A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 17, 2009

Preparing for Baby

It’s interesting to watch our pregnant dams as they get closer to the end of their pregnancy.  Their pregnant bump grows larger and often changes shape as the cria repositions itself during the day.  Sometimes the cria looks to be all on one side, other times the cria looks as if it has dropped right down in the dams abdomen and at the very end of the pregnancy the cria looks as if it is about to pop out of the dam at any moment as it stretches its legs causing movement at the base of the dam’s tail.

Some dams, such as our Queen, develop a voracious appetite and seem to spend their day constantly eating.  Others slow down their eating, delicately nibbling here and there and taking their time to chew their cud often.

When the weather is warm we often find our heavily pregnant dams parked in front of the fan.  The extra weight of the cria they are carrying generates more body heat and they need the opportunity to spend time in a nice cool spot.

We often notice that our late term dams “pick their spot”.   They will spend more and more time in one particular spot in the pasture, often an area a little way from the rest of the herd.  This spot usually ends up being where they go to when they start labor.  Alpacas don’t “nest” as such, but they do seem to find comfort in being in that spot that they have picked once labor starts.  This isn’t to say that the cria will be born in that spot as once labor starts the dams can move around quite a bit as they push and work on getting their cria delivered.   Unless something drives them away from that spot then often the cria will be delivered not far away from the area where the dam has spent many hours in her final weeks of pregnancy.

Willow is due to have her cria at the end of August and she has already picked out her spot in the pasture.  Last time she delivered her cria she did so in our large blue shelter, but the weather had dictated that choice as she delivered during a sandstorm.  Willow is smart enough to know that the shelter was a much more comfortable place to deliver a cria when the wind and dust are blowing.

This year Willow’s spot is in one of the pens that we use to feed the llamas every morning.  It has now become part of Willow’s routine that once she has been fed and the llamas have been let out of their pens that she make her way over to the one llama pen where she carefully cushes on the ground.  Once she is comfortably cushed she sits there for at least an hour, sometimes more, her ears back a little, sometimes flickering as her cria gives her a swift kick or two.  Willow doesn’t look uncomfortable during this time but you can tell something is going on.

You can bet we will be watching Willow as she gets closer to her delivery date, particularly when we see her over in her “spot”.  Let’s hope the llamas have finished eating by the time Willow decides to go into labor, or else there could be competition for that selected spot!

Rosemary

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