You know when you go to a petting zoo and they let the little kids give the calf or piglet a bottle? And the little creature eagerly gulps the milk down and almost knocks the kid over? Alpacas aren’t quite like that to bottle feed.
With alpacas, bottle feeding requires some technique. Sometimes newborn cria need supplementation (via a bottle) because either 1)They are too weak to stand and suckle heartily enough to get enough milk, or 2)Their mom may not have enough milk. Some first time moms don’t get milk until a few days after they give birth.
Some cria will stand and allow you to bottle feed them. Others run and you have to hold them while you feed them. There are different ways to hold cria while bottlefeeding. You can kneel astride them (just don’t sit on top of them) or sit “criss cross applesauce” with the alpaca on the ground rather than in your lap exactly. I usually have my hand under the crias mouth (shown above) so that I can keep the nipple from slipping out of the cria’s mouth. This also allows me to gently put pressure on the opening of the jaw to encourage suckling from a cria who is sleepy or uncooperative. Not unlike little tricks we devise with human babies.
And, yes, the little blonde girl feeding Bennie a bottle in the top photo is the same little girl feeding Merrie a bottle in this photo.
How did that happen?