A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 5, 2009

The Heat Is Back

A Very Pregnant Willow Keeps Cool

A Very Pregnant Willow Keeps Cool

 

After being thoroughly spoilt with some cooler temperatures and rain we are now back to experiencing triple digit heat.

 

Having been shorn in the late spring our alpacas are at least experiencing the heat minus their fleeces, but they still seek out the shade and enjoy the cool breezes created by the fans in the shelters. The crias seem to feel the heat the least and still find the energy to have a chase around the pasture now and again. Black Prince though has been well taught by his dam Chai and was found in the prime position in front of the fan yesterday afternoon. I can guarantee that if there is rain, snow or extreme heat Chai will be one of the first alpacas to take up residence in the shelter and she teaches her crias to always secure their place in the shelter at the earliest chance.

 

Our newly arrived visiting alpacas Mira Bella, Lady Belle and Jillie Belle are probably relishing the fact that our heat does not come along with the humidity that is present at their home farm in Louisiana. Still though they have taken to sitting in front of the fan in the shelter. With only the three of them in the quarantine pasture it is easy for them to spend the whole day in their shelter nibbling on the hay, sipping cool water and enjoying the shade and breeze. At times it would be easy to think that the quarantine pen has been abandoned, but by the evening the three girls come out at the first rattle of the feed bowls. Little Jillie Belle also tries to join in with the cria games that she sees taking part in the main pasture, a few more weeks and we can let her in with the main herd and give her the chance to run and play with the other crias.

 

It seems like the spring breedings have only just finished, yet already we are starting to keep a close watch on the two girls who are due to have late summer/early fall crias. Willow is due to have her cria by Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure at the end of August, her cria “bump” is quite large (and perhaps a little exaggerated by her compact body style) and she waddles around the pasture these days. Bjorn is due to have her cria by Enchantment’s Prince Regent at the beginning of September, her cria “bump” has been large and very active for several months now and Bjorn’s appetite is telling us that she once again is carrying a large cria. Bjorn’s crias are usually over 20 lbs. when they are born and toward the end of her pregnancy Bjorn always seems to be hungry as she feeds her unborn cria and herself.

 

Let’s hope that by the time Willow and Bjorn give birth the temperatures will be on their way down again without having plummeted to the range of “cold”. You would think that would be unlikely but remember we are in New Mexico where as far as the weather is concerned anything could happen!

 

Rosemary

August 1, 2009

Alpacas In, Alpacas Out

 

This weekend we have been joined by Dale and Melissa Armer of Hidden Acres Farm in, Lena Louisiana.

 

Dale and Melissa have come to pick up their alpacas Orchid and Candytuft. Orchid and Candytuft have been with us since March so that Orchid could be bred to our Enchantment’s Prince Regent. Orchid has been confirmed pregnant and is now able to travel home. We have enjoyed having Orchid and Candytuft here, in particular watching Candytuft grow up from a one month cria to the now 5 month cria that she is.

 

Having traveled such a long way to pick up Orchid and Candytuft, Dale and Melissa decided to add value to their trip by bringing us two more of their girls for breeding to our males. So as Orchid and Candytuft leave, Mirabella, Ladybelle and Mirabella’s cria Ginnybelle arrive.

 

The three new arrivals have quickly settled in and today our time will be spent with Dale and Melissa talking about all things alpaca and helping them make their final decision as to who to breed Mirabella and Ladybelle too. The girls however will not be bred until around November so that when they have their crias next year they will not be delivering in the heat and humidity of a Louisiana summer.

 

Of course all of our herd were curious about the new arrivals, gathering at the fence line to look at the new girls in the quarantine pen. The new girls seemed glad to see other alpacas following their long trailer ride and of course wasted no time in having a good roll in the dirt!

 

Rosemary

 

 

July 29, 2009

When Can You First See Alpaca Crias Move

Black Prince and Valkyrie enjoy time in the sun - not much movement here!

Black Prince and Valkyrie enjoy time in the sun - not much movement here!

 

That was a question that was recently in the search terms that refer people to my blog. As someone is out there looking for that information I thought it would be nice to write a little about it.

 

Alpaca crias in utero can be lively little things. We ultrasound our pregnant alpaca girls at about 45 days post breeding and by that time the embryo is quite a good size on an ultrasound screen. Often we see the cria moving around. I still remember when we ultra-sounded Theresa when she was expecting Asteroid. Asteroid floated into view on the ultrasound screen and almost turned and waved at the camera so as to say. It was the funniest thing and turned out to be quite typical of the sort of thing Asteroid did once he was born. As Asteroid was and still is quite the character.

