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 Alpaca Healthcare and Nutrition (Archive)
 Not weaning, too thin, getting ready to breed
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Winsome Ridge

53 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2004 :  3:48:37 PM  Show Profile
Alright. Have a mom with an almost seven month cria at side. She's still nursing heavily, and getting too thin. On the advice of a more experienced breeder, I'm supplementing her pellets with 1 1/2 lb of cracked corn.

She's still not looking good. I'm considering force weaning when I take her off to get bred, but understand that will be stressful and potentially affect her ability to get pregnant.

Two questions:
1) I've seen a couple people talk about supplementing with equine senior for thinness- also heard concerns of choke because of the beet pulp in it. Thoughts?

2) Should I put off breeding until I can fatten her up? Or send her off to breed and force wean?

Freddi

864 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2004 :  5:03:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit Freddi's Homepage
Has your female had a fecal test for parasites? That could be responsible for weight loss if the thinness isn't due to nursing.

I weaned my 7 month old by putting him away from his dam during the day and back with her at night for two weeks. Then I took him away 24/7. I had to keep an eye and hand on her udder as she is a heavy milker (I had no where to put the cria where she couldn't see him & I think she kept making milk because of this) after 3 days her udder began to get very firm. We had to milk her out and after a few days, the firmness went soft again.

I was told to cut back drastically on the grain to help reduce the milk production. In the two weeks since I've been doing this, her udder has softened and seems to be normalizing.

When you say your females is getting too thin, what are you basing this on? Her body score? Her weight?

I haven't heard that "force" weaning can affect the ability to conceive. I'd be interested in knowing more about that.

It might be a good idea to remove her cria (out of sight if possible), check her udder daily to see if she needs to be milked out, once her udder has gone down, increase her grain. I don't use cracked corn, myself.

Perhaps a small amount of alfafa would also help put weight on her.

When one of my females had lost weight she was fed Omolene 300 (which I still include in her diet) and she put weight on rapidly with it, and she also liked it.

Dr. Evans suggests extra weight for nursing and for conceiving, so I would say yes to waiting to breed her. Have you discussed this with your vet?

I'd start with your vet first. Good luck!

Freddi Dunleavey
Alpacas of Dun-Dor Woods
101 Kelly Road
Arkville, NY 12406
845-254-4602
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Judith

4020 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2004 :  7:17:22 PM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message
If your gal is 7 months post-partum and still hasn't been bred, I wonder whether this may be delaying her natural instinct to self-wean. Since most females are rebred shortly after birth, I would guess (although I certainly don't know for sure -- I'd love to hear from someone who's studied this) that maybe the hormones that trigger certain events in the natural life of a breeding female alpaca play a role in determining the timing of weaning.

What's the condition of the cria in this instance? Does he/she still need to nurse to maintain weight and condition? If so, then I'd certainly have an exam done on both dam and cria to see what's holding up normal growth and development with the cria. I think Freddi is on to something when she suggested checking for parasites. They can have a dramatic effect on the condition of your animals.

If the cria doesn't need the additional nutrition being provided by the dam (i.e., it's eating hay/grass, grain and minerals as needed), then "forced" weaning is certainly in order. I would not do this just prior to sending a female out for breeding, however. It is a stressful event for both dam and cria, and breeding is stressful enough. Add that to sending her away from her customary surroundings, the travel, etc., and you could have one truly stressed lady on your hands. The stress could delay her ability to breed, and could also compromise her immune system, especially if she's already scoring low weight-wise. While the weaning itself won't impede breeding, the stress could. Give her time to recover her weight and condition before sending her out (or even before having a "traveling stud" in). She needs to be in top form for breeding.

Judith Korff
LadySong Farm, Inc.
2723 Bunker Hill Rd.
Steamburg, NY 14783
(800) 207-9475
A Holistic Management Farm
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Freddi

864 Posts

Posted - 04/29/2004 :  07:15:07 AM  Show Profile  Visit Freddi's Homepage
Sorry, I missed the point that your female is not bred at this point...I thought it was pregnant and you were concerned about the next breeding.

Please let us know how you make out.

Freddi Dunleavey
Alpacas of Dun-Dor Woods
101 Kelly Road
Arkville, NY 12406
845-254-4602
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Cheryl

233 Posts

Posted - 04/29/2004 :  09:54:43 AM  Show Profile  Visit Cheryl's Homepage
Glad someone posted this question as we're facing a similar issue.

