A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 6, 2009

Au Revoir Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Sunday saw the departure of Shiimsa and Rio from our farm.  Their new owner Terri Faver collected them so that they could start their new life at Terri’s farm, Almost Canyon Ranch in Canyon, Texas.

Shiimsa is a little bit of a nervous girl and so we gave her some Rescue Remedy to help relax her during her move and also gave both Shiimsa and Rio some MSE Probiotic and Enzyme drench to help their digestive systems adjust to the change in their surroundings.

Shortly after we had finished morning chores we loaded Shiimsa and Rio into Terri’s trailer and they were on their way.  The day was a nice cool one, ideal for traveling alpacas.  Shiimsa showed some concern by humming as we loaded her up, but what she didn’t realize was that once she arrived at her new home she would be reunited with Anya and Serenity who Terri had also purchased from us.  As far as Rio was concerned as long as his dam was there all was okay, I am sure he will miss playing with our other crias, but hopefully Serenity will feel still young enough to join in with his cria games.

What Shiimsa and Rio were also unaware of was that they will soon have access to grass pasture, as Terri has been working hard to get her pastures set up so that the alpacas can go out and graze.  Now that will make them happy!

So we said our farewells to Shiimsa and Rio, but it was really more a case of Au Revoir as we will be seeing them next weekend when we take Regent and Zin over to Terri’s ranch next weekend to breed Anya and Shiimsa.

Rosemary

June 30, 2009

Meconium Matters

 

Meconium or rather the passing of meconium from a cria really does matter, a point that was reinforced at the farm recently.

Following the birth of Shiimsa’s cria Rio all seemed well.  We found a good sized meconium plug in the pasture the following day, Rio was lively and alert and gaining about a pound a day.

The following day though Rio had a large weight gain, Shiimsa was producing lots of milk so the large weight gain was not too out of keeping with our expectations.  Rio was still looking good, running around the pasture with the other crias despite the high temperatures.  I kept and eye on the crias throughout the day for signs of overheating and was pleased to see them taking frequent breaks in the shade, napping and nursing from their dams.

At evening chores though it was apparent something was not right with Rio.  He was squatting funnily with his rear end.  I watched him, he did not appear to be straining to poop, but Rio was obviously uncomfortable.  In addition to the squatting, Rio would also hang his head down and then eventually cush – he was not a happy cria.

Having seen the meconium plug in the pasture we were dubious that a blockage from meconium was the problem, but whatever the problem was it was bothering Rio’s hindquarters.

We took Rio’s temperature and it was slightly elevated, but in a young cria even a slight elevation can be a red flag. 

Of course Rio’s problem appeared outside of the hours of the veterinary clinic, while his condition did not appear life threatening it was concerning.

Our first suspicion was that Rio perhaps despite us having found a meconium plug in the pasture Rio had retained a piece of meconium.  This would prevent him from being able to poop properly and could cause him discomfort, it might also explain the larger than normal weight gain.  We gave a shot of banamine to help keep his temperature down and to help him relax, we then gave him an enema to see if he would pass anything.  The banamine seemed to provide Rio with some relief and a little while after the enema was administered he stood up and started to strain.  First Rio passed a black thin sticky stream that did look like meconium, and then he passed a much harder lump.  This harder lump was about the size of a large peanut, but it was definitely hard and large enough to have caused a blockage.  Once that hard lump had passed Rio continued to pass what appeared to be normal fecal matter.

It took a couple of hours before Rio was looking truly at ease again, but by the morning he was back to his usual self, chasing around the pasture and nursing up a storm.

Our thoughts are that a small piece of Rio’s meconium did not pass when he passed his meconium plug.  That small piece was enough to prevent Rio from being able to pass poop and as he ran around in the heat he became a little dehydrated making that piece of meconium hard and not easy to pass. 

It is always important to monitor young crias to make sure that they pass the meconium plug; sometimes it is hard to find the plug in the pasture especially if you have long grass.  Often once the cria has passed the plug you will see some evidence of fecal matter on the crias rear, but not always.  A crias behavior can let you know a lot about how he or she is feeling which is why it is important to get to know your crias.  If a lively happy cria starts to become lethargic or uncomfortable that cria is trying to tell you that all is not well. 

We were fortunate that Rio’s problem was easily fixed, if he had not shown improvement as quickly as he did we would have called out the vet, even after hours.  Crias can deteriorate quickly when they are not well and often time is of the essence when it comes to treating sick crias.  In Rio’s case meconium certainly mattered – even if it was just a little piece causing the problem.

