Alpaca Nutrition News
Feeding the underweight or
Crias may have weight-gaining issues for several reasons:
- They are premature
- They did not get enough colostrum
- The dam is a maiden
- The dam is an older, underweight female
- The cria is an orphan
- Difficult and/or prolonged birth
- Chronic diarrhea
- The dam's nutrition is inadequate to support
- Udder infection or blockage of teats
- Milk theft by other crias
- Congenital disease
Most of the above factors can be treated, prevented, or
anticipated. The best way to insure a good lactation, and thriving crias, is to
gradually increase the dam's nutrient intake during late gestation and through
the first several months after birth. It is very difficult to get an underweight
female to gain weight during lactation. If she loses weight that is not replaced
before the next birth, the loss can become cumulative and she will eventually
have difficulty either maintaining a pregnancy or providing adequate milk.
In the case where the cria is born underweight, despite
taking these precautions, here are some suggestions"
- Supplement the dam's colostrum with cow's colostrum
before the end of the first three days of life. This can be given by bottle,
or by stomach tube, if the cria is uncooperative.
- Supplement with bottle-feeding when the dam does not
produce adequate milk
- Control diarrhea by feeding pectin (liquid or dry)
diluted in supplemental milk. Bottle-fed crias often develop diarrhea.
Pectin also increases IgA and IgG production.
- Supplement both the dam and the cria with MSE paste
or drench. The drench can be added to bottles and top-dressed on feed. MSE
paste, but not drench, contains pectin. MSE increases IgG.
Underweight crias may have impaired immune systems. This
makes them more susceptible to even minor infection. MSE can improve both weight
gain and immunity, and improve lactation performance.
Attempts to increase cria weight must include the dam, if possible.
MSE is available at
www.naturs-way.com, or by calling 800-615-0299, 8:30 am - 6:00 pm, M - F.
Please send questions or comments to ruminant nutritionist, Lark Burnham, Ph.D.
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