Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Belle update

Well, above is what we'd like to be seeing more of....But this is what is happening much more often.... bummer. We may have our first full-time bottle cria ever. Over our 14 years, we've had to intervene with perhaps 1 cria per year to make sure they get their initial milk and work through some early problems with the dam. We once had a cria orphaned at nearly 3 months, but he really fought the bottle at that point and found another dam who would allow him to nurse to supplement the food he was already eating on his own. We've had perhaps 3-4 premature crias (out of nearly 400 born here) that needed early assistance because they were weak, and we have had one dam with an udder problem whose crias need extra care.

For whatever reason, Belle just doesn't seem to want to latch on well to her mom. We've done bloodwork, exams, milked out the dam regularly, everything but they just can't seem to get hooked up.... yet (I haven't lost all hope).

Crias are tougher to get to take a bottle than lambs or calves, they just want to resist it even if they're hungry and they drink pretty slowly. To maintain their body weight they need at least 10% of their total weight in milk and to gain they need 15% or more... which equates to about 28-30 ounces for Belle, at an average of 5 ounces per feeding (IF she takes it), which is 5-7 feedings per day. For the first week, we did round-the-clock feedings but now we don't feed during sleeping hours, so it's a lot to get in all of those bottles.

We use regular Vit. D milk at our vet's recommendation, and sometimes add a tad of cream and plain yogurt for the probiotics.

Next I'll talk about how NOT to create a monster from a bottle-fed cria! What, that cute little sweet friendly thing a monster? They can become pretty crazy if not handled correctly. Fortunately, Belle is a fantastic female cria so I know that it'll all be worth it in the long run!

1 comment:

Alpaca Farmgirl said...

When bottle feeding I found that adding yogurt to the bottle stops up the nipple, which is frustrating for cria and the person feeding them (me usually!). Instead we use a product called Keifer. Keifer is a liquid or drinkable yogurt-like product that you can find at the grocery store. Adding a bit of that to the bottles helps their guts stay balanced and doesn't clog the bottle.