Diseases of the Cria

Nicole with Alpaca 1Congenital heart defects

This is one of the many diseases we see commonly.  Often, affected cria are slow on their feet, grow less rapidly than unaffected mates and are more susceptible to changes in environmental temperatures. They may live for several weeks to months in mild, stress free conditions.  However stress of any sort will often result in heart failure.

In fact, one of the most common causes of death in cria following a bout of inclement weather is congenital heart defects.  As these may be inherited defects, it is worth carrying out post mortems on cria that have died unexpectedly, particularly after a bout of inclement weather.


  • Viral or bacterial
  • Depending on the bug involved, symptoms vary from mild diarrhoea to rapid onset of lethargy and deterioration of the cria that may end in death over a very short period - treatment often requires fluids, antibiotics, and intensive nursing
  • Most common pathogen involved is E.Coli - produces a very nasty septicaemia or toxaemia.  High doses of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs in combination with fluid therapy are required to have any chance of success at all


  • Dehydration secondary to even mild diarrhoea is very common and can be severe 
  • Dehydration, energy loss and potassium salt loss can lead to rapid loss of body temperature and death 
  • Consequently affected cria may only show a brief temperature rise early in the infection
  • Provide a warm, dry environment away from other cria
  • Give oral electrolytes at 10-15% of bodyweight daily split into several feeds - the more feeds the better
  • Do not with-hold milk for longer than 24 hours
  • Try to determine the cause of the diarrhoea and treat accordingly
If using antibiotics, repopulate the intestines with normal flora after the therapy course has finished by using natural yoghurt (4ml/kg SID 5 days)



  • More accurately known as partial or completely retained meconium, this usually occurs within the first couple of days after birth - they appear to strain a lot but produce nothing.  Usually there is an obvious solid lump of faeces within the rectum.  Contact your veterinarian for assistance
  • The straining noted with constipation is often reported in adult animals.  Almost always this is associated with diarrhoea or other lower bowel irritation and not constipation.  Constipation is virtually never seen in the adult ruminant

Congenital Abnormalties

  • "Congenital" refers to something present at birth.  Because of the small gene pool these "abnormalities present at birth" tend to show up more regularly than in other commonly farmed species.  They include heart defects, facial deformities, leg deformities and umbilical hernia
  • The vast majority of congenital abnormalities are genetic in origin and for this reason we do not recommend breeding from these animals if they do survive