angle.  Poor thing must have been really squashed on her journey into the world.  The cria was also two weeks early, but was a healthy 17 lbs. and apart from her joint discomfort she seemed fully developed.


With such a sore dam and a sore cria we knew we would need to work to keep them both comfortable and to help the cria nurse.  Carina was put on arnica to help with the bruising and was also given some banamine to ease her pain.  We were reluctant to give the cria banamine until she at least had nursed some colostrum.  As long as the cria was cushed she seemed comfortable and so we put her on blanket to cushion her from the ground.


To get the cria to nurse we were able to put her in a cushed position on my knees and then raise her up until she could reach Carina’s udder.  The cria nursed heartily and so began a regimen of helping the cria nurse every hour by putting her on my knees and supporting her.  We also massaged the crias neck and shoulders, which she really enjoyed, particularly between her shoulder blades.  It was good to feel her muscles start to relax as we worked them and to see her doze off while being massaged.


Unfortunately Ric had to leave town the day after the cria was born and so my days and nights have been spent working to help the cria nurse and of course doing the routine chores.  It’s not the first time I have had to work such long days and nights and probably won’t be the last, but the reward for all of those hours of work is looking out in the pasture early Wednesday morning and seeing our new little girl taking some shaky steps followed by a little buck and a kick – progress!


I am happy to report that as of Friday the cria is now able to stand on her own to nurse, trots along beside Carina and still enjoys her massages.  The cria is still not quite up to joining Sleeper and Dutchesses cria in cria races, but she gets more active every day and will no doubt soon be joining in the fun.  Her neck is straightening out and her shoulder joint has returned to a normal position.  Carina too is a lot more comfortable now and has been able to come off the banamine and arnica, but we will be waiting until the spring to breed her back.  After such a traumatic birth some extra recuperation time will not do her any harm.


And as for me, on Friday night I was able to have my first full night of sleep since Beeper was taken ill, and I can assure you I had no trouble sleeping!



October 7, 2008

A Sad Start To The Week

Our Dear Beeper

Our Dear Beeper

Sadly on Monday morning Cinnamon’s cria Beeper died.  We became aware that Beeper was not well when I did my last late night check on the pregnant girls on Saturday evening.  As I checked that all of the girls were okay I notice that Beeper was trying to poop but nothing was passing.  I watched him for a while, the poor little guy was pushing really hard but nothing was coming out.


I went into the house and got Ric to help me give Beeper an enema.  Crias do sometimes get constipated, especially if their dams have rich milk as Cinnamon does, but generally I do not like to give crias enemas unless it is essential, and in Beepers case it was.  The enema did not seem to help and so we gave him another one, he passed a little watery poop but was obviously still uncomfortable.


All through the night I checked on Beeper, initially every 20 minutes and then every hour once he seemed to settle down for the night.  I gave him a dose of Rescue Remedy to help him relax and it did seem to bring him some relief.


Sunday morning we tried to call our vet only to discover he was out of town, so we called a different veterinary clinic and talked to the vet on call there.  That vet advised us that the best thing we could do was continue with the enema’s and also give Beeper some Karo syrup which would help draw fluid into his digestive tract.  The vet advised us to keep Beeper hydrated, but said to hold off using any Banamine if possible as he was worried that it might affect Beeper’s kidneys. 


All through Sunday we kept up the regimine the vet prescribed and did manage to get Beeper to pass a little poop so we were optimistic that things were going in the right direction, but by Sunday evening Beeper was becoming bloated and was in pain.  He would strain so hard that he would fall over in the process.  We gave Beeper some Banamine and it did help ease his pain, we spent another sleepless night checking on the little guy.


Monday morning we called our vet as soon as we got up and arranged to take Beeper to the clinic.  There our vet was able to withdraw some poop from Beeper, but said that he could feel a clump of it higher in the bowel.  To try and move the clump of poop Beeper received more enemas and also was tubed with a solution of mineral oil and Epsom Salts.  Poor Beeper was really stressed about the tubing, and it was hard to watch him gasping and stressed, he just could not get comfortable.  Our vet gave him some Banamine and some Dexamethasone.   While we were waiting for Beeper to pass something our vet explained to me that the area where the problem was is not a good area for surgery, it has a unique system of blood vessels and typically surgery in that area ends up in a bad result.  The only option was the tubing and enemas.  Beeper did strain a couple of times, but just a tiny bit of liquid poop came out.


As I watched Beeper I noticed that he was starting to get blue around his lips and nose, he had been getting up and down quite a bit and seemed to be finding it harder to get up.  As Beeper tried to stand up I went to lift him and he went limp, at that point we knew that Beeper was not going to make it and he passed away a minute or two later.


Although we had an idea of what Beeper’s problem was I asked the vet if he could do a necropsy to see if it would provide us with any clues as to why Beeper became so plugged up.


The necropsy revealed that Beepers intestine had ruptured, but the puzzling thing was that while there was some poop in his bowels it was not a huge amount and our vet felt that the enemas and tubing should have been able to move it.  The vet checked Beeper’s stomach and it was not overfull with fluid, so it doesn’t appear that the tubing caused any problem.  There was one thing that was significant though, Beepers bladder was huge.  It didn’t seem to be just filled with fluid but seemed to contain quite a bit of air too, it was about the size of a large mango, which in comparison to Beeper is way larger than it should have been.  Our vet checked for other obstructions in the bladder or surrounding area but found none.  We had seem Beeper urinate earlier that morning so it did not make sense that his bladder was so large.


Unfortunately this is one of those cases where there isn’t really a good explanation as to what happened to cause Beeper’s problem.  It could be that Cinnamon’s rich milk made Beeper’s poop hard to pass, but if that were the case surely the enema’s would have helped.  The place where the bowel ruptured was adjacent to the bladder and I have to wonder if Beeper’s real problem was with his bladder.  As his bladder became enlarged it pressed against the bowel preventing the poop from getting through.


Cinnamon was in the trailer with us the whole time the vet was working on Beeper.  As Cinnamon tends to be highly strung we had given her some Rescue Remedy before we left the house and had also put Velvet in the trailer as a companion for Cinnamon.  Velvet is very calm and did seem to help Cinnamon remain calm while Beeper was treated.


We all miss poor little Beeper, he was quite a character and was such a strong little thing, but the one who misses Beeper most is Cinnamon.  She has been sitting in the pasture crying for her baby.  Whenever Cinnamon sees Ric or myself she runs to the fence crying looking to see if we have Beeper.  Our vet had his technician remove Beeper from the trailer so that Cinnamon would not think I had taken him, but still she runs to Ric and I in the hopes that we will bring Beeper back.  Cinnamon has also checked out Keeva’s cria Sleeper and Dutchess’s cria to make sure they are not Beeper.   So our concern now is for Cinnamon, we don’t want her to become ill from the stress of losing her cria.  We have put her on some MSE drench for the next few days and will also give her more Rescue Remedy throughout each day to help her with her grieving.


You can never get used to losing a cria or watching a grieving dam, it’s a hard experience but one that you risk having if you are in the alpaca business.  You always hope it won’t happen but once in a while it does.  We’ll miss you Beeper, with your funny little hum and your larger than life personality – we’ll definitely miss you.



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