I’m glad April is almost over as it’s been an emotional month on Webb Acres. Not long after bringing home our alpaca herd last December, we discovered one of our girls’ was pregnant. The white beauty with large doe eyes was soon named Prego.. As Prego’s sides bulged she strutted more slowly to the feed buckets. More recently, Prego showed little interest in grain. I grew concerned until reading in the Complete Alpaca Book that no interest in grain is a sign that birthing would soon follow. Jim Bob was able to see Prego’s utters bulging one day and our excitement grew.
For days, I witnessed the protective nature of alpacas. Except for feeding time, the herd surrounded Prego, grazing close by and surrounding her as she rested under in the shade. Wherever Prego grazed, the rest of the herd encircled her protectively. It was a marvel to see this behavior.
But anxiety overshadowed joy one evening when I noticed Prego laying by the fence unbothered by the flies settling on her nose. Skittish by nature, Prego did not seem to mind when I lightly stroked her neck. Assuming she was close, I went to bed excited but with a nagging suspicion something wasn’t quite right.
Heading outside that Saturday morning, I saw Prego laying on her side. I knew she was gone. Only one alpaca cushed (sat) close by. The rest of the herd no longer protected her.
Could we have done more? Possibly. We should have taken her to the vet but I was concerned that catching and transporting Prego to the vet would cause more stress on the cria (baby). Before birth, alpacas typically roll back and forth on their sides to position the cria for birth. We did not witness this behavior in Prego but she could have while we were working. The most likely scenario is that the cria was breached. Certainly, in the future we will be more vigilant with our pregnant girls and keep Prego’s memory alive as a reminder.
Prego’s memory is part of the reason for starting this blog. I needed an outlet to share these experiences, a creative outlet helping me process the grief. Her picture headline’s the ‘About’ page of this website. As Jim Bob and I continue to learn our animals’ behaviors, it is to Prego’s memory that we will strive to maintain a happy and healthy herd.
More on the Circle of Life in my next posting.