We could use many prayers and positives thoughts for our 2 month old cria, Cheyenne, she is very sick.
First, let me say this has nothing to do with our shearing her (my last blog post). She was actually shorn last weekend, July 17 (as noted by the date stamp on the pictures). I just didn't have a chance to post about it with everything else that went on at our farm this past week. We've always had our cria shorn and while sometimes there can be problems following that (such as their mom rejecting them), that was not the case here. We saw Cheyenne go to her mom right after being shorn and nursing. We've seen her nurse all week long. No problems were noticed until this Saturday, a week after she was shorn.
I'll post the story in case anyone has any additional suggestions we haven't thought of. We know very little of what is going on with her, we have never seen anything like this.
Saturday morning I fed the alpacas like I usually do. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. J later asked me if Cheyenne ate, which I do remember her and her mom sharing their bowl of grain. J had worked overnight so he was sleeping all morning. When he got up in the early afternoon, I went to take a nap because I was not feeling well. It's pretty rare for me to nap, but I took a 2 hour nap. I do remember waking up in the middle of the nap because J walked through the bedroom on his way to sit on our alpaca observation deck. I was so tired I fell back asleep.
When I got up from my nap, J asked me if Cheyenne was ok. I thought he was being paranoid after our loss earlier this week, but explained that I saw her at feeding time this morning and she was fine. He felt like something wasn't right because Cheyenne's mom, Tehya, was out eating hay and Cheyenne wasn't. He had a bad feeling, so he went out to find Cheyenne. He found her alone in the barn, laying strange and breathing very shallow.
We took her temp, it was low, so we put her in a cria coat to warm her up. We tubed her to get fluids into her. J gave her other medications, but I admit, it was all in a flurry of activity and I don't remember everything. We put her in a pen with just her mom, which is when we realized fully that Tehya has rejected Cheyenne. She wouldn't feed her. We milked Tehya and bottle fed Cheyenne (the fact Tehya still had milk gave us hope this rejection hadn't been for long). At one point Cheyenne laid on her belly on the ground and it was as if she was crying, she made this most awful sound. I have never seen anything so heartbreaking. Another time Cheyenne walked over to Tehya and laid next to her, but then seemed to breathe so shallow I thought it was going to be the end. What a powerless feeling to see a baby struggling and have absolutely nothing else we could do.
J went to the store and got more medications (I believe an enema and mineral oil since he suspected a blockage). And he got ingredients so that we can bottle feed her. We couldn't get a vet out due to the fact our vet has an on-call system where other vets that know nothing about alpacas are on duty.
By this point her temp was back up to the normal range. She pooped and peed. And started to walk around. We let her and Tehya join the herd since they seemed to want to. Things were looking up.
As the night went on, Cheyenne looked more and more grim. She laid around, and we found herd mates would sniff her, then walk away. It was as if there was something they could smell that told them she was sick. I noticed that while Tehya would not feed Cheyenne, she kept in view of her. I think Tehya knew something was wrong, but didn't know how to help. At one point J went inside to get a shower, and that was when Cheyenne walked by herself back to the barn, alone. When J came back I knew he wouldn't like that sign, and he went to go get Cheyenne. He said she was again laying alone in the barn breathing very shallow. He brought her back to the herd and shut off the barn. We had fed her, gave her medications and done everything we have heard and read we should do. There was nothing else we could do at this point.
We went to bed with heavy hearts. We both had a horrible feeling Cheyenne wasn't going to make it through the night, we were bracing ourselves (and our kids) for that. We planned to be up every few hours to feed Cheyenne a bottle. I still was not feeling well, and J couldn't sleep due to worry, so he ended up being the one to go out there for the midnight feeding. He said the first time he went to feed her, she kept running off with her mom. He said this was the best sign yet. Cheyenne was healthy enough to run, and she was with her mom. The next time he got up to feed her, he wasn't sure he would find her alive (since by this point she missed a feeding, if Tehya didn't feed her she would be very weak). She was alive, and he was able to feed her. Cheyenne made it through the night.
I'm getting ready to go feed her the next bottle in just a bit. While she is alive yet, she is just laying there, on her side (not the typical cushed position) not playing or eating on her own. She looks like she is in a daze. Her best buddy, Thunder, is cushed near her:
Sunday Mid-afternoon update:
She is still hanging in there. We've gotten her a take a few bottles (though it's taken some coaxing). We've given her two doses of mineral oil (once last night and again today). We believe she has a bowel obstruction, most likely due to sand. If so, the mineral oil should push it out. I've seen her poop and pee, so she is not getting dehydrated. We aren't sure if the poop is actually going through yet or if it was stuff that was left in her system. She has times she looks a bit better, walking and drinking water, but other times she cushes and stares off into space. She won't nurse off her mom (though mom has tried to encourage her), so we are bottle feeding her. She isn't eating any hay, and has no desire to eat. It's still pretty touch and go, but she's better this afternoon than how we found her yesterday afternoon.
Monday mornings update:
Rest in Peace ~ Cheyenne
I'm very sad to report Cheyenne did not make it through the night.
It's all so sad. It doesn't help that little guy passed away only a few days ago. This can go down in the record book as the worst week for our farm. I do want to assure everyone that alpaca farming is not usually like this. I've been reflecting on our blessings, as a friend reminded me, our farm has been greatly blessed. But as with nature, there is the good and the bad. Right now we've been hit hard with the bad, but I know there's more good to come.