Friday, 13 August 2010


Just a quick one tonight folks, we are battling against cria rejection here and no-one seems to have encountered this type before.

Roger Resilient (aged 2 months and 6 days), who as you may remember is a rather splendid little fellow is the son of our stressiest alpaca, Poppy. Actually Penny (Poppy's sister) is about equal in the stressy stakes, and come to think of it Bobby (the mother of both Poppy and Penny) is also a complete nightmare.

Anyway moving on. Roger, together with four other Patou cria was shorn last Wednesday in Incaland. Upon our return to the kingdom of Patou all appeared well. However, over the next couple of days we noticed that Poppy was not allowing Roger to feed. She was kicking him off and spitting at him. We checked her out thoroughly. No sign of Mastitis or anything else that would indicate she was in discomfort. We milked her from all four teats, all working perfectly.
As you can imagine this wasn't easy and was done on the floor.

So she was ok, so what was the problem. We penned them together for 24 hours. Poppy spent most of the time peering over the gate at the other cria, humming. Roger stood by her side, unnoticed. Unnoticed that is until he tried to feed, then the kicks flew. I spoke to his Incaness, I spoke to Mary-Jo at Bozedown, we scanned the internet.

Yesterday we bagged up Roger's fleece into hair nets and using double sided sticky tape we stuck it all over him. Poppy sniffed him but still will not let him feed 24 hours later.

Our latest attempt is also based upon smell. We have painted Poppy's nose with lavender oil. We have also painted Roger's bottom and head with lavender oil. The theory is that, well you can probably work it out for yourself. Sue is now observing from a distance.

In the meantime, since a week ago we have been bottle feeding little Roger and his weight is increasing slowly. He is not underweight so at the moment he is alright but we would dearly love for him to be accepted by his mad mother.

Any suggestions would be gratefully received.


Rob @ Wellground said...

Hi Mark,

It doesn't make it any easier I know. I am sorry I can't offer any really new ideas other than the ones you have tried.

But we encountered this years ago when we cria sheared our younger ones. We know several of people who have have had the same experience as you.

We were told later by an alpaca shearer that we should have left the tail on in full as well as a tuft of fleece at the base of the tail on the back. Also a big tuft at the back of the neck below the top knot. We were advised that this could be clipped back with scissors to match the rest of the fleece at weaning time later in the year.

We were told that these points are where the Dam sniffs her cria when nursing it. The presence of the original fleece tufts would give her the recognition that the cria was hers and allow feeding. We are aware of people who have since tried this and rejection is still an occasional issue. We haven't tried that ourselves.

We now cria shear only the cria that are about to be weaned. Or at least those that, if mother rejected them, they would be able to cope with weaning.

It's something we fell foul of ourselves, it's very stressful for you. We do wish you the best of luck with it.

You may have tried it. If not try milking mum off, and placing her milk on cria's head and tail area, so she can smell herself on baby. It's the best we can offer.

Good luck mate.


Lucy said...

Oh Mark that must be hard. Just a thought - I am sure you have thought of this one - but when he was coated, was his tail covered? I think they sniff around the tail to recognise their crias don't they? I've read that coating can cause problems. We had to coat Tiree and the herd acted as if there was a new cria on the block. Thankfully Hayley knew she was hers and is fine with her feeding, but H is very laid back. I so hope you have some success. What about smearing some of mum's milk on mum's nose and the cria's bottom and nose? I wonder if that might help some bonding. Hope the lavender oil works.

Lucy said...

After reading Rob's post I would defo try the milk thing Mark. I think he and I were typing at the same time.

Rosemary said...

Wish I could think of something clever to do - but I can't - so just the very best of luck from me. Hope the bond returns soon - best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

On Monday of this week we had our last cria born to a maiden.
She immediately walked off and abandoned her cria. Would have absolutley nothing to do with it, and I have actually seen her bite her ear!. Nightmare, we coaxed we pushed we milked her off. She then sat every time we went near her. We had to resort to strapping her next to a wall in the barn and putting her cria on her to feed, this was done for at least 24 hours, she then allowed the cria to feed when we put her next to her, and this is now getting a little better and she will allow it to feed when she is ready and I top up with a bottle three or four times a day, it is getting a little easier but we have a long way to go, I have actually seen mum bite the crias ear and push her off, we have a very big decision whether to mate her again or not. Time will tell

Sue Valley Alpacas

Zanzibah Alpacas said...

Sorry to hear of the problems you are having, with Roger ! The only other thing I can suggest, its not nice, but might be worth a instead of the milk...try the wee wee, from the mum..and put it over the sniffing you suggested...back of head...tail...etc !....this might help with Poppy to realise that he is her baby...!! and the scent..of him might be recognised...Good luck..with your 'rejection' problems...fingers crossed for a positive out-come !!.....Jayne

Terry said...

No suggestions, just sympathy for a hard situation.