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The First Fifteen

What changes occur after a cria is born? Alpaca World magazine first published this article in Autumn 2004 by P. Walter Bravo and it is just as interesting now as it was then.

The excitement of waiting for a new baby is over when a pregnant dam gives birth to a small baby that in alpaca terms is called “cria”. This Spanish term, meaning creation, has been accepted all over the world in the scientific and layman literature, hence is used in this article. As previously stated, see article on Timely Reminder, The prepartum alpaca: some considerations (Alpaca World issue 10: p32-33) a cria alpaca is born after 11.5 months of gestation.

Most of the time a cria is born during the morning hours of the day, when temperature is viable and conducive for its survival; however, there are some instances in which crias are born during the afternoons and evenings. In fact, 80% of crias are born between 8 a.m. and 12 noon, and 91% between 7 a.m. and 12 noon. This short article deals with the normal presentation of the cria at birth, some physiologic changes in the cria immediately after birth, cria behaviour during the first week of life, concentration of antibodies in colostrum and milk production by the dam.

PRESENTATION

The normal presentation of the cria at birth is with its head and forelegs extended; technically it is called anterior longitudinal presentation, in a dorso-sacral position with the head resting on the metacarpal bones of the extended forelegs. Any deviation to this position may require human assistance by the owner or a veterinarian. A word of caution though, some owners are well qualified to correct abnormal presentations, but a professional handling of a slow birthing is better. There are many seminars teaching how to correct mal-positioning of the crias at birth, but if you are not sure or/and you do not feel confident, it is better to call your veterinarian.

Instances of rushing and pulling the cria without considering the anatomy of the reproductive organs of the parturient dam have ended in tears at the uterine cervix, opening of a cut of the rectum and vagina (recto-vaginal fistula), and tears in the vaginal wall as well as prolonged haemorrhage from an extremely manipulated uterus. These lesions may affect the fertility postpartum of the female. In the author’s experience, the hanging down of the cria head allows it to eliminate any liquid present in the mouth, nose and upper respiratory airways. An extremely rushed pulling of the cria by the front legs and head has ended in accumulation of liquid in the airways and consequently pneumonia in the lungs.

An extremely rushed pulling of the cria by the front legs and head has ended in accumulation of liquid in the airways and consequently pneumonia in the lungs.

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