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
A female alpaca
who prolapses her uterus can go on to have a normal healthy breeding life, if
you take immediate steps to assist her and protect her uterus from dirt and
occurs because the dam keeps pushing after the cria is out. Her uterus then
follows the cria.
prolapses are not common in alpaca - in twenty years alpaca breeding here at
Southern Alpacas Stud we have seen and/or been involved in only four uterine
“My alpaca has
birthed her cria and passed her placenta, and now another one is coming out” is
the general gist of the phone calls we have received.
This cannot be
discounted if twins are involved. A placenta is usually seen as a smooth object,
but the inside is textured and red. A prolapsing uterus can look like a placenta
that has turned inside out. The placenta may still be attached to the uterus.
Keep your alpaca still.
The uterus is
attached at the vulval opening only and it is a heavy weight dragging out of her
Try to keep the
alpaca calm and in one place to prevent damage to her uterus.
needs to be supported if the alpaca is moved.
Call the vet
urgently (and more people to help).
2. Protect the
uterus. Keep it clean.
This is the
inside of the uterus you are seeing – protect it for her future birthings. It
needs to be kept moist and clean. If the placenta is still attached, treat it as
part of the uterus.
Wrap or cover
the uterus with a clean sheet of preferably non-absorbing material, e.g.
plastic. Second best is a clean sheet or tablecloth. Do not use pressure.
If she sits,
put a tarpaulin or plastic or something clean and non-absorbing under her to
keep the uterus off the ground. Elevate the uterus to the level of the vagina if
you can, but not at the cost of keeping the alpaca quiet and still.
If you have to
move the alpaca, you must support the uterus. This is possible by encasing the
uterus in a plastic rubbish bag, and using strong adhesive tape under the bag
and then looped around the alpaca’s chest, stuck to the fleece. This helps
support the weight and keeps the uterus up off the ground.
3. The uterus
Putting a large
uterus back through the small vulva opening requires dexterity and people to
hold the alpaca. In this case the owners held and comforted the alpaca at the
front and a neighbouring alpaca owner, who is also a nurse, assisted the vet,
supporting the uterus. The new cria sat kushed, oblivious to the drama.
should be comfortable and quiet during the procedure, so a light to moderate
sedation may be required at this stage. This will prevent unnecessary movement
and straining. An epidural anaesthetic is often not necessary in alpacas.
The uterus is
then cleaned with tepid saline and very dilute iodine, the latter only if
necessary. This is to reduce the inflammatory response from the uterine lining.
Anti-inflammatory treatment (which includes pain relief as well) will be started
to reduce swelling caused by the prolapse and the compromised circulation of the
uterus, and to reduce inflammation of the uterus.
If the placenta
is strongly attached it is better to leave it than to tear it away from the
uterus. Proper medication to treat a retained placenta is indicated.
re-insertion can be done with the alpaca standing, or lying, depending on the
circumstances. The main thing is to have the alpaca comfortable and QUIET. On a
smaller alpaca than this large one pictured, the hind quarters were elevated to
have some gravity assistance for the uterus insertion.
vulval lips and perineum area well to reduce friction. The uterus is massaged
back through the vagina, using copious amount of lubricant, and keeping the
hands as flat as possible, to avoid perforating the uterus.
needs to be fully everted carefully. It is important that the horns of the
uterus are back in position, which may require the vet to fully insert their
4. The uterus
must be kept inside.
uterus normally doesn’t come out again after proper re-positioning.
together the vulva will keep the uterus in.
In the photo
you’ll see the bead to stop the stitches pulling through. A gap is left for
If one suspects
that the uterus is trying to come out again, as evidenced by uterine tissue in
the vagina, or maybe straining against the sutures, then this should be checked
by a vet.
A female with a uterus prolapsing inside the vagina through the cervix
will not be able to get pregnant.
administered. Oxytocin is given to assist contracting of the uterus to avoid
female’s backside, trimming back the bloody fibre and washing off the blood, to
minimize infection and fly attack.
5. Remove the
stitches a few days later.
surprised how quickly the inflammation will go down. Your alpaca should look
by the time the stitches are removed by the vet
from 2-4 days later.
6. Mate again.
recommended to wait at least three weeks before mating, because of the
inflammation. It is advisable to inspect the cervix and vagina to make sure
everything is in its proper position and healthy before attempting to mate.
Flush if infection is suspected - if the cervix is open and/or pus surrounds the
cervix when you view it through a speculum.
The females we
have seen with a prolapse have gone on to mate and birth again normally. It can
be more difficult to get the alpaca pregnant again, mainly because of the
inflammation and/or infection, not because of the prolapse itself. In most
cases, uterine prolapses do not recur, especially in younger females.
An alpaca that
keeps straining with its muscles after birthing creates the conditions for a
prolapse, especially if the uterus isn’t contracting properly. Sometimes it is
necessary to address the conditions of the inert (non-contracting) uterus by
providing the alpaca with some calcium in addition to oxytocin.
and our reading, shows some common factors around alpaca uterine prolapse.
Soft tissues get stretched in a dystocia, and may not be able to immediately
recover adequately. Oxytocin is administered to help the uterus contract,
preventing prolapse, and helping to detach the placenta and prevent infection.
internal work. Vet assisted births usually have a component in them of
prolonged deliveries, which increase the chance of uterine inertia (no
contractions), and increase the chance of infection (simply because the vet
has inserted their hand and maybe arm). Hence the alpaca needs oxytocin to
prevent the conditions for a prolapse to occur.
pulling. It is known that in assisted births of cows, where the calf has to be
physically pulled out, that the placenta and uterus may follow.
An alpaca prolapse we were involved with was from physical pulling out
of a dead cria.
NB: These photos
are of a female who had a normal birth, with no intervention, and no oxytocin.
However her previous birth, when she was a first time birther, was difficult as
she is obese, and she had a lot of internal intervention to get that first cria
Updated March 2009