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The Birth of An Alpaca

An alpaca birth usually occurs in the morning with some birthing in the early afternoon.  It is rare that a dam will birth in the evening.  It is felt that births that come later in the day may indicate some sort of difficulty.  Prolonged labor may require human intervention to reposition the cria.  Breeders can take one of the many neonatal courses offered across the country.  This will provide them with the skills necessary to assess the birthing process and determine whether intervention by themselves or a vet is necessary.

Indicators that an alpaca may be nearing her due date are the formation of an udder, excessive humming and frequent visits to the dung pile.  A female will also exhibit restlessness and will continually get up and down.

Usually the cria is born with the dam standing (as shown below), but occasionally they will birth lying down.

birth 1a
birth 1b
birth 1c
birth 2

In the normal presentation, the nose pops out either first or simultaneously with the two forefeet on either side of the head.

birth 4 birth 7

birth 9birth 12

Alpacas do not lick their crias, as other species of animals often will, dams simply smell their crias to recognize their scent, and will continue to use scent to identify them even 6 months later when their cria comes to nurse.  The cria’s toenails are covered with a rubbery, cartilage like material, which serves to protect the mother's uterus from the kicks of her cria as she carries it in utero.

birth 13birth 16

birth 19birth 20

Crias are usually walking within 45 minutes and nursing within 2 hours.  It is critical that they nurse as soon as possible.  In the first hours after delivery, the mother produces a thick milk called colostrums that is full of nutrients and antibodies that are important for the cria.  It is very important that the cria gets these antibodies through colostrums or a blood plasma transfusion within 8 hours after birth.  After that time period, the cria become increasingly less likely to absorb the antibodies.  Most often, you are able to observe the cria nursing within minutes to hours after birth and no intervention is needed.

birth 21birth 22

birth 23

Usually, within two hours after the delivery, the dam will deliver the placenta.


David and Judi Howard

82 Benn Hill Rd

Hodgdon, ME  04730

Cell (207)521-4551


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