We did breed our female back after birth last fall because she appeared healthy, but she lost the pregnancy during the winter, shortly after she started losing weight. Parasites aren't a problem, and adding additional grain and cracked corn to her diet didn't help. So, we recently separated the cria, who's growing well, and we've delayed re-breeding for this female until she regains some weight. There's no way we want the added stresses of trying to sustain a pregnancy when she's so painfully thin. (She's a first-time mom, so I hope this won't be a yearly problem.)

In the meantime, we're not sure what else to try to help her gain weight in the event that weaning alone isn't enough. Freddi, what's Omolene 300 & where would I find it? Maybe we should try it....

Other suggestions, anyone?
Thanks,
Cheryl

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Freddi

864 Posts

Posted - 04/29/2004 :  10:37:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit Freddi's Homepage
Have you tested your hay and water?

Omolene 300 is a sweet horse feed that I get at my local non-chain pet supply/feed store.

Freddi Dunleavey
Alpacas of Dun-Dor Woods
101 Kelly Road
Arkville, NY 12406
845-254-4602
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Judith

4020 Posts

Posted - 04/29/2004 :  10:50:40 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message
Cheryl, I'd suggest you have your vet do a CBC and complete blood workup to find out what's happening. It's not uncommon for females to absorb, especially if the winter was particularly difficult, but happening in conjunction with weight loss, there might be something else going on that should be diagnosed. There may be some underlying disease involved, or a nutritional factor that can be addressed.

Good luck; keep us posted.

Judith Korff
LadySong Farm, Inc.
2723 Bunker Hill Rd.
Steamburg, NY 14783
(800) 207-9475
A Holistic Management Farm
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KT

628 Posts

Posted - 05/01/2004 :  07:57:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit KT's Homepage
Regarding the beet pulp part of your post... I give my pregnant moms and any other stressed animals a supplement with beet pulp, sweet goat feed and soy meal (2:1:1/2 ratio). I haven't notied any problems w/ choke at all and they love it. Good luck!

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xr6004

241 Posts

Posted - 05/05/2004 :  06:23:12 AM  Show Profile
As usual, there could be several issues in combination attributing to the weight loss. During this time of year, the new grass does not contain enough good nutrients yet it is very palatable and the hay that was cut last summer has lost some of its nutritional value. I would try supplementing with some (maybe 2 cups/day) alfalfa. Remember Dr. Evans 80/20 rule for supplementing with feed. 80% hay, 20% supplemental feed. If the alpaca weighs 150#’s and you are feeding at a rate of 1% body weight per day, food intake would equal 1.5#’s. This will equate to 1.2#’s of hay and .3#’s of feed per day. Some alpacas require a higher daily intake to maintain and may need to consume up to 2% of body weight per day. Checking for worms and a blood panel is in order for your girl.

We have always weaned “cold turkey” and have never had any problems with the moms or crias adjusting. At some point just like all mammals, milk begins to thin and the baby gets little or no benefit from nursing. This can be noted with lower weight gain as the cria gets older. This seems to occur around 6-7 months of age and some where in the 60-70 # range.

Many people swear by beet pulp. You must mix the pulp with lots of water to prevent choking on any unmixed pulp. I have not used it, but I have recently purchased some and will try it soon. I currently use equine sr. with good success. You can check the expansion factor of any pellet feed by placing a few pellets in some water and seeing if it expands. The equine sr. that I use simply dissolves in water and does not expand at all.

Nutrition can definitely play a part in conceiving. If mom is under nourished, conception and maintaining a pregnancy can be difficult. Our experienced camelid vet has experience with some llamas that only conceive every other year. It could be possible that this may occur in alpacas.

David


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Cheryl

233 Posts

Posted - 05/06/2004 :  07:57:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit Cheryl's Homepage
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Mom's cria has now been weaned for more than a week, and we've already seen a slight weight gain. Unfortunately, Mom is not at all impressed with either of the two brands of sweet feed that we've offered, but we are still giving her double servings of grain. If her weight gain doesn't continue, we'll try the blood testing when the vet comes out in a couple of weeks.
Thanks again,
Cheryl

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Winsome Ridge

53 Posts

Posted - 05/07/2004 :  1:56:38 PM  Show Profile
Thanks to all for the quick replies from me as well. Mom seems to have turned the corner and gaining a little weight. Since we're hoping to send her out for breeding in a couple of weeks, I'm going to go ahead and force wean now, so she has time to recover and fatten up before I ship her off.

I appreciate everyone's support!

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