Birthing & Cria Care



Also see : Things to have on hand

                 How to  Tube feed a cria  

Precious.jpg (34014 bytes)Llamas have a gestation length of 335 to 365 days, with 350 days as a mean. As the time of birth approaches, you may notice some, all of none of the following signs:

  • enlargement of teats,
  • relaxation and puffiness around the vulva
  • will separate herself from the herd
  • lots of moaning
  • showing more signs of discomfort, getting up and lying down frequently
  • will go to the poop pile a lot, and strain
  • not coming to the feed
  • feet or nose sticking out (sure sign)


Most birth occur during daylight hours. . If birthing at night, there could be higher incidence of dystocia ( any difficult birth is called a dystocia) - but not always.

Often the llama will show labor-like symptoms two weeks before the baby is due. She may lay down with her hind legs kicked out to the side and appear uncomfortable. The vulva will stretch and you may see its pink lining. It does not necessarily mean that delivery is imminent, but if she appears to be straining she may be in labor. Watch her closely.Birth2.jpg (25263 bytes) 

Most likely, she will begin to act normal again in a short while but is she continues to strain or if you see amniotic fluid leaking from the vulva, be prepared for a delivery.

If you have a male living with your female be sure to remove him from her pasture before she is due. He could try to breed her while she is giving birth, which could be a bad situation for mother and baby.

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  When the female starts having contraction, within a short time you should see the water sac bulging from the vulva,


followed by the nose and front feet (hopefully).

Birth4.jpg (27988 bytes)        Birth5.jpg (29332 bytes)    

 At this stages things usually move quickly and the baby should be out within 30 minutes or less.

Birth7.jpg (34024 bytes)Birth11.jpg (36256 bytes)Birth13.jpg (28627 bytes)


If it takes longer, be prepared to help .

If you have not been able to resolve the problem within 15 minutes, call the vet.

If you see the tail or back feet come out first, do not wait, call the vet immediately.

If you don't have any experience with birthing, as soon as the llama goes into labor, call the vet to see if he will be available should you need him. He could be out of town or whatever, and you need time to locate an alternate vet.

One of the most difficult decision is deciding if your llama is having a difficult birth and needs help. It is sometimes hard to figure out if the llama is really in labor, let alone figuring out is she is having a dystocia.

After the mother has given birth, make sure she passes her placenta. She will usually do so within the hour. If she has not passed it within about 6 hours, you need to call the vet. Never pull on any membranes that are hanging out, you could cause some damage.



The baby is on the ground, what to do next:

- make sure it is breathing normally - no fetal membranes covering the nose

- if not breathing right, pick up by feet and shake to get all the fluid out of the lungs

- dip navel with 7% iodine - repeat 2 more times during 24 hours

- rub baby with towel to dry

- step back and let mother take over

- baby should be up within 30 Mn (longer when it is hot)

- should attempt to nurse within a hour and be nursing no longer than within3- 4 hours

- make sure baby is not cold or laying in hot sun

- when baby is dry, weigh it to get initial weight, then weigh daily for at least a week to make sure he is gaining to 1 lb per day. Many babies lose or remain the same for the first day or two, but then should gain weight.

-observe and make sure it is nursing and that the mother has milk

- make sure the baby has passed the meconium, if not give a enema. Use a human Fleet enema, or 4-8 ounces of warm water with a few drops of ivory soap is fine too.

If the cria seems lethargic and does not make much effort to nurse or seems weak, check his temperature - should be around 100 - 102F. If it is lower, warm the baby , you can use a hair dryer or an electric blanket and rub him briskly with a towel.. Once the temperature has become normal, start feeding the baby, either mother's milk or goat colostrum. It is best if he will drink from a bottle, if not tube feed. The main thing is to get some colostrum into the baby as soon as possible.

In most instances, unless something is wrong, after a feeding or two, he will be strong enough to start nursing the mother. I usually feed the newborn 6 to 8 oz of goat colostrum at birth, it seem to give them such a jump start and it gives me peace of mind knowing they have gotten colostrum.

Within the first 24 hours of birth, the cria needs to receive a minimum of 10-15% of body weight in colostrum. So, if he is not nursing the mother, a 20 lb cria would need 32 to 48oz of colostrum.. Unless it is very weak or premature, you can feed it 8oz at a time, if not feed smaller amounts more often.

The main thing is to keep the baby warm and well fed, so he can get some energy.

Keep monitoring his temperature, sometime weak babies have a hard time thermoregulating, and can chill easily.

And no matter how weak the baby may be, NEVER GIVE UP , miracles happen every day.

Finally, the most important thing to remember when your llama begins to give birth is DON'T PANIC! Most of the time, there will be no problem. If you suspect a problem and delivery seems prolonged, call your vet immediately and have your llama put up in the barn or haltered , so as not to loose precious time.


There are times when the llama breeder will have reason to tube feed a baby llama. A reluctant mother, lack of initial milk production, a weak or orphaned baby are all reasons why you should have at least some familiarity with this procedure. The newborn must have nourishment within a short time after birth and needs to receive the all-important colostrum during the first few hours of life.

Here is a step-by-step method of safely intubating the young llama.


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Liliane Grant - Llamas of Atlanta -- Dallas, GA 30132 - USA