Cria Milk Supplementation
Most crias require 8-10% of its body weight for maintenance and another 5-8% for growth and gain. For a 15-pound cria, 10% of its body weight = 1.5 pounds. If 8 pounds equals 1 gallon, then 1 pint equals 1 pound and there is 16 ounces per pint. Thus, 1.5 pounds (10%) equals 1.5 pints equals 16 ounce per pint (16 + 8 = 24 ounces) for maintenance. This is the total sum need for daily maintenance per the alpaca’s body weight. Thus, the initial formula is 1.6 oz of milk x body weight. Divide this number by equal feedings (4-5) per day for a healthy cria or every 2-3 hours (2 to 3 ounces) in a smaller premature cria.
Many crias will do little more than hold their own weight at this level and another 5% may be necessary for satisfactory gain. All formula additions should be gradual. For example, increase 1% every 3 days in divided doses on the way to 5% above maintenance. That could mean another 20 ounces divided into 4 to 6 feedings. Hopefully, night feedings (after 10 pm and before 6 am) can be eliminated after 7 to 10 days. This should be satisfactory since crias do not normally nurse at night. The cria should be weighed every 48 hours at the same time each day and the weight recorded. Babies should gaid ¼ to ½ lb per day. Weighing should be done for at least 2 weeks and then two times weekly thereafter. Start offering a cria grower ration by 2 to 3 weeks of age along with good, green, leafy grass or alfalfa leaves (no stems). The goal is to be off of substitute milk by 8 weeks of age. A typical formula and schedule for an 18-pound cria might be 32 to 36 ounces divided into 5 to 6 feedings the first week. One feeding may be cut every 7 to 10 days, while increasing total volume until weaning at 8 weeks. While feeding is going on, the cria should be left with other alpacas and, ideally, crias of its own age group for bonding. Hopefully, a granny alpaca will be available where the cria can steal a little extra nutrition.