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DYSTOCIA - Difficult Birth, Malpresentation



This is the story of a strong, healthy and experienced breeding female, who has experienced Dystocia (difficult birth) with her fourth cria.

The Australian Alpaca Association Alpaca Note 3, states .... "In alpacas the Dystocia rate is low (2%-5%) but in such cases, immediate assistance is generally required. Most Dystocias are due to abnormal presentation or position of the foetus in the uterus. Dystocia may also be caused by maternal reproductive problems such as infection, poor nutrition or obesity where excess fat in the birth canal reduces the area for the foetus to pass through. The dam (or mother) may become exhausted after prolonged unsuccessful efforts to deliver the foetus. Shoulder/elbow flexion is the most common Dystocia. Deviations of the head and neck are difficult to correct due to the long neck of the foetus. Backwards (hind legs presented first) or breech presentations (buttocks and backbone jammed against the birth canal) are serious Dystocias and require veterinary assistance."


- During my morning feed-out routine at 6.30am, I found Lawanda with 3 feet protruding from her vulva! She is a quiet and easily managed girl, who allowed me to touch the feet of the cria which were ice cold on a warm morning - so I was reasonably sure the cria was dead at this stage. I brought in help, I held her, whilst my husband gloved/lubed up and went on a discovery mission internally to see what was happening. He immediately found that all 4 feet where present at the vulva opening - so the cria was mal-presented. He pushed the cria feet back in and went feeling for the shoulders to find the to front feet - as they all look like front feet when presented with 4! He started pulling what he thought was the front feet forward and out, only to find that the head and neck were bent way too far back in the chest cavity of the female and he was unable to turn or pull it out. The Vet was called, who advised me to give a Hexasol shot (long acting antibiotic with pain relief included) immediately so that she would be comfortable when he arrived and infection control was activated.
- The Vet arrived 30minutes later. He felt the cria was dead as he could not feel a heart beat. 45 minutes later he had managed to pull the cria out - having to use a rope to slip over the head of cria and pull it around, only to find that what he and my husband thought were the front legs out, were actually the rear legs! So back they went and the Vet went into find the front ones to finally get this cria out.
- Sadly when the cria hit the ground it had a heartbeat, but eyes were still. Although I tried to resuscitate the cria - it was to no avail as I could only keep the heart beating and not get the cria to breath for itself. It was of course a brilliantly shiny, light fawn Suri female, weighing 7.22kg (6.5-8.5kg normal) born at 335days (335-355 normal).
- Attention back to dam, she was amazing - hardly made a sound throughout the experience, got up and walked away when the cria was out, not giving a concern for it at all ... she knew it was not viable.
- Vet instructed me to give her an Oxytocin shot (hormone) to get the placenta out in 2.5hrs time, which I did. By 4pm there was no placenta, although she was in labour and visiting the poo pile trying to push it out since a few minutes after being given the injection. The Vet approved a second dose of Oxytocin. He also recommended that I start her on Penicillin - full adult dose, administered morning and night and said to give her another pain relief shot daily for the next two days, a total of three days altogether.

- 6.30am, still no placenta but she was still in labour - there was about 10cm of placenta hanging from vulva. Vet approved a 3rd dose of Oxytocin and advised me to try and gentle pull the placenta out - which I did, but it was breaking down in my hands and I only got out what was protruding and nothing further.
- 4pm, still no placenta - but another 20cms was hanging from vulva, which again I pulled away. Vet approved an Estramil shot (stronger hormone) - which put her into full labour.

- 6.30am, I found about 1/2 of the placenta out. She was still in labour and pushing. Vet advised to leave her now - that it will continue to come out in small amounts and some of it will be reabsorbed, but to make sure I continued her on morning/night Penicillin shots for 10days.
- She was very smelly now and covered in flies - so I am spraying her vulva with Chloromide and her with fly repellent from head to toe both morning and night.
- She is looking exhausted and unhappy, I'm worried that I could loose her now.

- Still spending most days at the poo pile trying to expel the placenta that remains inside. Still looking very sad and uncomfortable.

- Looking much more comfortable today. Still expelling small amounts of placenta, but no longer smelly and the flies leaving her alone.

- Looking great, thinking she will be fine now, remarkably still expelling small amounts of placenta.

- Looking normal again. Eating, drinking and socialising well with the herd.

- Completely recovered. She will remain in the maternity paddock now to recover from this difficult birth for a couple of months and we will not remate her for 6 months to give her time to rest and recover.

- Interestingly this was her fourth cria. The last cria went to 375 days gestation (335-355 normal), a 10.5kg black Suri male, stuck in the birth canal, head and legs protruding, but so big that she couldn't deliver it! The Vet was called in on this occasion too, who had to dislocate the shoulders of the deceased cria to remove it from her. Prior to this Lawanda had a black Suri male and then black Suri female - both on time, normal weights and normal deliveries!
- We have decided to not remate this girl for 6mths as we feel that perhaps she was not healed enough from her last birth which could have impacted on this birth. We only gave her 3mths rest with her third cria.
- Fortunately we had enough drugs and equipment on farm to manage this animal prior to the Vet arriving and also to deal with what happened afterward. This of course is only granted as we have our Vet visit farm monthly to do ultrasounds and assess any animals under treatment at that time.

21 Mar 13

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