The Cria Was Early, The Vet Was Late

August 23, 2010

This is not a good day here on the farm. 

But before I tell this, let me first say if you feel the need to tell me all the things I did wrong, I really don’t want to hear it.  I can castigate myself very nicely thank you.  And I’ve already heard from one person this week chastising me for opening an incubator a crack to take a 20-second video of a peachick hatching.  Never mind the video is two years old and those peachicks are all grown and out running around in the aviary.  But this person “hatches a lot of chicks” and felt compelled to tell me what I was doing was WRONG.

Maybe so.  I’m not perfect.  I try to do the best I can, and give my animals the best care I can.  Let’s face it, our little farm isn’t a money-making proposition, in fact, quite the opposite.  What we’ve got here is a lot of pets.

And my very special pet llama lost her cria this morning. 

We’d already decided that no matter how this turned out, we wouldn’t breed her again.  If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ll no doubt remember that she lost her first cria.  The baby presented wrong, was pretty big, difficult to pull out even for a well-muscled and experienced vet, and didn’t make it.

However, both the vet and books I read on llamas said that was likely a “one time thing.”  Llamas are supposed to be some of the easiest livestock for birthing, with maybe 5% having problems.  And usually a problem like that is a once off sort of thing, and not repeated. 

5%.  Usually.  Well, the statistics don’t mean much if you’re in the 5% and not in the what “usually” happens group.

The very earliest due date possibility for our girl was September 27th, but yesterday afternoon I noticed she wasn’t moving around a lot.  I kept checking on her, but nothing seemed to be happening. 

However, our midwife Neffie (our Maremma sheepdog) was sticking close by, and that made me suspicious something was happening. She always sticks close to mamas giving birth, whether they are sheep, goats or llamas.  So even though I never happened to feel a contraction when I kept my hand on the llama’s belly, and even if there wasn’t anything happening at the “back-end”, and it was way too early….  I had to wonder if something was going on we couldn’t see. 

I got up several times during the night to check on the llama.  She was munching hay, she seemed contented, she didn’t seem in distress.  Still nothing going on that showed a baby might be imminent.  But I’d already decided as soon as the vet’s office opened, I was calling.

That’s what I did, too, but between the time I called and the vet finally wandered in an hour or more later, the baby started to come.  Too early, too early!  And in the wrong position, headfirst and no feet.

The vet repositioned the baby and pulled it out, but it was tiny.  It was already gone.  It’s possible it died and then she went into labor.  There’s no way of knowing exactly what happened.

What I DO know is that’s it, we’re done.  The male llama will be sold to be absolutely sure there is no chance she’ll get bred again.  (Gates or fences do get broken down or accidentally left open.)

It’s easy to say now we shouldn’t have bred her again.  It’s easy to say maybe I should have called the vet earlier, though he seemed to think it wouldn’t have made any difference.  The baby was too small.  It’s easy to think of all the things I should or shouldn’t have done differently.

But I can’t change it.  This is real life, not a video game with a reset button.  All I can do is grieve with my girl, and we already had a good cry with me hugging on her neck and telling her how sorry I was…

And all we can do is NOT do this again.  Once is “too bad” and twice is “too much.”  Three may be a charm, but no way we’ll chance it.  I won’t put my sweet llama OR us through this again.

So much for a cute baby llama on the farm.

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