 

Alpaca crias do most of their growing in the last trimester of the pregnancy, prior to that they are really quite small and so often you do not see much movement. A 90 day fetus is usually around 3 – 4 “ in length so you can see how it would be difficult to see movement from that size fetus as it is carried in an adult alpaca.

 

To a certain extent the amount of movement seen depends on the size of the cria and the size of the dam. If you get a large cria in a medium to large sized dam you will probably see the cria move around the five month gestation point. If the cria is smaller then it may be six months or later until you see the cria move. We have found that if you have a large cria in a small dam it can be hard to see them move at all – there just isn’t much room to move I guess.

 

When our Clarissa was expecting her first cria she was huge quite early on in her pregnancy. I kept looking for the cria to move but only saw it move once and that was toward the end of the pregnancy. Clarissa is not a big girl and her cria was a good sized boy when he was born.

 

Our girl Bjorn is a good size and always has crias that weigh around 20 lbs. With Bjorn’s current pregnancy we have wondered if she was fooling us on her correct breeding date. Although our records show Bjorn due to have her cria in September, Bjorn was so large and her cria so active we wondered if an earlier Spring breeding may have caused the pregnancy, but we have passed the due date for that pregnancy and Bjorn is still pregnant so it looks as if she has another 20 lb. Plus cria on the way.

 

It is good to watch for the unborn crias move. Its fun to do and also helps you know which girls are carrying their crias to term. We have always been told that it is easiest to see movement on the dam’s left side as alpaca females usually carry their cria in the left uterine horn, but we have seen crias moving on both the right and left side of the dam (and it was definitely cria movement not just cud chewing movement). We find a good time to go cria watching is in the evening when the girls have had a good feast on the hay and are cushed and relaxed for the evening. As we walk through the pasture we take a minute or two to watch each pregnant girl and are often rewarded with the sight of cria movement. Sometimes if you shine a flash light at the back of the dam’s abdomen, the light from the flashlight will stimulate the cria to move – just don’t do it too much or you will get a grumpy dam telling you to let her rest in peace!

 

So a short answer to the question “When can you first see a cria move” would be around the five to six month point of gestation and in some cases maybe even a little earlier.

 

Rosemary

July 24, 2009

Keeping The Bugs At Bay

Natures Defender Alpacas and Llamas Insect Spray

Natures Defender Alpacas and Llamas Insect Spray

With our recent rains and warm weather the fly population is rapidly increasing. As we live in an area that is highly populated with dairy cows flies are a part of life. The dairies do their best to keep the fly population under control, many of them use fly predators and some spray for flies but the flies still manage to repopulate. The other insect of concern is the mosquito who is no doubt laying eggs like crazy in any water that has collected as a result of the rain.

We use food grade diatomaceous earth as a top dressing for our feed (it is most important it is food grade and not pool grade) and that helps not only with the flies but also with other internal parasites. For our stock tanks we use something called mosquito dunks which effectively kill mosquito larvae while leaving the water in the stock tank safe for our horses to consume.

With alpacas being fleece animals there is always the risk of lice getting your herd. We have unfortunately experienced lice in the herd in the past when some alpacas brought to us for shearing managed to pass them on to our herd. That was in the pre-quarantine days when alpaca owners would casually allow visiting alpacas to intermingle with their own herd. Now we know better and visiting alpacas are quarantined for three weeks prior to joining our herd and we are careful to clean our shearing mats and equipment after shearing visiting alpacas or llamas.

We are always on the lookout for new products that are helpful in keeping the bugs at bay and recently came across one that really has impressed us. “Natures Defender Alpacas and Llamas Insect Spray” is an all natural topical insect spray. Made from Cedar oil and Silane Fluid this spray is USDA approved and safe to use on most animals (it is not suitable for exotic birds). To us one of the best features of this product is that you can safely use it on pregnant alpacas and llamas.

Our past experience with lice in the herd has shown us how difficult it is to eradicate lice when you have pregnant females. Most lice treatments are not safe for pregnant and nursing alpacas which means that your pregnant and nursing alpacas cannot be treated for many months, preventing you from being able to treat the herd 100%.

