Ever since I have been here at Diamond Forest Farm Stay the Alpacas have been rather unpredictable about giving birth. Unless we actually see Rolley, our male Alpaca, doing his thing it’s a little difficult to know exactly when our Alpaca girls fall pregnant. While Alpacas have quite a noisy and distinct mating ritual, with so many other animals to manage, even if we do spot their shenanigans, with two girls, we tend to lose track of who has been mating and when.
We have a fair idea if they are pregnant, even when their fleece is long and their bulging bellies are hidden, their behaviour towards Rolley is usually a good indication- especially if Rolley has a lot of green spit down his face! That’s the Alpaca way of saying ‘Your attentions aren’t wanted dude! Buzz off! I’m pregnant.’ Approximately eleven months later out pops a baby, literally. We’ve been caught off guard a few times with Alpacas being born and guests seeing them before we even know the Alpacas have given birth. Luckily they usually have them in the afternoon, unlike sheep who seem to prefer 3am, and so far they’ve been quite capable at handling it all by themselves. Until this time.
This time, when a very heavy down pour strikes (15ml of rain in about 5 minutes) Scarlett goes into labour. We are busy trying to unblock the leaf guard on the rainwater tank totally unaware that anything is happening. Yes, we guessed that both Scarlett and Blondie were pregnant but we only had a vague idea of when they were due and we thought neither of them were this close. But the rain storm and Scarlett clearly had other ideas.
After fixing the issue with the tank, Mark decided to take a walk around the property to make sure everything was okay; that nothing was damaged, leaking or in need of any attention. He was back to grab me very quickly telling me that Scarlett was in labour and the Cria was stuck, probably dead, and Scarlett desperately needed help. Coating up for the rain and preparing for the worst we headed back to the paddock. Sure enough Scarlett had managed to get the Cria’s head out and it was just hanging there, stuck. We weren’t even sure if the poor thing was still alive.
Our plan of action was for Mark to catch Scarlett and hold her and I would gently ease my hand in and try to find the legs and slowly pull the Cria out. I had flashbacks to the scene in City Slickers as I slipped my hand in and felt around. At this point I was glad to notice that the Cria was, in fact, still alive. Sure enough I found one leg just inside but it was buckled. It had to be straightened out before I could pull but I couldn’t budge it at all. I tried a little harder thinking perhaps I was being too gentle but it still wouldn’t shift.
Change of plans. Mark and I would swap. I would hold Scarlett against my chest and Mark would deliver the Cria. With his larger hands it probably was going to be less comfortable for Scarlett than my small hands but his superior strength was definitely needed. Poor Scarlett let out a few Alpaca screams which may have been defiance at being manhandled or may have been because she was in a lot of pain, or a bit of both, I couldn’t tell. With great difficulty Mark managed to find both legs, straighten them out and slowly but as gently as possible, he pulled the little Cria out. Once the shoulders came out, much like a human baby, suddenly the rest came out in a whoosh.
And yes the Cria was alive and looking much more lively once it was no longer stuck. Scarlett also seemed much, much more comfortable and had ceased her
screams and started to hum, as Alpacas do, to her little newborn. Even Blondie and Rolley came over for a quick look and offered some humming and nuzzling to Scarlett in support.
Taking no chances we moved mum and bub into a stable, closer to the house, with a clean bed of hay so we can keep them under observation. At last look our little newborn was on his feet looking for a feed from mum, who also looked much more relaxed and happy. Now that all the hard work has been done all we need is a name and with a few young guests on the farm I’m sure our little Alpaca Cria will have a name really soon.