A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 3, 2008

Protecting Our Assets From The Weather

Keeva wearing a fleece coverThe spring alpaca shows are rapidly approaching.  The cria class of 2007 has been put into training and is making good progress.  It is interesting to learn more of each cria’s personality as I work with them.  Athena is the thinker of the group and a little headstrong, Velvet is carefree and obliging, Blast is the most insecure about the process flipping his tail in submission and then running to Clarissa to nurse after his session is complete.  In the younger crias Carissima is not quite sure what the purpose of all this halter training is but goes along with it anyway, Kanika seems to enjoy the experience and Zeus is very obliging until there is food around and then he becomes distracted.

For Shiimsa the spring shows will be a continuation of her show career and most likely she will be bred after shearing and then taken off the show string.  Shiimsa does well on the halter but I am including her in my halter training group to refresh her memory and also to provide some stability to the younger alpacas in the group.

With halter training well on its way we decided that we would introduce the show string to their fleece covers.  Fleece covers are a little controversial in the alpaca show world; to us they protect our beautiful fleeces from our relentless winds and fine red dirt.  If we lived in an area with lush green pastures and gentle weather I would most likely not be too concerned about fleece covers, but the elements are against us where we are and so we do use them.  At the end of the day the fleeces that have been protected by the fleece covers are much more desirable to the processors and easier for us to prepare for processing than if the fleeces had been left exposed to our weather and soil.

We do not cover our fleeces year round, but usually put them on in the fall (we’re late this time around!) and remove them after shearing.  The alpacas then go without covers until the following fall.  For newborn crias I leave the fleece covers off until they are at least 30 – 40 lbs.  I don’t want to interfere with the bonding process of the dams and their crias, and I also feel that crias need to run around in just their fleece at least for the first few months of their lives.

The first day of wearing their fleece covers can be a little stressful to the crias, they don’t understand what this thing is on their backs and they have to get used to the feeling of the leg straps.  We keep a very close eye on them as they adapt to life with a fleece cover.  Very occasionally you will get one that just cannot accept the cover and is completely bothered by it, for those crias it is not worth the risk of keeping the cover on and we remove it.  The majority of the crias though settle down after a short while and go back to their usual daily routine.

So with their covers having been put on the crias were allowed a day off from halter training school.  One day off most certainly won’t hurt and by the time school resumes the crias will be used to their covers and able to focus on halter training again.


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