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 3. Birthing & Neonatal Care
 Deformed Cria
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75 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  6:27:03 PM  Show Profile  Visit travis's Homepage  Send travis an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Hi All,
We had one of the most odd crias born on our farm today. A full term, white male, with one gigantic eyeball in the middle of his head, about the size of an apple. There was not much of a mouth, but an obvious tongue at the end of his head. We found him dead at sunup. We assume that he was born alive, considering everything was pink when we found him. We have taken pictures if anyone is interested you can e-mail me. They are not for the weak stomached person.

We contacted Ohio State and they said they have only seen one other cria like this one, and we will be shipping him to them for them to study.

Has anyone else ever heard of something like this?

Travis Winkler
Alpacas of the Bluegrass, LLC
La Grange, KY


114 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  8:50:59 PM  Show Profile  Visit redwood's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Could it be wry face? I've only ever seen in pictured in Dr. Evan's manual.


If you scroll down on this page...there is an example of wry face in a llama...I am assuming that it could look vastly different depending on its severity.

Julie Miller
Daughter of Redwood Ranch Alpacas

Edited by - redwood on 12/10/2007 8:58:24 PM
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75 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  8:54:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit travis's Homepage  Send travis an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Yes the cria did in fact have a little bit of wry face going on. The jaw bone was definitely curved upward. But that doesn't explain the missing mouth(except for the tongue) and the one gigantic eyeball in the center of his head.

Travis Winkler
Alpacas of the Bluegrass, LLC
La Grange, KY
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114 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  9:00:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit redwood's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I edited my last post to provide a link to a site that shows a llama with wry face. I would be interested in knowing what OSU finds out.

I'm sorry to hear about your cria, that had to be a difficult thing to find out in your field.

Julie Miller
Redwood Ranch Alpacas

Edited by - redwood on 12/10/2007 9:02:13 PM
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75 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  9:06:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit travis's Homepage  Send travis an AOL message  Reply with Quote
I have seen pictures of wry face before but this is far worse. What little part of the nose it had was curved up all the way under its one eyeball.

We will be shipping the cria to Ohio State in a day or so, and we will let you know what they think.

Travis Winkler
Alpacas of the Bluegrass, LLC
La Grange, KY
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592 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  9:53:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit WillowTan's Homepage  Reply with Quote

That is so sad.
It is difficult to see these little ones disfigured.
Was Mom by the baby?
Has Mom had other cria?
Thank you for sharing and please let us know what they find.
Take Care

Tana L. Ward
WillowTan Alpacas
A Small Farm With Strong Values!
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  10:27:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Travis,

So sorry to hear about your cria. Here is some information on it, in people anyway.

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
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116 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2007 :  11:16:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Travis,
I also wanted to extend my sympathy. A really tough thing
to have to deal with. The source Heidi cited is good. I
have only seen one cyclopia - a severely deformed human baby
while I was interning at a birth defects center and one in a
picture that gave me nightmares and left me terrified of ever
having a baby without first having an amniocentesis. Fortunately
these severe deformities are rare and usually aborted before
reaching full term. I commend your decision to send it to OSU
for them to learn as much as possible about the developmental
process that caused this.
Alpaca Dreamin LLC
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241 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2007 :  12:28:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

The problem was most likely caused by plant poisoning. Join look in the library for the book by Walter & Knight and you can vies the picture of a cyclops lamb with caution. I have seen lots of blood, guts, and gore in my time, but I still have trouble looking at this picture.

Plants Causing Abortion
Western False Hellebore, Skunk Cabbage, Corn Lily

Veratrum tenuipetalum (V. californiuom), V. viride - (Green false hellebore) Liliaceae (Lily family)

Western false hellebore is more common in moist mountain meadows and valleys above 8500 feet (2,590 meters), where it can form dense stands. Green false hellebore (V. viride) is more common at lower altitudes in moist meadows and forested areas.
Habitat of Western False Hellebore

Habitat of Western False Hellebore. Veratrum tenuipetalum (V. californiuom) - Liliaceae (Lily family). To view click on figure

Both species are very similar, course, erect, 4 to 8 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall, with short perennial rootstalks. The leaves are smooth, alternate, parallel veined, broadly oval to lanceolate, up to 12 inches (3 cm) long, 6 inches (15 cm) wide, in three ranks and sheathed at the base (Fig. 8-3A). The inflorescence is a panicle of very numerous, small, greenish white, star-shaped flowers, the lower ones often staminate and the upper ones perfect (Fig. 8-3B). The flowers of V. viride are distinctly green. The fruit is three-chambered with several seeds.
False hellebore

Figure 8-3A. False hellebore (Veratrum viride). To view click on figure
Western false hellebore or skunk cabbage

Figure 8-3B. Western false hellebore or skunk cabbage (V. tenuipetalum). To view click on figure
Principal Toxin

Over 50 complex alkaloids have been identified from Veratrum spp., some of which have been used as hypotensive drugs [35]. The plant is most toxic when it first emerges in the early spring, becom ing less toxic and more unpalatable as it matures. The roots are more toxic than the leaves.

