New Born Care
Got Milk -
7-1/2 Week Premature Cria - 10 pounds!
There will probably be many who will outright disagree with what follows in this article. I do not pretend to have all the answers. But, during the past twenty years, I have found through trial and error and sometimes through sheer frustration and desperation, that these methods have worked well for me. Hopefully, this article will help those willing to try something a bit different when faced with a difficult or seemingly hopeless situation.
I have found that birthing's occur more frequently during the full moon and the new moon. More premature births or miscarriages seem to occur during storm fronts and elevated temperatures accompanied with high humidity. Whatever the method, getting these babies up and completely on their moms is our main goal.
Triple digit temperatures with high humidity for an extended period of time triggered such a birth here at the ranch last August 27th. We had a first-time pregnant mom, due October 20th. This had been a one-time breeding, so we were sure of the date. The mother, Windswept, gave birth seven weeks early, to a 10 pound baby girl.
This was an assisted birth - - the baby was weak and lifeless. We cleared the mucus from the cria's nose and throat and put her on oxygen for about half an hour. While on oxygen, we put the iodine on her navel and vigorously towel dried her. This helped stimulate her and she responded very well. Her temperature was 94 degrees. We put her on a heating pad and continued to dry and warm her with a hair dryer. A baby can be hypothermic in very hot weather - - always check their temperature! Not registering a normal temperature as yet, we wrapped her loosely in a blanket with the heating pad on medium and let her nap and warm up for about half an hour, until her temperature registered 100 degrees.
Now stabilized, we tubed two ounces of Pedialyte (for human infants) every 2 to 3 hours for the next 10 hours, changing to a baby bottle after the third tubing. At each feeding, we would try to get the baby to stand and each time we were rewarded with Fantasia, the cria, standing a little longer on her own. She was steadily becoming more alert and inquisitive.
During this time, we milked the mother and collected her colorstrum. This was a first time mother, so I applied hot compresses to her teats to help with the flow of the milk and to comfort her so she was more tolerant of me milking her. This procedure has been most successful with moms that are unwilling to let their babies nurse or are too sore to be hand milked or even nursed on. I also applied mineral oil to my fingers so as not to make her sore while milking her. After the milk was flowing nicely, I changed over to an old fashioned hand squeeze breast pump for humans. Moisten the lip of the pump that presses against the skin with water or oil to make a good suction. Press up, putting pressure on the llama and squeeze and let it draw the milk slowly into the bulb. It make take several squeezes, but when it starts to flow, it goes very well. The moms don't get as sore and it really stimulates the milk glands with a deep suction like that of a baby. Alternating now, between three ounces of colostrum and two ounces of Pedialyte, but never at the same time and at least one hour apart. Fantasia took her feedings every 2 to 3 hours apart for the next 24 hours. There were times that I did not have enough colostrum. At these times, I would substitute either canned goat milk (1/3 goat milk to 2/3 water) or vitamin D whole (cow's) milk. Both of these work wonderfully well with newborn cria's. We have used whole milk for eight years without a problem.
We have found over the years, with a compromised baby, that we have fewer problems if we do not use goat colostrum. The babies do not seem to be able to absorb such a rich substance. It must just lay in the tummy and putrefy. If this happens, you have compromised your baby even more than is necessary. Keep repeating - - less is best! Small and frequent feedings! Give Pedialyte for dehydration and energy and mom's colostrum for nourishment and some passive transfer, slowly allowing the system to handle only a small amount at a time. We are trying not to overload it. At 24 hours, we transfused. A passive transfer can still be achieved through intravenous transfusion with llama plasma. This will give the crias the protection they need until they can build their own immune system.
At each feeding, after applying the hot compresses to mom, we put the baby under mom's teats and helped her nurse. Even though she could not stand on her own for long, this helped educate both mom and baby. By the third day, Fantasia was on her mother completely, without assistance.
Post script: Out of 24 calls received concerning premature cria's, where the same methods were employed as discussed in this article, we had a survival of 23! (CLICK ON PHOTO, Fantasia, the cria born seven weeks early who is now a grown female).
We welcome visitors by appointment , call or write
Jack and Tracy Pearson:
Pearson Pond Ranch & Llama Co.
242 Llama Lane (Charles Lane), #6017
Ellijay, GA 30540
Phone: (706) 276-3658
Fax: (706) 276-3680