Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why does is seem that....

...animals always pick the coldest, wettest times to give birth?

It has been raining here for two days and the rain is supposed to be here for 2 more days still. I was in the kitchen getting ready to go out to the barn to do chores when I looked out the window to see our alpaca, Noodle, laying down out in the wet pasture. She was just laying there. I watch for a moment and then went to find Neil to let him know I thought that Noodle was in labor.

Down at the barn Noodle came in as I was graining all the girls. A quick lift of her tail confirmed a birth was impending. As she was eating I slipped a halter on her so I could lead her into one of the stalls where it was at least dry. On the way to the stall Noodle cushed and then laid on her side during a contraction. That is when I saw the cria's nose wiggling and breathing! This might sound like a good thing but it is not. The proper presentation for most large animals, alpacas included, is the have the two front feet/legs present first followed by the head.

With the nose out as far as 2 inches and no toes I was a bit concerned. I had Neil, who was out in the garage by now, come and stay with Noodle with instructions to move her into the stall if she stands up. Meanwhile, I came back up to the house to read through a few alpaca books to see if this was an easy malposition to correct. Returning to the barn with refreshed knowledge, an arm full of towels, a bucket of warm soapy water and some K-Y I hoped for the best outcome.

A quick pelvic exam revealed one little foot just inside the cervix but only one. Noodle's cervix had yet to fully dilate so there was no room for me to reach in to try to locate the missing foot. I had to wait for labor to progress more. In the meantime the cria's little nose kept twitching and breathing... which was a good thing. I stayed with Noodle for another 20 minutes with no progress in the birth. I ran back up to the house to get the cordless phone so I could call the vet. Back at the barn, I called the vet's after hour emergency number and left a message.

As I walked back in to the stall with Noodle I was thrilled to see TWO FRONT LEGS out about 8 inches! I was doing the happy dance and ran down to the garage to let Neil know I thought all was well. I few minutes later the vet returned my call and I was happy to tell him everything was fine.

Noodle was pretty tired and she didn't make any progress after the cria's head was delivered even after another 30 minutes had passed. I don't like to assist with deliveries if at all possible as I think it often adds more stress to the dam and baby to be handling them a lot. But, I felt that Noodle needed a little help to complete this delivery. I took a dry towel and grabbed hold of the two front legs. During Noodle's next contraction I put some gentle traction toward her feet and the shoulders slipped out. The next contraction I assisted again and the cria was delivered. Since it was so cold and wet out and the cria was stressed from being in the birth canal for so long I quickly toweled it off and put on a polar fleece jacket on it to keep its core temperature up.

The little cria is a male that looks just like his sire, our stud Novio.

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