The Nature’s Defender spray though allows us to spray pregnant and nursing alpacas if needed and as it is safe to use on crias we have been able to provide some fly relief for our crias whose beautiful young eyes often attract flies.

In addition to killing flies and lice the spray also kills ticks, mites, bacteria and fungal infections. You can also use it around the house to repel and kill insects. Actually we are finding more uses for this product every day – we have sprayed the alpacas, sprayed the dogs (including our puppy Blue), we have even sprayed Ric (well we sprayed his t-shirt before he did chores and the flies left him alone). We have also used the Nature’s Defender product on our alpaca products to keep moths away including lightly misting our fleeces that have not yet been shipped for processing. We didn’t experience any staining on our products as a result of using the spray and everything has a nice cedar scent to it.

You can read more about Nature’s Defender Alpacas and Llamas Insect spray at http://www.alpacasllama-insectspray.com/ and if you check out the distributors page you will see we are listed as distributors. We like this product so much we decided that we wanted to be able to supply it to our clients and friends.

** (August 28, 2009) You can now purchase the Nature’s Defender Alpacas and Llamas Insect spray through our AlpacaNation Farm Store at

http://www.alpacanation.com/alpaca-stores/03_viewstore.asp?name=11586

If you are looking to keep the bugs at bay try Nature’s Defender Alpacas and Llamas spray, I’m betting you will like it and will soon be using it for many things as we do!

Rosemary

July 21, 2009

Alpaca Reunion

We had several alpaca reunions over the weekend starting first with the return of Anya to our farm.

 

Anya now belongs to Terri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch in Amarillo, Texas and last weekend we had taken Zin and Regent over to Terri’s ranch to breed Shiimsa and Anya. All went well with Zin and Shiimsa but Anya was not in the mood for breeding! In fact Anya was far from in the mood, running hard, spitting and even trying to get out of the stall – definitely not receptive. Anya’s reaction to the male was so dramatic that we started to wonder if she could have a retained CL or somehow be pregnant.

 

The pregnancy theory was a remote one, Terri had her two male alpacas Opie and Rian gelded after she purchased them and then kept them separated from the girls for at least three weeks. Terri did try and put the two gelded boys in with the girls but that was unsuccessful as she came out to the pasture one day to find Anya cushed and Opie acting as if he was breeding her. If Anya had cushed for Opie there was a chance that Opie’s act of breeding her could have been a factor in causing a retained CL.

 

We talked the situation over with Terri and decided to have her test Anya with Opie during the week to see if Anya’s reaction changed. About the middle of the week Terri reported that Anya seemed a little more flirty and so we made a plan for Anya to come over to our farm to see what happened when she was put in with Regent.

 

Saturday morning arrived and so did Terri and Anya. Thankfully Anya did cush for Regent this time and we will keep our fingers crossed that the breeding results in a pregnancy. Terri has left Anya with us for the next week or so in order that we may test Anya with a male to gauge if she might be pregnant.

 

It was fun to see Anya again and she settled right in, making her way to the feeding pen where we always fed her, checking out the hay feeders and of course sniffing and greeting her old pasture mates. What was interesting to me was that Anya’s dam Bjorn and sister Keeva were among the first in the herd to come and see Anya.

 

The other reunions arose from one simple act. Allowing the weanling alpacas back in the main herd. It didn’t take them long to find their mothers and by the evening each weanling was cushed at its dams side reinforcing once more the strong family bond that alpacas have.

 

So by Saturday evening our pasture was filled with happy alpaca families and hopefully a newly pregnant Anya.

 

Rosemary

July 8, 2009

Did She or Didn’t She?

I realize that I did not follow up on my post Back to the Waiting Game   where I thought our TeQueely was in the early stages of labor.

Well …… still no cria!  We were convinced that we would have a cria last Saturday following TeQueely’s uncomfortable behavior, but no cria arrived and TeQueely has been happily eating and chewing her cud since.  We can see TeQueely’s cria move and TeQueely is huge but there are now no signs of impending labor.

So I guess TeQueely’s cria was just doing some serious rearranging the other day, or for some reason changed its mind about coming out into the world.  We have had some stormy weather in the area with areas of high and low pressure appearing quite rapidly, sometimes those pressure changes will trigger labor, but not in the case of TeQueely’s cria.  That little one has decided that it is quite happy sheltered from the weather while lounging in TeQueely!

