The Shadow Diaries part two
Shadow is now 7 months old and looking like a teddy bear.
The week before Christmas, Shadow looked like he’d eaten something he shouldn’t have. He was frothing at the mouth and dribbling. He wouldn’t drink his bottle of milk and was letting me know all was not well in Shadow Land. At that time he was having 4 feeds a day of 500ml (goats milk); the next meal and every subsequent meal he suddenly took less at each feed and was starting to lose condition. On Boxing Day, he only took 50ml and was obviously distressed, I decided to bite the bullet and call out the emergency vet. Ian duly arrived and checked him over, he was running a temperature and in a bad way. Having checked heart, lungs, stomach, Ian concentrated on his mouth. Shadow was teething!
The books say teething starts at 7-8 months old so even though I am quite an experienced breeder, I hadn’t even considered he might be teething at just 5 months. An alpaca has 12 back molars to grow, three on each side, top and bottom and, like any mother will tell you, it hurts. Their temperature goes up, they’re listless, lethargic, won’t eat, really grumpy, etc. etc. Ian gave Shadow a long lasting pain killer and it was like a miracle cure, he was straight back on his feed as normal.
Throughout January he has been eating lamb creep as a supplement and receiving less milk and this is continuing during February so that he is on the hard feed completely. The other three are also more interested in the lamb creep and I’m gradually weaning them all. It won’t be long now until they’ll be separated from their mothers and ready for the next stage.
I am often asked if Shadow is totally integrated with the herd and yes he is. Something that I find very sweet is that Iago acts as Shadow’s surrogate mum; he looks out for him and settles with him at night, checks on him if he wanders off and calls to him if he thinks Shadow is in danger.
Oberon, Orpheus and Ophelia are often seen together with Shadow like four little teddy bears all standing in a row and, knowing what to look for, I won’t over react when the others start teething.