A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 15, 2013

Farewell to a Faithful Guardian

A sad part of raising alpacas and llamas is that at some time in their life we have to let them go.   As some of our herd ages this is a situation we will no doubt be encountering more often.  It’s tough, but unavoidable.

This morning our guard llama Griffin passed away.  At 13 years old Griffin was middle aged in llama terms, some llamas live well into their twenties but in Griffin’s case that was not to be.

We acquired Griffin through Southwest Llama Rescue along with our other two llamas Maya and Inca.  Griffin’s registered name was Twilight’s Griffin Girl, her fleece was a beautiful rose grey.  Griffin was always more aloof than Maya and Inca, she was a strong and proud girl and took her job of guarding the herd seriously unless someone started putting out hay and then she was quite easily distracted!  Griffin loved to find a higher piece of ground to stand on so she could survey her “kingdom”.  She also loved a really good roll in the dirt, and a nice “shower” with the hose during the hot days of summer.  When we used to hose her legs Griffin would start a dance, spinning and twisting as she enjoyed the cool water on her skin.  You had to make sure to stay out of her way unless you wanted to be showered from mud flinging up from under Griffins feet!

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Griffin looking proud after shearing

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Griffin gets up close and personal

From her records we knew that Griffin had once had a cria, but sadly he did not live long.  When crias were born on our farm Griffin would often nuzzle them and follow them around, and it was on more than one occasion that Griffin joined in the evening cria pronk.  It was so funny to see the little alpaca crias pronking around accompanied by a pretty hefty llama!

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Griffin checks out one of our crias Kaneka

We had known something was not right with Griffin since July.  While I was away visiting family in England Ric called me to tell me Griffin was not eating.  I was due to return a couple of days later and by that time Ric had managed to get Griffin eating again but something was not right with our girl.  We consulted our vet and he felt that Griffin might have congestive heart failure and warned us that it would only be a matter of time before we had to say goodbye to her.

Amazingly Griffin perked up and seemed to be doing better, she was back to eating again and eagerly staking her claim on the morning and evening hay as she loved to do.  The alpacas all knew not to mess with Griffin at feeding time.  We were optimistic.  Perhaps the vet’s diagnosis was wrong.  Griffin seemed good and we were happy to see her looking like her usual self.  But then we noticed that once again Griffin was not right.  She seemed to be losing muscle in her rear end, she stood awkwardly and getting up and down seemed more difficult for her than normal.  We again consulted our vet.  When he examined her he said that her heart sounded good and that the symptoms she had displayed earlier in the summer were all gone, but he was a little baffled as to what was causing Griffin’s discomfort and muscle wasting.  Tests were done to see if perhaps there was a neurological problem or perhaps an issue with Griffin’s spine, blood tests were run to see if there was anything abnormal, but nothing showed up in any of the tests to give us a clue.

We tried various treatments from probiotics to antibiotics, we treated for parasites and ear ticks, we put Griffin on some arthritis medicine in case that was the problem.  I used my photonic red light on her and gave her gentle massages.  Griffin would respond for a while and start eating again and then stop eating and start to lose muscle again.  Neither our vet nor we could come up with any clues to help us figure out what on earth was plaguing Griffin.

Last week Griffin again went off her feed.  We managed to get her eating again, but within a couple of days she would not eat anything we offered to her.  Ric and I were both very concerned about Griffin and what we should do for her.

Last night when I did chores I walked Griffin over to the pen where she liked to eat.  As I walked behind her I noticed she was tripping over even the smallest of rocks in the pasture, she just didn’t look good.  I offered her food and stroked her neck.  I talked to her and told her that if she felt it was time to leave us then I understood.  I told her how much we loved her and what a great job she had done for us guarding the herd.  I told her we would miss her but that we would be okay.

This morning when I got up I looked for Griffin and found her standing by the fence in front of the house.  The nights have been cold recently and Griffin had been spending them in the big blue shelter at the other side of the pasture, staying in there until the hay was put out.  But this morning she had already made her way across the pasture.  I watched Griffin walk around a little and then cush down.

