a Suri Farm, ltd.

Fine Peruvian Alpacas in the Heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country!

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May 04, 2017

Our First Cria


Do you remember this line from the classic film Gone With the Wind? If not, it went like this –
Prissy: Is the doctor come?
Scarlett: No, he can’t come.
Prissy: Oh, Miss Scarlett, Miss Melanie’s bad off.
Scarlett: He can’t come, there’s nobody to come. Prissy, you’ve got to manage without the doctor, I’ll help you.
Prissy: Oh, lawsy, Miss Scarlett.
Scarlett: Well, what is it?
Prissy: Lawsy, we got to have a doctor, I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies!

Well, Prissy could’ve been an alpaca owner anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first cria. No matter how many books you read or people you talk to or seminars you attend – nothing can prepare you fully for this exciting event. It’s one of those things in life you have to live through to comprehend completely.

I did what any expectant breeder would do. I spoke with the kind people who sold me my animals. They gave some great advice through probing questions:
· Is she at full term, 335 days?
· Is she visiting the poop pile more frequently?
· Is she walking around with her tail up in the air?
Simple questions, right? Wrong. My answers went as follows: she’s close to 335, I guess she’s pooping more, well, her tail’s kinda up kinda down… I don’t know. Thanks for the help, I’ll call you later.

So, on to my next brilliant thought – I’ll call Mom! She’s not an alpaca breeder but I’m the last of SEVEN CHILDREN – surely she should know something about when birth is imminent. Here’s what I got:
“Aw, hell honey, I don’t know, each of you kids were different. Patty was three months early. Gus shot out like he was on water skis. Michael was no problem. Johnny was cute as hell. Vinny was blue. Myra was coming breech and flipped over on the way to the delivery room. And you were HUGE – loudest baby in the nursery! Uh, thanks for the help, Ma. So there you have it, one mom, seven babies, and seven different deliveries.

Alpacas are a bit more consistent. Many times a proven female will deliver in exactly the same number of days as her previous births. Maiden females or first time moms need to be watched more closely. We had one maiden who went into labor exactly on her 335th day at exactly twelve noon – picture perfect. She was a bit confused about the whole birthing process, however, and kept spinning around to see what was coming out of her. We had to halter and lead her out into an open pasture for the birth so she wouldn’t slam herself or the cria into a barn wall in her stall.

Another of our dams has the uncanny ability to wait until we’re not around to deliver her cria in the afternoon. She’s had two so far and both have been beautiful healthy babies. We’re not sure how long she was in labor or where she gave birth but she seems to want to be left alone to do her business in private.

Our very first cria was born in private as well. We had prepared everything. We had a cria kit with latex gloves, a thermometer, iodine, a feeding tube, lubricant and anything else we could think we might need in an emergency. It’s a good idea to keep a cria kit in the barn. (The things inside will probably expire before you ever have the opportunity to use them but at least you’ll feel prepared.) Dennis and I were on rotating cria watch. I stayed home some mornings from work, he stayed home others. Whichever of us was at work called home anxiously awaiting the news.

On one particular spring morning, it was Denny’s turn on watch. He had come back from morning chores at the barn before I’d left for work and reported no change. So off I went hoping in one way that today would be the day so he’d have to handle the stress. He made regular trips up to the barn to see if anything had changed: 8:30, nothing; 9:30, nothing; 10:30 nothing; 11:30 – Holy cow, it’s a girl! And she’s perfect! I remember it well, I was at lunch with clients and my cell phone vibrated at 12:26 p.m. It is extremely rude to answer a cell phone in a restaurant but this was home calling, this was my first cria, and I have the most understanding clients in the world. We all whooped and hollered and then the questions began – how big is she? Is the mom okay? What’s her name? I tried my darnedest to stay focused on our lunch meeting but to no avail. I had to get home. I had to hold this cria.

As I pulled up the driveway my eyes welled with tears… happy tears. There was my husband laying out in a pasture, grinning from ear to ear watching his investment grow and loving every minute of it! He had just witnessed one of the greatest joys of alpaca ownership, the birth of our first cria.