Alpacas – Life and Loss

beautiful Suri alpacas

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately because we had a tough week last week. Some of you have been following our alpaca journey so I’d thought I’d share with you what happened.

alpacas as pets

We recently added a few more alpacas to our pack and included in the new ones were a couple of females that were hopefully pregnant.

It’s really hard to tell with alpacas as they carry their cria (babies) very high. There are only two ways to really tell if they are actually pregnant and it’s a long waiting game. You can have a vet visit and do an ultrasound or you can bring another male alpaca over to visit and if the female spits at him and won’t have a bar of him then she’s most likely pregnant. This is called a spit off for obvious reasons.  Anyway it seemed like “Aussie Girl” was pregnant when we had a spit off but you just never really know. My friend told me that she thought one of her alpacas was pregnant but it turned out that she was just feeding her too much!

pregnant alpaca

The lovely lady we got our Suri alpacas from told us Aussie Girl was due early January so we’ve spent every day checking on her a lot and giving her extra attention and care. Early January came and went and I kept saying to my husband that it must be any day now. Last Thursday I went out to get the girls new school shoes. I was nervous about leaving as I didn’t want to miss the birth so we’d been spending a lot of time at home these holidays because of our first impending alpaca birth. We left at 11am after I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen that day as apparently they usually have their babies early in the morning so that by nightfall they can stand up.

Alpacas Life and Loss

I got a call from my husband at about 3pm that Aussie Girl had gone into labour so we rushed home. It was a very hot day and when I got home she was sitting under a tree away from the other alpacas. Sometimes she stood up to try and push the baby out however she seemed very tired and would always sit back down again. This went on for a while and we started to worry that it was taking too long.

kids at alpaca birth

It was a busy day at our house with my four kids trying to get a glimpse, a couple of neighbours and my parents who were visiting us. We were worried that we were disturbing her so tried to keep a distance and be quiet. Gosh I know I didn’t ever want that many people staring at me while I birthed!

Anyway we made a few calls and realised that second stage is around 40 minutes and it was an hour so she should have progressed further. We called the vet who was just down the road. While we waited for her to come my husband and I went down into the paddock to take a closer look and see if we could help her. When I saw the baby I knew it wasn’t breathing. When the vet arrived soon after she confirmed our worst suspicions that the baby was still born. It was a little black male and she had to help the mother birth him as his leg was in the wrong position and stuck so there was no way Aussie girl could birth her cria on her own. It was hard for the vet to tell for sure but she said the cria may have been dead before she went into labour.

pregnant suri alpaca

Poor mumma. She was very sorry for herself for a few days and stayed under that same tree by herself. Lucky that we called the vet though otherwise she might have passed away too with exhaustion.

So no cute little baby cria just a nice big vet bill. Nevertheless that is life on the land and life with animals. It was just so sad that this was to be our first alpaca birth and that it turned out this way. Apparently it is pretty rare for them to have problems so I don’t know why this happened. Aussie girl is 11 so it’s not like it was her first baby either.

I shed many tears and then just had to get busy doing things so that the visions of the day moved further away from me.

kids and alpacas

So now we are holding our hopes up that the other female, pictured above with the white face, is really pregnant. She is due in July so it’s going to be a bit of a wait until then.

new baby cria

This is our sweet little boy “Vincent” who my husband hopes will become our stud male when he grows up. I love this photo of my husband carrying him into the paddock on the day we got him.

As hard as this was to go through I wouldn’t choose to not have animals because of it. Some life lessons for the kids and I believe it has made us all stronger.

We decided to call him Bruce and we buried him on our acreage. Sometime when my heart is less heavy I will make a little cross to mark the spot.

RIP little Bruce.


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