A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 10, 2007

There’s Nothing Quite Like Family

Filed under: Alpacas, Crias, Family — alpacalady @ 6:08 am

As our herd has grown, we have had the opportunity to observe how close-knit alpaca family groups are.  To the uneducated eye looking out over the pasture the alpacas appear to be just a random herd, but to those that know the relationship between different alpacas it is quite a different story.

We particularly notice the relationship between family members in the girls pasture.  The female crias once weaned are allowed to return to the girls pasture and during the course of the next year their dam will usually have a cria at her side.

The family groups eat together and relax together, for instance we have one group we refer to as the Bjorn family that consist of Bjorn, two of her daughters Keeva and Anya and her male cria from last fall Echo.  Typically this group are never far apart from each other, at the hay rack they are usually side by side and at night they sit together in the pasture.  Bjorn is a great dam and her crias are probably the hardest of all to wean.  When Keeva was of breeding age we sent her away to be bred, she completely surprised us upon her return when she ran up to Bjorn and attempted to nurse from her.  Naturally Bjorn was not going to allow this as she had Anya nursing from her at that stage, but it was interesting to us that despite being separated from her dam for weaning and for breeding Keeva should even make the attempt to nurse.

Today in the pasture I saw Bjorn disciplining Anya.  Anya is a large, lively girl who still has the desire to play and has a tendency to jump on Bjorn’s back if feels she is not getting enough attention from Bjorn (Note: nursing crias will often jump on their dams to get them to stand up and allow them to nurse.).  Anya has been weaned for a while now and Bjorn apparently feels it is time for the jumping behaviour to stop and neck wrestled Anya to the ground.  My bet is that a couple more times of being “told off” by Bjorn will put an end to Anya’s jumping.

More curious to me though is the more “distant” relatives who sense that they are in fact related.  Rascal and Shiimsa were both born this fall, their dams are unrelated dams but the two crias have the same sire.  Despite having other cria to play with Rascal and Shiimsa play with each other the majority of the time.  Perhaps their sire has given them similar personality traits which makes them bond more readily, I can’t say for sure, but it tickles me to see the two half-siblings hanging out together.   Even more intriguing is the site I noticed the other day when I left the farm to run an errand.  There at the end of the pasture were Rascal and Shiimsa cushed either side of their grandmother Theresa while the rest of the herd were quite a distance away.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but I like to think of it as being a case of “there’s nothing quite like family”!

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