 Rosemary

June 26, 2009

Next Please!

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

With Queen, Chai and Rosie all having had their crias we still had Shiimsa, Ivanna, TeQueely and Willow to go. 

Shiimsa is now owned by Terri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch.  Shiimsa is one of Terri’s first alpacas and is her first pregnant dam, so Terri has been anxiously awaiting the birth of Shiimsa’s cria.  With Shiimsa being so far along with her pregnancy when Terri purchased her it was decided that Shiimsa would stay with us until after she delivered her cria.

On June 18 we thought Shiimsa was in labor and so called Terri to let her know.  Terri was able to take time off from work and come over for the day, but alas it turned out to be a false alarm and no cria arrived.

On June 21 though it was a different story.  Following chores Ric and I noticed Shiimsa stretched out beside the hay wagon.  Shiimsa typically spends a lot of her day at the hay wagon, but she rarely stayed there to stretch out or sunbathe, so to see her lying beside the hay wagon was a clue that she might have started labor.

We watched Shiimsa for a while and we could see that this time she really was in labor.  I called Terri who was taking part in a horse show that day and left her a voicemail to let her know that Shiimsa was in labor.  A short while later I received a call back from Terri, she had finished showing her horse and so was leaving the horseshow to take her horse home and then head our way.

By the time I spoke to Terri I could just about see the birthing sack starting to emerge.  Progress was a little slow, but Shiimsa is a maiden alpaca and so her body had to do some new stretching to accommodate the progression of the cria.   I decided to go into the house to collect my birthing kit, towels and other supplies, thinking I had several minutes before the cria was born.

By the time I had gathered my supplies I could see two little legs flapping around behind Shiimsa.  From her earlier slow progress Shiimsa had gathered speed and the cria was nearly fully emerged! 

I made it to Shiimsa just as her cria landed on the ground.  I moved the cria onto a clean blanket and started to dry it off and then checked to see whether the cria was a boy or a girl – it was another boy and another handsome boy at that.

Shiimsa’s cria is either bay black or black and has an unbelievably soft handle to his fleece.  His fleece is crimpy, shiny, fine and dense – what more could you ask for in such a dark male alpaca.

We knew Terri had been hoping for a girl, but once she arrived and saw her new cria she was very happy with him.  Terri already had a name picked out for him – “Rio”.
It is sometimes hard to tell the quality of a young cria, so much can change as they grow up, but little Rio is already showing a lot of potential.  Conformationally he is well put together and with that spectacular fleece I see the words “Color Champion” in Rio’s future.  If that is the case Rio will be following in the footsteps of his sire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel as well as his grandsire Dom Lucilio and his great grandsires Royal Fawn and Acero Marka’s Champ.

Shiimsa has proved to be an excellent mother; she is very attentive to Rio and gets quite distressed when he is out of her sight.  Shiimsa also has lots of milk, a great trait for a female alpaca.  I think Shiimsa has given Terri a great new addition to her alpaca herd.

Ric and I will look forward to seeing Rio grow and mature, we will be making a point to monitor this young male’s show and breeding career, but that is all in the future, for now we will have fun to watching him gallop around the pasture with the other spring crias. 

Rosemary

February 27, 2009

There’s Nothing Quite Like Good Manners

Mile High Merry Me

Mile High Peruvian Merry Me

 

At feeding time alpacas are usually not shy in coming forward, they love their feed and as you walk into the pen you are met with the jostling of the herd as they vie for the position closest to the feed bowls.  In the girls pen our Anya is always first in the queue, with Theresa not far behind.  Rosie, Shiimsa, Velvet and Willow are normally in the next “row” in the hope that they too can get their noses in the feed bowls before anyone else does.  With the junior boys I know that Zeus and Blast will make a mad dash for the boxcar as they know that they get fed in there first, while in the adult boys pen Braveheart will always be first in line, reaching over your shoulder to get the first munch on the pellets.

 

Feeding time is definitely a time of bustling alpaca energy, so when we run into the occasional polite alpaca it almost takes us by surprise.

 

Mile High Peruvian Merry Me belongs to our alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart.  Merry Me is staying at our farm along with several other of the Dart’s breeding females who came here to deliver their cria.

 

Merry Me is a well built girl and would have no problem physically shoving another alpaca out of the way should she choose to do so, but that’s the thing with Merry Me, she never would do such a thing.