Several of the alkaloids including cyclopamine, jervine, and cyclopasine are teratogenic [36]. Veratrumis the classical teratogen, causing pregnant ewes that consume the plant on the 14th day of gestation to produce a lamb that has a single eye located in the center of its head (cyclopia) [5]. If Veratrum is eaten later in gestation (30 - 35th. day) other defects including shortened legs and tracheal agenisis may develop [37]. Embryonic death in lambs without development of cyclopia may also occur [37,38]. Veratrum poisoning occurs mostly in sheep, but cattle, goats, and llamas are also susceptible to the teratogenic effects of cyclopamine [5].
Clinical Signs

Veratrum tenuipetalum is primarily important because of its teratogenic effects in sheep, but if consumed in quantity over a short period of time can produce acute poisoning. Sheep eating 6 to 12 oz of the plant may within a few hours show signs of excessive salivation, vomiting, fast irregular heart rate, muscular tremors, incoordination, and coma in severe cases. There is no specific treatment, but the affected sheep should be kept quiet and given symptomatic treatment as needed until they recover.

Pregnant ewes consuming Veratrum spp. on the 14th day of gestation may develop characteristic cyclopia in up to 25 percent of the lambs born [5,35,39]. Affected lambs are born with varying degrees of facial deformity including cyclopia (single or double centrally located eye), protruding and twisted mandible, shortened upper jaw and proboscis- like structure located above the eye (Fig. 8-4). The lambs have been referred to as "monkey faced" because of their appearance. Ewes eating V. tenuipetalum between 30 and 33 days of gestation produced lambs with different deformities that included cleft palate, hairlip, shortened legs, and tracheal stenosis [37-39]. Most deformed lambs are either born dead or die shortly after birth. Prolonged gestation periods are also associated with V. tenuipetalum poisoning.
Cyclops lamb

Figure 8-4. Cyclops lamb. To view click on figure

The teratogenic and other effects of Veratrum poisoning can be avoided by keeping sheep off of pastures containing the plants, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. If this is not possible, delaying the breeding season until after the first killing frost is a way of avoiding problems because the plants die off and lose their toxicity.
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777 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2007 :  01:20:07 AM  Show Profile  Visit Pepperina's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Link to sheep example

Note photo might be distressing. It is amazing that they go so long term.

Pepperina Alpacas Australia
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539 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2007 :  01:25:28 AM  Show Profile  Visit cyburham's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I am so sorry you have had to go through this. I can only imagine the feeling of finding this poor little cria. I looked online for more info or a picture of something similar and found this article on a cyclops kitten. Hopefully you can find solace in knowing this cria is being used to benefit future knowledge.

Cindy Burningham
Mountain Top Alpacas
7586 West Mountain Top Road
Herriman,Utah 84096
801 254-5627

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3320 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2007 :  09:38:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. I have seen a couple other cases of this, sporadic. It could be some kind of teratogen from the environment, or just random chance. If you are willing I would like a small tissue or blood sample and a fleece sample for my research, in case it is genetic. Ideally I would like the dam and sire and any blood relatives as well. you can email me at if you are willing to help with the research, and I will mail you a call for participation document that says where to send it etc... you can also call me at lab 607-777-6707 this afternoon or home this evening 607-785-8226 if you have any questions. Again, sorry for your bad luck. If nothing else, the cria can help in mapping the genes for coat color, as every animal has a color.

D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology
Binghamton Univeristy
Nyala Farm Alpacas
Vestal, NY
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154 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2007 :  10:02:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Travis, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like you are handling it well and I applaud your willingness to share this with us and Ohio State. Please keep us posted and I hope you have a fantastic cria at your next birth - your loss is a big one. Kaye
Kaye Sanderson
Diamond Rose Ranch
3950 N US Hwy 68
Wilmington, Ohio 45177
(937) 372-3625
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23 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2007 :  01:12:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit Bluegrass's Homepage  Reply with Quote
For those of you interested in seeing photos of this cria, you can do so on our "alternate" website at http://www.ALPACASKENTUCKY.COM/criaresearchpage.html They are pretty graphic!

