A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 15, 2008

Watching and Waiting For Willow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:01 am

Willow our escapologist alpaca is looking most definitely pregnant, Ric described her the other day as a little butterball as she almost looks as wide as she is long!  Willow is not a very big alpaca; she takes after her dam Clarissa who is on the small side.  Being small and having a short body does mean that for both Clarissa and Willow their pregnancies show earlier than some of the longer bodied alpacas.

As I have watched Willow’s “bump” grow, I have started to wonder if she is expecting a large cria and if so if she is going to be able to deliver without any problems.  She is maiden and so has not delivered a cria before so I hope that the delivery of her cria will be routine without any problems.  But something has been nagging me about her looking so big, we have other females due before her and even allowing for their body style they still do not look as advanced in their pregnancy as Willow does – and then it struck me, maybe I anticipating the wrong due date.

This really came to mind when I was pulling up Willow’s records the other day.  I had previously run a due date calendar from my Herdlogic software where we keep all the alpaca records and it showed Willow due in June 2008.  While I was looking up some show record information on Willow I checked her breeding records too and those records refreshed my memory as to what happened with Willow during last year’s breeding season.

Willow actually bred three times, the first breeding was one of the earliest ones we did for our herd and was to our Junior Herdsire Trevasura’s Altiplano Treasure.  Willow had cushed readily when introduced to Treasure and the breeding seemed to go well, but during one of the following behavior tests several weeks later she cushed again.  We bred Willow at that time to our herdsire Tobiano and again all seemed to be going well until during one behavior test she cushed again.  We rebred Willow to Tobiano and this time each subsequent behavior test resulted in Willow rejecting the male.  Based on those observations we based Willow’s due date on that last breeding.  Now though I am beginning to wonder.

Simply put, during a pregnancy it is the hormones in the female alpacas system that make her unreceptive to the male alpaca.   What happens though if those hormones are not produced to the necessary levels to instigate that behavior, or if perhaps the female alpacas brain does not recognize those hormones as it should.  Well then you could get a maiden female alpaca that would breed again despite being pregnant.

At this stage it is hard to tell if that is the case with Willow or if she is just carrying a large “bump” during her pregnancy.  We have heard of other alpaca breeders who have had maiden females who breed after being pregnant and then get a cria too early for the latter breeding date.  Once the cria is born the breeders realize that the cria is a result of the first breeding. 

For now all I know is that Willow is definitely pregnant, when she has her cria will perhaps give me a better idea of when she conceived the pregnancy.  Having used two different sires on Willow will also help us determine when the cria was conceived as when we submit the crias blood sample to the Alpaca Registry, Inc. for DNA testing they will let us know which is the correct sire.

I will keep a close eye on Willow in the coming weeks, if the first breeding date was the successful one she could have her cria as early as April, so we need to be prepared in case that is when the cria is born.  All we can do in the meantime is watch and wait, in time nature (and Willow) will give us the answer.

Rosemary  

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