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Feeding Crias

Sometimes it's necessary to feed bovine colostrum to a cria if its mother doesn't have enough milk, abandons it, or the cria doesn't have a sucking instinct. It's essential that the cria receive colostrum, the mother's first milk, within 12 hours of the cria's birth. The colostrum contains disease-resistant antibodies. If you have to intervene to provide colostrum, you can use bovine colostrumor goat colostrum as a substitute. So before the cria is even born, you'll need to have some bovine colostrum stored in your freezer for just such an emergency.

You can obtain powdered bovine colostrum from most feed stores. Your cria should receive the colostrum in 4 to 6 feedings within the first 12 hours of its life. Give one pint of colostrum for every ten pounds of cria weight. For example, a 22 pound cria should receive 2 1/4 pints.

Checking Immunity Level

To ensure that your cria has enough immunity, you'll want to have the vet draw some blood and do an IGG test for immunity level. If the level is low, your vet will need to give the cria an alpaca or llama blood plasma infusion into the cria's abdomen. This sounds scary, but it's a fairly simple, quick, and painless procedure. It's a good idea to keep blood plasma in your freezer in case of just such an emergency.

Ongoing Bottle Feeding

Once you've gotten over the colostrum challenge, the real work of daily bottle feeding begins. Goat milk, if available, most closely matches camelid milk. But you can also use cow milk replacer that is readily availble from most feed stores. You'll want to buy the 25 pound bag of milk replacer, and then portion it out into 5 or 6 of the larger zip-lock plastic bags to keep out bugs.

A cria needs 8-10% of its body weight for maintenance and another 5-8% for growth gain. For example a 15 lb cria needs 1.5 lbs. If 8 lbs equals 1 gallon, then 1 pint equals 1 lb., and there are 16 oz per pint. So the 15 lb cria needs 1.5 pints for maintenance and another 1/4 pint for growth. You should divide this milk intake into 4 to six feedings per day. Your last daily feeding can be at 10PM since the cria will mostly sleep through the night.

Watch for diarrhea in you cria. Check for intestinal parasites and coccidia.

Cria Eating Schedule

Each cria is different, but they typically following this schedule:

  • Sleeps a lot the first few days and appears not not suckle much, but they are. I make the cria get up and nurse 4 or 5 times during the day.
  • 1 week old - starts to nibble and taste everything in sight -- including grass, hay, and the water bucket. What Mom eats, the cria will taste.
  • 2 weeks old, begins to taste the pellets in Mom's bowl.
  • 1 month old -- readlily forages grass and eats hay with the rest of the herd. readily eats pellets.

This page was last updated on June 10, 2009.

Able Oaks Ranch 6167 FM1857 S. Rusk TX 75785 | 903-530-1009