Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Llamas, gestation and crias!

After the drama of young Tilly, we are now waiting patiently for Lima, our other female to give birth, and in my basic estimation she was due on or around 7/8th August. Today is the 11th, and so we are a few days late!

Camelids are induced ovulators, which means they only shed eggs only in response to mating. They don't have seasons like most mammals. Ovulation takes place 24-48 hours after mating. We had our stud running with the female which makes the precise calving dates very difficult to determine!

According to my book "Storey's Guide to Raising Llamas", once a llama has calved it can be 7-14 days before she produces an egg (and is ready to produce one every 10 days thereafter). Gestation is 11.5 months, although it is not unusual for a female to deliver 2 weeks premature or to carry her pregnancy to a full 12 months.

So, if we work backwards, Cusco, her last cria was born on 15th August 2008, 7 days later is 22nd (her earliest date for ovulation) and a normal term of 11.5 months should mean that she is due on or around the 7/8th. But she could take another 7 days to ovulate, so she could give birth on 14/15th and she could run a full 12 months which could be anything up to 28/29th or anything in between.

Mind you, it has been known for a llama to gestate for 13 months! Let's hope not!

Now, you'd think that there would be some signs, well there may be - some females show signs as early as 6 weeks ahead of time, others don't exhibit any signs until just before delivery. Just our luck, I think we have one of those!

Llamas are generally easy, and need little help during birthing, a little cleaning up after is all.

They are also very considerate, and generally give birth during the day, Clara had hers about 10am, and Lima had hers last year at about 2.30pm. This is because in the Andes where they originate from it can be very cold at night, so having the cria in the sun enables them to be up and about, dry and ready to run in case of trouble in the dark, not that the last bit is a problem in North Devon!

So, thank you to all who have asked, we are still waiting, and don't worry, pictures and news will be posted as soon as possible after it happens!