 

I think Merry Me is the most polite alpaca I have ever met.  Every morning when we feed she waits until her seven pen mates have entered their feeding pen before she even thinks about entering the pen herself.  Once her feeding companions are in place, then and only then will she come forward.  If there is another alpaca standing between Merry Me and the pen entrance she will not push past them, she will either gently walk around them or wait for me to move them out of her way.  This girl really does have good manners!

 

It took us a little while to realize why Merry Me would not rush into the feeding pen as the other alpacas do.  It’s not that she is shy, it’s not that she is timid, she is just well mannered.   I’m not sure if Merry Me’s politeness is just her nature or whether her breeder taught her her manners, but what I am sure of is it is certainly nice to have such a polite alpaca on the farm.  Now if I can just get her to give some lessons in manners and etiquette to some of the others…

 

Rosemary

November 19, 2008

The Chai Family – Masters (or Mistresses) Of Distraction

 

Our alpacas never cease to amaze me with their creativity, especially when it comes to getting more food!

 

I have mentioned before how we are fortunate enough to have several family groups of alpacas.  By family groups I mean alpacas who are directly related to each other mother/daughter, sisters, even now some grandmother/grand daughters.  The more I watch the family groups the more I realize how bonded these groups become, how they enjoy each others company and have a relationship with each other that is different from the relationship they have with other alpacas in the herd.

 

Such a group is the Chai family, which consist of Chai and three of her daughters, Cinnamon, Shiimsa and Kaneka.  The Chai family has been taught by their matriarch (Chai) that humans are to be tolerated from a distance and that all food in the immediate area is really just for them, despite what the other alpacas think.  Not one of the Chai family is backward in coming forward when it comes to food.

 

When it comes to evening chore time, certain alpacas get an evening ration of alpaca pellets.  These are alpacas that have a greater nutritional need such as late term pregnant dams or growing weanlings.  Currently none of the Chai family falls under that category and so they are not on the list to receive evening pellets.

 

According to the Chai family though there must have been some mix up in the selection of alpacas who receive evening pellets.  They feel they should get extra pellets and that I am totally wrong to exclude them from the pellet feast.

 

Our alpaca girls are pretty well trained to head into their appropriate pen when it comes to feeding time.  Most of them are standing waiting in place when I walk in with the stack of bowls containing pellets.  I say most of them, because every night without fail, there, in the last pen to be fed, stand Cinnamon and Shiimsa.

 

Cinnamon and Shiimsa are clever girls, they don’t want to stand out and get noticed, so they stand nonchalantly looking around as if they are just meant to be there.

 

So every evening I go through the process of herding Cinnamon and Shiimsa out of the pen, except now they have called in reinforcements to help them with their quest – Chai and Kaneka!  As I herd Cinnamon and Shiimsa out, Shiimsa will hesitate in the gate just long enough to let Chai and Kaneka in, so for me it’s back to square one as I start to herd Chai and Kaneka out of the pen.  But wait, just as Chai is headed out, Shiimsa or Cinnamon will cause a distraction and then bingo, before I know it another member of the Chai family is back in the pen and that family member gets really sneaky and hides from view (there are 3 –4 other alpacas in the pen who are meant to be there and who provide good cover!).

 

I’m probably not describing this as well as I could, but the actions of the Chai family are more than just a casual attempt to remain in a pen with food, it is an organized effort to ensure that at least one of the Chai family outwits me!  Without fail, I just think that I have all of the Chai family out of the pen; I shut the gate and up pops a head from one of the Chai girls!

 

I am beginning to think that the Chai family are actually a highly skilled group of distraction artists, they remind me of the gypsy children in Italy who will surround you and distract you while one of them adeptly removes your wallet, or the distraction burglars who will knock on your door, keep you busy and distracted while another one of the team steals from your house.  The Chai family are skilled at their task and succeed in outwitting me most of the time!

 

I will keep insisting to the Chai family that they are not going to get evening pellets, and they, I am sure, will in turn insist that the evening pellets should be theirs!

 

Rosemary

August 22, 2008

Congratulations Girls!

 

Wednesday we made a trip to the vets with three of our pregnant girls – Theresa, Shiimsa and Queen.  The three girls have all rejected the male three times now and were between 40 and 50 days bred so we wanted to confirm their pregnancy by ultrasound.

 

Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas actually own Theresa, but we are so used to having her at the farm that we slip up occasionally and call her ours.  Shiimsa and Queen are both ours, with Shiimsa being a maiden alpaca (this is her first pregnancy) and Queen being an old hand at the art of getting pregnant.  With some of our older girls we have taken to not ultrasounding them, trusting their rejection of the male as being a sign that they are pregnant, but as Queen had recently had a tooth abscess, had been on antibiotics and subjected to having her abscess drained on a daily basis we wanted to make sure that she had maintained her pregnancy.