Last year TeQueely was a couple of weeks overdue in delivering her cria and that may be the case again this year.  With our temperatures really starting to heat up and highs expected in the 100’s for the rest of the week I am hoping that TeQueely does not go too long past her due date.

Still there is nothing we can do but sit and wait for an uneventful labor that results in a beautiful healthy cria.  I’ll keep you posted!

Rosemary

July 4, 2009

Back to the Waiting Game

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Reproduction, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — alpacalady @ 6:23 am

With five crias on the ground and pronging around the pasture we are back to playing the waiting game for cria number six.

Our special alpaca TeQueely (see her story on the blog entry for December 6, 2007 ) is due to delivery any day now, as I write this blog entry she is sitting in the pasture showing a little discomfort and definite puffiness under the tail.  It’s a little late in the day for a cria to be born (it is close to 4 p.m. as I am writing), but not unheard of.    I can see a lot of movement at the base of TeQueely’s tail as if the cria is stretching out its legs one last time before making his or her appearance.  Quite often when you see that much activity under the dams tail the cria will be born in the next day or so.

My suspicion is that TeQueely is in the very early stages of labor.  Often those very early stages are unobserved and the alpaca will continue to eat and move around the pasture looking quite normal.  Sometimes those early stages will occur overnight when most of us humans are not taking a stroll around the pasture. 

It would not surprise me if we get up tomorrow morning (or this morning to those reading this blog entry when it posts) to find TeQueely with a cria by her side.   We have a frontal system moving into the area this afternoon and the change in pressure can often trigger a birth not only in alpacas but also in humans.

For now I will keep TeQueely under observation and will check on her late into the night.  I would rather lose a few hours sleep than miss an alpaca having a problem delivery.  In all probability though TeQueely will deliver her cria just fine and we will have something extra to celebrate on July 4, Independence Day.

Until then it’s back to the waiting game!

Rosemary

July 2, 2009

A Special Little Girl Arrives

 

Here's Moonbeam!

Here's Moonbeam!

After our recent run of boy crias we were starting to wonder if we would have any girl crias this cria season.  On Tuesday June 23, Ivanna answered that question for us when she delivered a beautiful white female cria – finally a girl!

Ivanna’s little girl has bright shiny white fleece with lots of little bundles and she looks to have good fiber coverage all the way to her toes.

We didn’t get to see Ivanna’s cria being born as she was already delivered and sitting sternal when we went to check on the girls first thing in the morning.  I think our girls are being extra smart this year delivering their babies early in the day before the heat hits us.  With temperatures in the high 90’s to 100’s the days have been hot and now we have had some rain there is some humidity added in to the mix creating a higher heat index.  Usually our girls are pretty predictable in delivering their crias between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but this year we have now had two of the girls deliver early in the morning when the air is still cool.

Ivanna’s little cria was none the worse for her unsupervised delivery, she was quick to get up on her feet and she was hungry!  We put Ivanna and her cria in a pen in the shade to allow them time to bond and then continued with our chores.

I like to think that all of our crias are special, but this little female cria is extra special.  Not just because she is our only female cria this year, but also because she is the last cria from our herdsire Moonie who passed away in April.  Moonie only has four offspring, three of which are males (including our Little Man), so our little girl will be the only female Moonie offspring and I suspect she will not be going far from our farm.

It wasn’t hard to name our new little girl, I wanted to include something in her name that would reference Moonie and with her bright white fleece a name immediately sprung to mind.  So say hello to Windrush Moonbeam our extra special little girl.

Rosemary

June 26, 2009

Next Please!

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

With Queen, Chai and Rosie all having had their crias we still had Shiimsa, Ivanna, TeQueely and Willow to go. 

Shiimsa is now owned by Terri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch.  Shiimsa is one of Terri’s first alpacas and is her first pregnant dam, so Terri has been anxiously awaiting the birth of Shiimsa’s cria.  With Shiimsa being so far along with her pregnancy when Terri purchased her it was decided that Shiimsa would stay with us until after she delivered her cria.

On June 18 we thought Shiimsa was in labor and so called Terri to let her know.  Terri was able to take time off from work and come over for the day, but alas it turned out to be a false alarm and no cria arrived.

On June 21 though it was a different story.  Following chores Ric and I noticed Shiimsa stretched out beside the hay wagon.  Shiimsa typically spends a lot of her day at the hay wagon, but she rarely stayed there to stretch out or sunbathe, so to see her lying beside the hay wagon was a clue that she might have started labor.

