Preparing for your upcoming birthing season
Preparing for the alpaca birthing season in the UK requires careful planning and consideration of several factors. Here is a comprehensive list of preparations and supplies to ensure a successful birthing season:
- Know the due dates: Keep accurate breeding records to determine the expected due dates of your pregnant alpacas. Alpacas have an 11 to 12-month gestation period, and knowing the due dates will help you monitor the pregnancies closely and be prepared for the births.
- Birthing area: Designate a clean, well-drained, and sheltered area for birthing. Make sure it is easily accessible and has enough space for the dam and cria to move comfortably. The area should provide protection from the elements and have good ventilation.
- Observe dams closely: Monitor the pregnant dams for any signs of impending birth, such as udder development, changes in behaviour, or a loosening of the vulva. Regularly check their body condition and overall health.
- Vet contact: Establish a relationship with a veterinarian experienced in alpaca care. Have their contact information readily available in case of emergencies or complications during the birthing process.
- Birthing kit: Prepare a birthing kit with essential supplies, including:
- Clean towels or cloths for drying the cria.
- Iodine solution for disinfecting the crias navel.
- Surgical gloves for assisting with the birth if necessary.
- Lubricant in case assistance is required.
- Sterile scissors for cutting the umbilical cord if it doesn’t break naturally.
- Thermometer for monitoring the crias temperature.
- Weighing scale to record the crias birth weight.
- A notepad and pen for recording important information.
- A camera or smartphone for documenting the birth and the crias progress.
- Colostrum and milk replacer: Have a supply of frozen colostrum or colostrum replacer on hand in case the dam has trouble producing enough colostrum or nursing the cria. A milk replacer formulated for alpacas may also be necessary if the dam is unable to nurse.
- Cria care supplies: Prepare additional supplies for the new born cria, such as:
- Cria coats for warmth during cold or wet weather
- A heat lamp or warming box for extra warmth if needed.
- Feeding bottles and nipples for supplemental feeding if required
- Post-birth care: Be prepared to monitor the dam and cria closely after the birth. Check the dam for any health issues or complications and ensure the cria is nursing, active, and bonding with its mother.
- Record keeping: Update your records with the crias birth details, including the date, time, weight, sex, and any observations or issues during the birthing process. This information is essential for tracking the health and development of your alpacas.
By taking these steps, you can ensure a well-prepared and successful alpaca birthing season in the UK. Always consult with an experienced alpaca veterinarian for guidance and support throughout the process.