A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 16, 2007

Cooler Nights Bring Crazy Crias!

The last couple of nights have been decidedly cooler as our fall weather begins to develop.  It’s nice to feel the cool air of fall around us and watch the signs of fall – the light is softer, the sunsets a deeper orange, the leaves on the trees are turning color and as they fall from the trees are often pursued by the alpacas and llamas who love to eat leaves.

With cooler weather comes friskier animals!  Our horses are livelier, the male alpacas are enjoying more chasing and wrestling matches and then there are the crazy crias.

Healthy crias will typically get very active at dusk, they start to run around the pasture and play games with each other or even with the adult alpacas if they are willing to join in.  The evening playtime is about more than fun though; it is also about the crias raising their body temperatures to help keep them warm longer through the night.

With little Zeus working so hard to gain weight each day we have been putting a cria coat on him at night to try and prevent him from burning calories by trying to stay warm.  Even on the warmer nights he has worn his coat, and while he doesn’t enjoy me putting it on, once it is on he seems to really like it.  As he as got bigger the coat has started to get snug, and if he was showing better weight gain I would have started to leave the coat off at night, however his weight gain is still erratic so he will be wearing a coat for a while yet.

Fortunately last year I made some new cria coats, and also made little extension pieces for the belly strap.  The extensions attach to the belly strap with Velcro and mean that I can use the coats for a little longer as the crias grow.  So Zeus still gets to wear his coat and keep his calories.

Yesterday evening as I went out to check on Chai and put the coat on Zeus I could tell I was going to have my work cut out for me.  Chai was doing fine, sitting sternal and contentedly chewing her cud, but Zeus, Carissima and Blast were going crazy in the cool evening air.  The three of them were running full pelt around the pasture, screeching to a halt here and there and then tearing off again in a blur of bucking, kicking and legs running at full speed.  It was a lot of fun watching them, but a bit more of a challenge to catch Zeus and hold him still long enough to get his coat on!  I got lucky and managed to catch him as he ran towards a corner of the pasture, he grumbled at me for stopping his fun, but I was able to get the coat on quickly and then whoosh he was on his way, galloping at full speed with his head and neck out until he caught up with Carissima and Blast.    Zeus may be slow to gain weight but he’s certainly not slow at running!

Rosemary

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