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  Article Authored by: Dave Schieferstein & Teri Phipps, Fireweed Ranch Ltd.
Article Submitted: September 2003



Alpaca Colostrum: Liquid Gold That Can Save a Life


None of us ever want to think about losing a cria. It’s a heartbreaking event for us as breeders and for the dam. Occasionally, despite our best efforts, a cria loss does occur. Sometimes we know the reason but more often, it remains an unanswered question.

We as breeders can do something positive during this sad time. Perhaps your farm can be blessed with a miracle as mine was.

It was a warm sunny June morning when I noticed Savanah acting like she was in labor. (Savanah pictured right). 

This was her first pregnancy and she had just passed her due date. How exciting! My first cria of the year! My daughter, Becky, and I kept a casual but close eye on her all morning. As morning turned to early afternoon with no real progression we started to get concerned. When early afternoon became late afternoon and still no cria, we knew it was time to call the vet.

The vet arrived within 45 minutes of my call and set to work examining Savanah. She quickly discovered the cria was in a full breech position and undeliverable on it’s own. She gently pointed out that very few cria in this position are born alive.  The vet delivered the cria within a ½ hour but it was too late to save the beautiful little male.

What a terrible loss. Savanah had fostered an orphan cria as a maiden. I knew she would make a wonderful attentive mother and her udder was full of life giving colostrum.

Then I began to wonder, we save frozen goat and cow colostrum, why couldn’t I harvest and freeze Savanah’s precious colostrum in case another cria needed it? The vet confirmed that this was a great idea. Savanah could be milked a few times that day and the next to harvest the colostrum before letting her dry up. This is not an easy thing to do and we only ended up with about a ½ cup of the “liquid gold” but some was better than none. I thought that was the end of the story but fate has way of spicing things up.

On February 2nd I find myself driving my friend and her very ill pregnant female to Ohio State University. We arrived there about 1:00 am Sunday. The staff did a thorough exam and found the cria to be safe and strong inside it’s mom. “Mom” was not doing well so they admitted her. We were to check back Monday and see how she and her unborn cria were doing. As Monday wore on it became clear to the staff at OSU that the dam would not survive and the cria had to be delivered by caesarian section.

When my friend told me of the impending birth, I thought of the “liquid gold” I’d saved from Savanah’s loss the previous June. The cria could use this! I could help! I immediately called OSU and told them of my treasure. They were happy to accept it. I overnighted it so the cria would have pure alpaca colostrum when it was born.

The vets at OSU induced labor Monday afternoon to prepare the cria for birth and delivered him at 11:00am Tuesday. He was healthy, strong and weighed 14.5 lbs. He was a fighter. Savanah’s colostrum arrived within a few hours and he hungrily ate it. His IgG score was a successful 1800. No failure of passive transfer. Savanah had saved his life through her loss. Due to her circumstances, my friend was unable to take on the immense task of bottle raising the cria so she gave him to my daughter. We had already raised a bottle baby and were prepared for what was to come but that is a whole other story. So, Wednesday evening after work I was on my way back to OSU to pick up our new addition.

Out of two tragedies came one miracle that had come full circle to end up back with us at our farm. Yes, losing a cria is heartbreaking but the potential for miracles is limitless if you can just remember to save that precious “liquid gold”!


About the Author: Serenity Ridge Farm has been breeding and raising alpacas since 1995. We offer diverse genetics and award winning animals. Our post sale service is phenomenal. We've helped our clients birth their first cria (once even over the phone!!), design pastures & shelters and choose the right male for their breeding needs.

We believe our greatest success happens by working with others. Through this networking we're able to provide a wide variety of high quality alpacas for sale or breeding services.

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