who we are
imports & exports
learn with us
studs for sale
Nic and Linda keep up-to-date with the latest in alpaca information, by reading widely, being a member of the New Zealand, Australian, British and American alpaca associations, and attending conferences worldwide.
They share this knowledge with others through holding industry training days and workshops, writing articles for industry magazines
in New Zealand, Australia, UK, and USA and also through articles on this website
and other websites.
Click here for more articles
By Linda Blake Southern Alpacas Stud
is 'The Don" in our Alpaca Gallery, visiting the place of his caesarian
birth. So you know the ending is a happy one - both mum and baby
However the bit in-between is a bit gory - you have been
During Don's birth, whoever had a free
hand picked up the camera and took a photo. Surprisingly, between
six of us, we got a great record we can now share with you.
Caesarian birth is defined as birthing
delivery by cutting though the abdomen wall, and is named for Julius Caesar
who was reputedly born this way.
Caesarians are not common in alpacas. We
have used them for uterine torsions, where mum rolls and twists her uterus
over, screwing tight the mouth of the uterus. If you can't de-torse
her, (by rolling her over while holding the uterus still - very difficult)
then the only option left is a caesarian or you lose mum and cria.
It involves an element of risk, at least
two vets, plus owners as helpers, and about 5 hours from anaesthetic to
cria and mum up and walking.
This alpaca presented with a uterine torsion
late afternoon - she had been trying to birth, complete with contractions,
and had made no progress, and an internal investigation gave the tell-tale
feel of a twist of the mouth of the uterus.
Vets called, pot of water on to boil up
instruments, shearing table inside for the restraining and operating table,
and, optimistically, warm towels, hair dryer, cria coat, Anlamb bottle
Vets arrived, alpaca sedated, up on
the table, left side uppermost always for a caesarian, as there is less tissue
to cut through here. Drip in to keep her sedated, belly shaved. We pegged
towels on her fibre to keep it out of the way and the area clean, and used a bit
of super glue on the drip to keep it in, as it snaked up to the drip hanging
from a hook in the ceiling. Yes, we had operated here before !
Vet Richard keeps a watchful eye on the
drip - a full-time job - whilst vet Donald prepares to operate. The
first cut, carefully, through several layers of tissue, and there is the
"You'll need to birth the cria, Linda,"
"Me ? How ?" I was incredulous.
"Same as usual, except through the hole
I 've cut", replied Donald.
Well, yes, but there are all these extra bits of
gut and tissues and blood and other things I can't identify and they seem to get
in the way but, without really even knowing how I did it, I quickly had a cria
in my hands, and it was even clean and white, not bloody, coming out of the side
of the uterus. Richard reached across to clear its nose and it breathed.
We couldn't breathe a sigh of relief yet
- it is but the start. As I hung the cria upside down to drain its
lungs, I had to be watchful of the scissors clamp on the umbilical cord,
as the cord had not stretched as in a natural birth, which is what stops
the bleeding usually.
Within minutes of drying it, the cria
was struggling to get up, looking for food.
Although I didn't know it, food was to
come from me for a long time!
Meantime work continued on mum.
Alpaca owner and trained vet nurse Sarah Frampton was assisting Donald
sew up the uterus. Then layer by careful layer of her muscle and tissue,
finishing off with a neatly stitched cut.
The vets went home, and we watched and
waited for mum to come round. Alpacas can come out of anaesthesia with
a bit of a fit and throw themselves around, so we always stay with them.
By 11pm mum and cria were both well, warm and snug in our gallery.
Mum didn't think she had had a cria, as
she took two days to pass her placenta, and her milk did not come in until
then - by which stage the cria was of the opinion we were the food source.
Despite keeping them together, rubbing the placenta on the cria and all
the usual tricks, mum and cria never bonded, and the cria became a bottle-fed
Both went back to the paddock, and Mum
healed up well. Close-up of scar some months later.
Her next cria was born naturally, and called
called the cria "The Don" after both vet Donald Arthur from Selwyn Rakaia
Veterinary Services, and the Australian cricketer who died that day.
cost ? Well, any life is worth working hard for. But in terms of the
operation, Don was a loss-making alpaca from the start.
Don is now well-known for his interest
in humans and his willingness to go anywhere and do anything with humans,
as he seems to think that he is one !
He visits old folks homes, and dutifully
walks around inside the Gallery "kissing" all the lady visitors who
come here on bus groups. And he is great for PR - already he has been on
stage, been on TV's "What Now" show, and featured in the advertisement
for alpaca duvets.
And yes, he has been wethered and response
Updated January 2009