 

Shiimsa we felt certain was pregnant, as her behavior had changed a lot since she was bred.  She is more dominant at the feed tray and has turned into a bossy girl.   Theresa had fooled us last year,  telling us she was pregnant by rejecting the male alpacas when in fact she was not pregnant and had a Retained CL  (See post June 9, 2008 – Not Quite The Result We Expected).  Having treated Theresa for a Retained CL and bred her, we were reasonable confident she was now pregnant but didn’t want to be fooled again by her behavior.  An ultrasound would reveal if this time she were carrying a cria.

 

We started the ultrasounds off with Theresa and in a short time our vet found a very large fetus – let’s hope that it is a large girl. 

 

A very nervous Shiimsa was next but she handled the ultrasound well and again our vet quickly found the fetus.  He said that looking at Shiimsa’s fetus he felt that she was about a week further along in her pregnancy than Theresa, which is about right.

 

Queen was last for the ultrasound and decided to cush when the vet started to examine her.   Our vet left Queen cushed and started the ultrasound, but was unable to see her uterus clearly as Queen had a very full bladder which was pushing up in the area of her uterus.  We should have told Queen to visit the poop pile before we set off I guess.  Our vet’s technician then suggested that perhaps the procedure would be more effective if we could get Queen to stand up.  With a little encouragement Queen did stand up and Ric was able to support her to where she could not cush again.  The vet started the ultrasound procedure and immediately found a pregnant uterus complete with fetus – great news!  (Queen by the way gave us her usual “I told you so look” before jumping back into the trailer).

 

We were happy to have the three girls confirmed pregnant.  Theresa and Shiimsa are bred to Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel our multiple color champion herdsire, and Queen is bred to Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure, also a color champion herdsire who we co-own with Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  

 

It was good to be able to inform Theresa’s owners that they now have another cria on the way.  Theresa has always produced beautiful cria and I am sure the combination of Theresa and Zin will be a good one.  In about eleven months time we will get to see what Shiimsa and Queen produce from their breedings, it seems like a long while to wait but I am sure before we know it the girls will be giving birth!

 

Rosemary

January 27, 2008

Their First Night Alone

Last night was the night, the first time the weanlings have been away from their dams overnight.  The weather is forecast to be mild over the next few days and even the night time temperatures will be above freezing and so it was a good time to make the final break.  Often newly weaned cria will sit out by the fence line all night and that is not the best place for them to be if the weather is very cold.

The weanlings were not too concerned at first last night.  I fed them and put out extra hay for them and while they came to the gate a couple of times to see if it was open, they soon settled down to eating hay followed by a chase session around the pasture.  As time went on though the realization set in that they were not going to back to the main herd for the night.

Shiimsa of course is already weaned, and we hope that her lack of concern at being in the weanling pasture overnight will help the three weanlings feel less stressed about the event. 

During the course of the evening I checked on the weanlings, Athena and Shiimsa were in their barn eating hay, Velvet and Blast were setting together by the fence line.  Some of the main herd were sitting by their fence line where the weanlings could seem them, and if truth be known the weanlings are physically no further away from their dams than I have seen them on several other occasions.  The only difference is there are two fences on either side of the 10 foot gap between them.

When I checked on the weanlings Velvet and Blast ran up to see me, and Blast did a fair amount of “talking” telling me he wanted to go back to the main pasture.  Velvet too had some curious hums to pass onto me.

Today we will give the weanlings some more probiotic.  They are sure to be suffering with a little stress, which is not good for them or the health of their rumen.  The probiotics will help keep their rumens healthy and also contain B vitamins that have calming properties.  I might even put some Bach’s Rescue Remedy in the weanling’s water to help calm their nerves.

In a day or so the weanlings will have settled in to their new pasture and will be adapting to spending their nights together.  They will remain there until the show and then will return to that pasture for quarantine following the show.  By the time that process is all through we should be able to return Velvet, Athena and Shiimsa to the girls pasture.  Little Blast though is another matter – I may have to borrow an alpaca buddy of the same age as him to keep him company for a while until he is big enough to join the junior male herd.

And what about the dams during this final weaning process?  Well not one of them has been looking for her cria, a sure sign they were ready for the weaning process to happen.  Sorry to tell you this kids but Mom says it’s time to move out and set up home on your own!

Rosemary

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 734 other followers