- Generally healthy, well-fed female alpacas give birth to strong and robust babies. But anyone who has raised livestock knows there are occasional problem births and babies that have a difficult time surviving shortly after birth. With birthing season upon us, it seemed only fitting to find a strong article on how to deal with problem births. There are few ecstasies in life greater than saving another living thing. Brad Smith, Karen Timm, and Pat Long were kind enough to allow the reprinting of ‘Birth to 24 Hours of Age’ from their excellent book Llama and Alpaca Neonatal Care.
- Most normal crias will start attempting to stand by ½ hour, succeeding by 1 hour after birth. Once they are up, they start attempting to nurse (usually start trying around 1 hour, succeeding by 3-4 hours). Once the dam and cria have bonded (usually when nursing is established), start dipping the navel with iodine or chlorohexidene 0.5% (repeat 2-3 times daily for 1-2 days) and weigh the baby. Normal (“average”) alpaca babies weigh at least 12 pounds.
- “Sepsis is a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria”.1 The more accurate diagnostic consequence of sepsis is what is termed Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS). Regardless of the animal SIRS afflicts, the bacteria must have an entry point into the bloodstream and the animal must be vulnerable. In the newborn cria, the entry into the bloodstream is usually the umbilical cord. Invading bacteria also need a susceptible host.2 In the newborn cria, that immune vulnerability is produced when the cria gets inadequate amounts of colostrom, or poor quality colostrom. Camelids are born with a condition called, in medical terms, agammaglobulinemia. This simply means they are born with no passive immunity acquired during gestation. During the pregnancy, the gestating cria attains no temporary source of immunity to common environmental bacteria through the placenta. The entire source of the camelid immunoglobulin (IgG), or temporary immunity, is acquired from the colostrom the cria ingests in the hours after birth.3 The newborn camelid cria’s immunity to infectious agents is completely dependent on receiving adequate and early doses of colostrom.
- Neonatal camelids can develop hyperglycemia, hypernatremia, and hyperosmolarity in response to a combination of stress and inadequate water intake. Clinical signs of this syndrome include a fine head tremor, ataxia, and a base-wide stance of the hind limbs, but biochemical analyses are necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Camelids appear to be susceptible to this syndrome because of a poor insulin response to hyperglycemia; hypernatremia results from free water loss associated with glucose diuresis. Water loss associated with glucose diuresis may necessitate a higher rate of fluid administration in camelids with this syndrome than is typically used for treatment of hypernatremia in calves.
- Crias with sepsis do not appear to present with major biochemical, hematologic, or blood gas abnormalities, potentially complicating diagnosis. Affected crias may not have localizing signs at presentation and are not usually febrile, although hypothermia, tachypnea, and tachycardia are relatively common. Total protein concentration was not a substitute for immunoglobulin G measurement in septic crias in this study. Familiarity with the clinical presentation and common pathogens isolated should improve early recognition and treatment and ultimately outcome of crias with sepsis.