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Posey was lying on her side, twitching one of her rear legs. I’d seen that motion, though less pronounced, the day before as well. She still had several days until her second baby was due, and I wondered if the baby was moving into position.

When I glanced out a few minutes later, it looked like a stick was stuck in the wool on her back leg. Or was that the cria’s leg? I called to Kelly, “I think the baby’s coming! And it looks like a dark leg!” Both front legs and the head were out by the time we ran outside. Posey allowed herself to be haltered and led into the barn. I placed a large beach towel behind her just seconds before the baby slid out. What beautiful markings! We had a bay, with black head, feet and lower legs and a reddish brown body. There was no white at all. This from an appaloosa father and a brown and white mother!

We were hoping for a female, but the cria was a male. My disappointment was mild, though, in my delight over the enchanting little llama and his easy birth.

Juliet’s first birth at our ranch, a male, had been stillborn a few weeks after Dancing Cloud’s birth. I had known the moment I saw the inert form of the half-born cria that it was dead. The vet could find no reason; he estimated that the baby had been dead about a day. We made sure that Juliet saw the baby before it was taken away, but for days afterward she seemed to be looking for it. She was an experienced mother, having already had two babies before we acquired her. We bred her to Levi, but she wasn’t due for many months.

Now here was this charming little fellow, shivering a little despite the hot midday temperature. Soon he was up. He didn’t start nursing immediately, as Dancing Cloud had done the summer before. I made a couple of attempts to position him by Posey’s teats. We milked out all four teats, to make sure they weren’t plugged up. The little guy was standing up by the barn wall, trying to nurse under the two by four that ran along it at my waist height. He sat down. Posey sat down next to him.

By late in the afternoon, we still hadn’t seen any nursing. Kelly tried pushing the little guy’s head onto Posey’s teats, but the baby paid more attention to being pushed–which he didn’t like–than to the teats just inches from his mouth.

By evening, I was quite worried. “How long do we have to get the colostrum into him?”I asked Kelly.

“I don’t know.”

“I remember hearing at conferences that it’s very important to get something into the little ones in the first few hours.” The cria had plenty of energy but I still thought the situation could suddenly turn. He needed the colostrum from his mother, with its antibodies that would protect against disease.

I phoned the breeders I usually turned to for advice, but none of them were home. Finally I reached someone.

“Oh yes, you’d better milk out the mother and get the colostrum into the baby right away. Do you know how to tube feed?”

“No. I saw it demonstrated once, but it was a couple of years ago.”

“Then give the baby a bottle. And keep the mother and baby together in a stall or something.” We did have a bottle with an appropriate nipple in our birthing kit. I thanked her and went back to the barn, hoping that the baby had nursed in the meantime. He hadn’t. By now we were taking turns sitting in the barn, keeping an eye on things.

2 Responses to “10: In a Hot Barn”

  • Rosana says:

    Carol, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I truly do not know what you could have done to save her. We had a stillborn baby llama once and reading your comment brought tears to my eyes. It can be so hard.

    For the future, see if you can make friends with some people, preferably in your area, who have llamas. If not in your area, the phone and the internet are great. It has been so long since we had llamas that I no longer feel qualified to give much advice.

    Best wishes,

  • Carol says:

    We had a little baby llama and the mom wouldn’t have any thing to do with it. I did not know what to do we had only raised mimi goats and the were no problem we went to the dtor and got clostrum for a got and it said for horse’ and llamas too the baby took the mild and for two to three days she did well then she started to loose weight, we took her her to the vet and he told us it was hard to raise a llama without its mom a week latter little Abbie died in my arms. what could we have done to save her?

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