Mind you, this is not our normal business website, but a domain we purchased some years back, just to have. Our actual website is, or here on AN.

Susan Swope
Alpacas of the Bluegrass, LLC
La Grange, KY
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318 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2007 :  10:02:15 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kate's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Dear Travis and Susan,
Thank you so much for making the photos available. I am so sorry for the pain this loss must have cost you.
We had a beautiful female cria born, live, with no upper jaw, on Christmas Eve day several years ago. We had to euthanize her because she had no nasal passages to breathe through (she was having difficulty breathing,) and she would be unable to suckle or chew. The conclusion was the same- a toxin ingested during that crucial developement stage. We never could find anything in the pasture, or speculate as to exactly what the toxin was.
It was absolutely heartbreaking!

Peace to you both,
Kate McKelvie
Alpacas of Sunset Fields
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97 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2007 :  10:30:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

How is the Dam doing?

Toni Kester
Spirit Eagle Alpacas
Lakewood, Wa
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23 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2007 :  10:49:55 AM  Show Profile  Visit Bluegrass's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Toni and All:

Thanks for all the good ideas and thoughts. We are appreciative. Seems that the concensus is quite possibly some sort of toxin. This female was bred at an unusual time of the year for us, January, because we struggled for so long to get her pregnant (two years), and stopping our efforts due to weather wasn't an option. We had a mild winter last year, so it's possible there could have been some strange plant in the field that was not problematic for the general population or females in a later stage of pregnancy. It's also possible that this particular female had a taste for something in the pasture that the others wouldn't touch. I see this in my horses. Most are pretty instinctive about toxic plants, but there is the... well, occasional stupid one.

As I think Travis (my son) mentioned, we found this cria at sunup. She delivered it in the shelter, and when we fed that morning she came running up to eat, as usual. There was quite a bit of blood on her legs so we knew something was up.

With the amount of blood, we knew it had been a difficult delivery. I think that the shape of this crias head is probably is what caused the difficulty. This maiden female didn't have the benefit of delivering a tapered muzzle graduating into the head/skull, etc. If you look at the pictures, what she had to deliver from the beginning was bigger than a normal head. I'm sure a human would have been scheduled for a c-section if something like this had been discovered on an ultrasound. She is doing fine, by the way. We have her on antibiotics as a precaution.

Susan Swope
Alpacas of the Bluegrass, LLC
La Grange, KY
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425 Posts

Posted - 12/12/2007 :  6:34:25 PM  Show Profile  Visit nancyspacas's Homepage  Reply with Quote

My condolences on your loss.... it must be extremely hard for all of you...
Glad to heal that your dam is doing ok. Hopefully next time it will be easier for her...and you....

Try and have a good Holiday Season,


Walnut Hill Farm, LLC
Metamora, MI
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1 Posts

Posted - 12/14/2007 :  10:34:18 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm so sorry for your loss. We experienced the same thing on 11/21/07 with a white peruvian dam delivering a deformed cria. The lower jaw was extended past upper. The nasel passage was almost non-existant. The large protruding eye and surrounding orbit was just terrible to look at. This was a live birth and the female cria was in much distress as it was unable to breath properly. As it was quite evident that survival was not a option we put down the cria. With a little more observation we also found that she had a 5th leg growing off one of her rear legs. My husband and I are new alpaca owners and have 7 alpaca. This was our first birthing and not an experience I want to relive. We have 2 more bred females to deliver in June/July and hope things go much better next year. If there is interest in viewing photos to reference they are available by email, howver, these are not for the faint of heart.

Linda Middaugh
R/L Paca Mundo
Fife Lake, MI.
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318 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2007 :  07:20:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kate's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Dear Linda,
How horrible that your first birth produced such a rare, tragic, deformity!
We had 15 beautiful, healthy crias born here before our poor deformed cria was born. Please know that they are not common! None of my breeder friends have had a similiar outcome on any of their breedings. (Ours was of Bolivian heritage, incidentally.)
I hope that the holidays treat you all well,
Kate McKelvie
Alpacas of Sunset Fields
Glen Rock, PA
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23 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2007 :  10:55:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit Bluegrass's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Linda,

Like Kate, we have had a number of births here (about 40-45), and this is the first deformity we have had. We've had a couple of stillbirths, but this is in a league of it's own. What happened to you (and us) is rare, and even more unfortunate that it happened on your first birthing experience. I am so sorry. Linda, it can only get better from here! I am certain you will have healthy crias on the ground in 2008.

Susan Swope
Alpacas of the Bluegrass, LLC
La Grange, KY
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