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 3. Birthing & Neonatal Care
 multiple stillbirths - different circumstances?

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
AlexThacker Posted - 12/04/2014 : 1:40:31 PM
I've had my herd for less than a year and we've had 3 stillbirths. The first was a "rescue" girl who was in very bad shape when she came to us so I figured that was the reason. The cria's nose and mouth were clear and the afterbirth was unbroken.

A couple of months ago, an experienced mom had a stillborn which didn't break out of the sac, had milky eyes, and the afterbirth was intact. The mom had been delivered to us just a couple of months before that so I attributed that loss to the move.

Last week another experienced girl was off by herself - sure enough, she had a dead cria. It was completely free of the sac, dry, had teeth, was beautifully put together, no blockages and the afterbirth was intact. We were told this girl hadn't been bred so we weren't expecting the baby and I think it may have just gotten too cold.

We started looking closely at the other girl who came with the last mom I described and it's clear she's pregnant as well, even though we believed she was open when we bought her in June. Her belly dropped a couple of days ago so we've penned her up with a companion, and we’re checking every 2 hours, but I'm in a bit of a panic. I really don't have the heart to lose another baby and I have no clue what's going wrong or how to fix it. I've been reading the forum but everyone seems to be having isolated incidents, not the stream of rotten luck I'm seeing. I welcome any advice!

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Christiane Posted - 12/22/2014 : 11:28:30 AM
Hello Alex, Sounds like you have things under control now. I went to a neo natal clinic before my first alpaca was born, and that was the best investment I ever made. If you have the opportunity, take one. There should be plenty of alpaca farms near you that might be able to help you out as well. Just check out the alpaca farms on alpacanation, and alpaca street, as well as open herd. Too bad you aren't near me, because I am a Mentor Farm, and like many other alpaca farmers, am always glad to help out newcomers.

The heat lamp is a very good idea, and plenty of clean straw to keep things clean in there. I have a small pen in the back of my three sided barn(which now has tarps across the front to keep the weather out) where I put my expectant moms that are close to their due dates. Since I have had a couple of still births due to bad weather in the winter, I no longer breed alpacas late in the year, but do my breedings in the spring, early summer. However, in your case, I know you did not have any say so in that matter, so wish you good luck with this one. As
Bill and Judith have told you, keep plenty of clean towels and a hair dryer handy, and do lots of checking. Most of the time, they will have their babies between the hours of ten AM and three PM, but some will give birth during the night--as was the case with the ones that I have here that were still born during cold weather.

Wishing you good luck.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
AlexThacker Posted - 12/22/2014 : 10:50:11 AM
Thank you everyone! I've invested in cria blankets and put an emergency kit (towels, blow dryer, etc) in the barn. I especially like the idea of the heat lamp - I have a really good set up for chicks that was easy to convert. It's warmed up a little bit here (I'm just east of Memphis). I've been reading everything I can get my hands on.

Our vet works with a local llama keeper but is principally an equine dentist. He's the closest vet we could find with any kind of camelid experience. I've also got the llama farm on speed dial , bless them!

I really appreciate all the support and thorough answers. Keeping my fingers crossed!

tortkid43 Posted - 12/05/2014 : 9:29:38 PM
I 2nd and 3rd what Bill and Robin said as well..


Mike and Maggie Carabajal
Rancho De La Luz Alpacas
Elgin, Tx
Judith Posted - 12/05/2014 : 09:59:23 AM
Hi Alex - I had a lovely long reply all written last night but I lost my internet connection just as I was trying to post it, so I lost the whole darned thing, and my arm hurt too much to redo it. So, pretty much what Robin and Bill have said.

Your first 3 losses are pretty much explainable given the circumstances you'd set forth although of course there's no way to be certain. However, the logic of the circumstances seems to fit the outcome.

Just a couple of things to try with the last girl: If it's cold where you are, make sure she has a lovely deep bed of straw and an enclosed shelter with no drafts. You can increase the temperature there if needed by securely duct-taping a brood lamp over her stall, making sure that it can't accidentally drop into the hay or straw and cause a fire, and that the cord isn't located where it could be a strangulation problem if she got her neck through it. You might want to invest in a heated piglet mat for the cria to have a warm place to cush after it's born, and of course you may need a cria coat or two (sometimes they get wet and you have to switch them out for a dry one). Make sure that you get the cria dry as soon as possible after birth (hair dryer works well - just don't use the hot setting or get close enough to burn the cria). I keep lots of old towels and sheets around for birthing to rub down the crias or to help move them to a drier or warmer location if they're born outside or in inclement weather.

See if you can locate the tendons running down the female's hind quarters; they will loosen dramatically as birthing nears so that gives you a heads-up to be on guard.

If you have a nearby breeder who can look in on her for you and perhaps show you where to check the tendons, that would be helpful. Most breeders are very willing to help out.

Keep us posted, and good luck with your next birthing experience! And don't forget to add your signature block, as Bill indicated. That helps us respond appropriately.

Judith Korff
LadySong Farm
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
renfarms Posted - 12/05/2014 : 02:42:38 AM
Hello, welcome to the alpaca world, and welcome to Alpacanation. One thing that would be helpful is to create a "signature block" and include it when you post. This will help other readers see where you are located, and what kind of weather, etc., you are experiencing.

I agree with everything that Robin suggested. Alpaca folks are, by and large, very willing to offer advice and assistance to those needing it. Depending upon where you live, you may find a large number of farms nearby, who might be willing to become a "mentor" to you, and might even be able to come out to your farm to help you determine what things may be contributing to your problems, and offer solutions.

Sorry to hear that you're having a rough go of it at the start, but hang in there, continue to ask questions and learn, and things will turn around. You should also try to find a local vet to work with, preferably one experienced with alpacas or llamas. If you don't have an experienced vet nearby, a number of states have universities with vet schools where they provide training in camelid care to their vet students and can possibly offer you the ability to get a "phone consultation" whereby you might get some answers or insights offered to you or can bring an animal in for emergency care.

Best of luck to you and keep us posted on how things work out with this other girl!


Bill and Louise Goebel
Renaissance Farms
McArthur, Ohio 45651
(740) 596-1468
ard Posted - 12/04/2014 : 5:31:19 PM
Hi Alex,
Really sorry to hear of your losses. It is always so hard to loose the little ones. When the females have been through hardships, they do sometimes loose their babies. If you have moved your herd from one region to another, that can be hard on birthing mothers. In alpacas, as with many animals, the off spring are the first to go because they cannot live without their mothers. Nature taking its course. It may be that they were bred unintentionally to a sibling. That can cause problems.
Keep a really close eye on your girl that is expecting. You have done the correct thing to put her with a friend where you can watch her. If it is cold where you are, it is really important to get the cria up and dry as soon as possible after the birth. Be sure to keep the mom with the baby at all times. When you handle the babies, they acquire a different smell and the mother might reject them if she is not in constant proximity to the cria.
We did not loose any babies for our first 10 years. When we did, we lost three. They all had the same sire. We did not use him again.
If you have alpaca people near you, call them to see if they would be willing to help you with the birth. If not, most of the people on this site are willing to help in any way they can. Most have their locations and phone numbers listed. Give a call for someone to help you through the process.

Robin Alpert
Alpacas 'R Diamonds
15163 W 323rd
Paola, KS 66071

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