We watched Shiimsa for a while and we could see that this time she really was in labor.  I called Terri who was taking part in a horse show that day and left her a voicemail to let her know that Shiimsa was in labor.  A short while later I received a call back from Terri, she had finished showing her horse and so was leaving the horseshow to take her horse home and then head our way.

By the time I spoke to Terri I could just about see the birthing sack starting to emerge.  Progress was a little slow, but Shiimsa is a maiden alpaca and so her body had to do some new stretching to accommodate the progression of the cria.   I decided to go into the house to collect my birthing kit, towels and other supplies, thinking I had several minutes before the cria was born.

By the time I had gathered my supplies I could see two little legs flapping around behind Shiimsa.  From her earlier slow progress Shiimsa had gathered speed and the cria was nearly fully emerged! 

I made it to Shiimsa just as her cria landed on the ground.  I moved the cria onto a clean blanket and started to dry it off and then checked to see whether the cria was a boy or a girl – it was another boy and another handsome boy at that.

Shiimsa’s cria is either bay black or black and has an unbelievably soft handle to his fleece.  His fleece is crimpy, shiny, fine and dense – what more could you ask for in such a dark male alpaca.

We knew Terri had been hoping for a girl, but once she arrived and saw her new cria she was very happy with him.  Terri already had a name picked out for him – “Rio”.
It is sometimes hard to tell the quality of a young cria, so much can change as they grow up, but little Rio is already showing a lot of potential.  Conformationally he is well put together and with that spectacular fleece I see the words “Color Champion” in Rio’s future.  If that is the case Rio will be following in the footsteps of his sire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel as well as his grandsire Dom Lucilio and his great grandsires Royal Fawn and Acero Marka’s Champ.

Shiimsa has proved to be an excellent mother; she is very attentive to Rio and gets quite distressed when he is out of her sight.  Shiimsa also has lots of milk, a great trait for a female alpaca.  I think Shiimsa has given Terri a great new addition to her alpaca herd.

Ric and I will look forward to seeing Rio grow and mature, we will be making a point to monitor this young male’s show and breeding career, but that is all in the future, for now we will have fun to watching him gallop around the pasture with the other spring crias. 

Rosemary

June 19, 2009

A Surprise in More Ways Than One!

Chai's Surprise Cria

Chai's Surprise Cria

Tuesday brought us a pleasant surprise.  Ric had an appointment in the morning and checked on the girls before he left.  I checked on the girls before I walked the dogs, checked on the girls again before I finished the chores in the boy’s pens and then went into the girl’s pens to turn on the fans before I let Blue out of the house for a potty break.  I was thinking that after I had seen to Blue I could return to feed the girls.

Instead a surprise awaited me as I walked around the corner of the shelter, for there on the floor was a black male cria, cushed and almost dry!  There were several girls in the shelter, but it only took a couple of seconds for me to see that Chai (her real name is AB IYIYI but we always call her Chai) was the mother of the cria.

Chai was just two days prior to her due date so for her to deliver a cria was not really a surprise.  What was surprising was that she had not shown us any signs of being in labor.  No sitting around, no frequent visits to the poop pile, no getting up and down to strain.  Chai had simply delivered her cria very quickly and apparently with minimal effort.  The cria look strong and healthy and Chai was looking surprising undisturbed by her recent delivery!

The other part of the surprise is that the cria is black, as the cria’s sire is our Enchantment’s Prince Regent who is white.  While Regent has thrown a black cria out of a black dam in the past, we had thought that we would get a cria who was fawn or lighter from his pairing with Chai. That’s the fun of alpaca color genetics, you never really know what you are going to get!

Chai’s cria is a handsome boy, tall like his dam with tightly curled shiny fleece.  At the moment he looks to be more of a bay black than a true black, but Chai’s previous cria Kaneka started off being a bay black and was true black by the time she was six months old.  This little boy is darker than Kaneka was so I feel he too may well be more true black as he matures.

It’s always nice to have pleasant surprises and when you find a healthy, good looking cria waiting for you along with a dam who has had an easy delivery it makes for a really good start to the day.  Within a short while Chai’s cria was up and about checking out his legs and then nursing from his dam  – while Queen’s cria sat outside the pen where we had put Chai and her cria anxiously awaiting the time when he could play with the new arrival!

Rosemary

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