When Crookwell Veterinary Hospital was established back in 1982, it’s pretty safe to say there was not one alpaca or llama in the district. Today these camelids form a thriving and important part of our work. CVH staff not only have knowledge and expertise in camelid diseases and management, they enjoy the challenges these wonderful creatures bring to the practice.
Llamas and alpacas often need a different medical and surgical approach to most of the animal species vets routinely treat. Gaseous anaesthesia in particular presents problems and this is a real challenge when surgery is required. When intubated and connected to an anaesthetic machine, their very long necks create a large “dead space”, leading to a potentially fatal combination of increased carbon dioxide and insufficient oxygen flow.
When Rosie Francis of Maison Mauve Llamas and Alpacas at Taylors Flat presented CVH vets with one of her prized breeding llamas unable to give birth after prolonged labour, our vets first examined Trinket to manually extract the cria (baby llama).
It became obvious a caesarian section under anaesthesia was the only option and on 11 March 2014, they delivered a live female cria. The cria – now called Jade after our vet Jayde Watling! – required intensive, constant care over the next 4 days, including bottle feeding every few hours, until she was strong enough to stand and drink from her mother at 5 days of age.
Rosie says she is still “pinching herself” following the successful caesarian – a rarity in camelids. While twelve year old Trinket had always given birth without intervention, the caesarian delivered her first female offspring, and the first cria for Totem, Rosie’s young stud llama.
Jade has continued to thrive and grow, and mother Trinket’s wound healed routinely.