Sunday, July 29, 2012

Close Call

When cria are shorn, one possible negative outcome is that their dam (mom) will reject them following the shearing.  The dams recognize their cria by look and by smell.  They smell the cria's top knot and tail as they push them under them to nurse.

We've never had a problem in the past, but we do try to be careful with cria shearing.  We take the cria and the dam to the shearing station.  Last weekend we had Zack hold the halter of the dam while the rest of us helped with shearing. This way the mom can see the cria go from unshorn to shorn.  We also don't shear the cria's tail or top knot.

Last weekend we had a serious scare when Jewel completed rejected Ruby.  I have never seen anything like it!  After the shearing Ruby ran over to her dam, Jewel, and Jewel walked away.   When Ruby persisted, Jewel became more obstinate, to the point of spitting and walking away.  We did all the tricks we've heard to do: rub the cria's shorn fleece all over them to give them more scent back on them.  We locked them in a paddock together so they had to be together.  We put vanilla on the dam's nose and under the cria's tail (that way the cria smells just like the dam's nose).  Ruby continued to be persistent, she sure recognized her mom, but Jewel, became more and more upset.  There was one where Jewel kicked at Ruby ~ thankfully no contact was made so no physical injury resulted, but I'm sure Ruby was completed confused why her mom, the star of her life, is suddenly being so mean to her.

We exercised patience, and every so often (an hour or so) we'd try something new to help mend that bond between them.  As it was nearing our evening chore time we had not seen Ruby nurse since before shearing that morning.  While she was up and walking and appeared fine, we considered the worse and gave her a bottle.  She fought it at first, and I've heard many alpaca farmers say they won't take a bottle if they are nursing at all.  But we didn't want to head into night time without more food in her.  After some coaxing, she did take the bottle.  A couple hours later she eagerly took another.  I was considering that we had a bottle cria on our hands.  Somewhere in there we noticed she was nursing again.  We kept an eye on it, yet offered another bottle at bedtime.  She wouldn't take any of that one.  She was back to nursing on mom and all was well with the world again.

I was hesitant to say anything about this last weekend, even after Ruby was nursing again, because I was so scared it wouldn't last.  But here we are to the next weekend and all is good, as if it never happened.

I do have to say that rejection was nothing like I have ever witnessed.  Horrifying to the cria, and I think scary for the dam who is annoyed by this mystery cria that won't leave them alone.  I did find it interesting that Jewel didn't seem to be looking for Ruby or even mourning the loss of her.  She was so fixated on chasing this unknown mystery cria away it was like that was all she could focus on.  I knew this before but having seen it first hand I know it even more: I hope we never have to face total cria rejection.


Linda said...

Glad it turned out well.

A Country Chicken said...

How terrible! Poor Jewel, but poor Ruby! I am happy that they reunited, I wonder what happened that Jewel suddenly started nursing her again?

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