Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bottle-feeding update

We won't have to bottle-feed Lisa's cria until she's weaned! Hooray!

We may, however, need to supplement her with a bottle during the day.

The little girl began nursing on her own on Sunday night. Light bulbs were flashing that whole day, but that evening was the first time we saw Lisa stand still as the baby connected with the teat. We heard satisfying slurping sounds, and afterward, the baby refused the bottle.

We watched her nurse again on Monday morning, she refused the bottle, and she maintained her weight overnight, so we let them out into the beautiful June sunshine. Lisa hadn't quite figured out how to defend her baby from the larger cria, and sometimes wandered off to graze, leaving the little one alone, but she is a teen-aged mother. She is much better about this today (Tuesday).

The long day outside must have been quite exhausting for the little baby, though, because we discovered when we weighed her that night that she had lost 1/2 pound since breakfast! Oops. Tuesday morning, she had maintained her weight overnight, and had a marathon nursing breakfast, and refused the bottle again. We let them back out into the fields with the herd with a little trepidation.

If she loses weight again today, I will give her a bottle (if she'll take it), and call the vet in the morning for advice. She is very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and bouncy, just as a cria should be, so I am not too concerned.

Here are some things we tried to get Lisa to let the baby nurse:
  • Kept an older dam in the stall with them
  • Moved a nursing dam into the stall next to them
  • Milked the dam to stimulate Oxytocin and so we could include mother's milk in the bottle feedings.
  • Held the dam while letting the cria walk beneath her (some new dams are afraid of things under them or near their backends)
  • Held the dam while directing the cria towards the udder/nipples.
  • Expressed some of the milk from the nipples and rubbed it on the baby's nose/let her lick it off our fingers.
  • Bottle-fed only after we tried the above.
Some things that were suggested to us, but that we couldn't or didn't try:
  • put the placenta back into the stall (it was already in the freezer at this point)
  • put the dam of the new mama in the stall with them (Grandma was on another farm being bred)
This whole experience will be part of a future Paca Talk episode, to be sure. We have learned a lot since Friday night!


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