When our helper Leigh Ann arrived I asked her to keep an eye on Griffin and told her that I was very worried about her.  Not too long after Leigh Ann went out to feed the alpacas she came back in and told me that I needed to come to Griffin.  Leigh Ann had seen Griffin’s legs suddenly thrash and Griffin had gone onto her side.

Leigh Ann and I went out and I when I looked at Griffin I knew her time to leave us had come.  Griffin was still conscious.  I put a blanket and a towel under her head and sat with her, stroking her and talking to her until she took her last breath.  Leigh Ann stayed with Griffin and me too, giving us both comfort during a difficult time.

Maya, Inca and Griffin

Maya, Inca and Griffin, the three girls always worked as a team

Our Griffin will be buried in one of the grass pastures that the alpacas and llamas like to visit when we let them out for a day of grazing.  From that point you can see all three alpaca pastures and the hay barn so Griffin can continue to guard over us night and day.  I would like to think that she now has been reunited with her cria and is pronking around with him free of pain and full of joy.

To our faithful guardian Griffin, farewell dear one, you served us well and gave us many years of joy.  We will miss you.  May you now rest in peace.

Rosemary

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December 2, 2009

When the Whole Herd Prongs ….

It’s time to take cover!  Especially if your guard llamas are joining in as well!

With recent snows and falling temperatures the animals on the farm have been a little friskier.  The horses like to have a little buck and kick session as the excitement of feeding time combines with their need to stay active and warm.  The dogs are ready to dash about all over the place, especially puppy Blue who is about as fast as a dog can get speeding here and there as she follows Ric during morning chores.  The alpaca boys like to warm up by taking part in some extra wrestling sessions especially as evening feeding time draws nearer.   We keep an eye on the boys as they wrestle, 90% of the time they are fine but if we see things starting to get a bit too rough then we will intervene.  Usually clapping our hands or whistling will distract them long enough to break up the wrestling match, but if that fails the appearance of more hay or feed usually gets the boys attention away from wrestling.

In the girls pen the friskiness is less aggressive, with the young crias in with the girls it is usually not long before sunset that  a couple of the crias start to race around the pasture, increasing their body temperatures as they gallop at full speed.  Occasionally a few of the adult girls will join in and we are treated to the sight of the adult girls in full prong, bouncing up into the air with tails raised and heads held high.

Tuesday evening though saw a rare event, the site of the whole female pasture pronging together as a herd, from the smallest cria to the oldest dam and our guard llamas too they moved together as one from one side of the pasture to the other and back again.  By the time this happened it was dark, having been delayed starting the evening chores I was later getting to the girls than usual and by the time I was ready to feed them the daylight had gone.  You would think that the site of the feed wagon loaded down with hay and feed would be enough to get the girls to stop, but no they were just having too much fun and the pronging continued.

There was no point in going into the pasture any further to try and stop them, they weren’t paying attention to me and the last thing I wanted was to get mown down by a herd of cavorting camelids – try explaining that to the doctor!   There was nothing else to be done but stand back and watch the site of my happy herd (and yes they finally did settle down to eat but it took a while!).

Rosemary

September 8, 2009

Snake Herding

Monday morning as I was happily scooping the poop in the girls pasture I noticed some of the crias paying attention to something outside the fence line.  I couldn’t see what was causing their distraction but thought it was most likely a rabbit.

A short while later though the attention had moved to the middle of the pasture and now along with the crias were Inca (one of the guard llamas) and Cinnamon.  Just looking at Inca and Cinnamon I could tell that something was amiss – they both were dancing, their tails held high and their necks stretched forward toward something on the ground.  At first I thought it was a stick and then I realized it was moving and the stick was in fact a snake.

I went over to see what sort of snake it was; if it was a rattle snake something would have to be done quickly as the attention of the alpacas and llamas would surely annoy it (snakes are not very sociable creatures and prefer not to be the center of attention!).

Fortunately the snake was a bull snake, about four feet long and the brown and tan variety, unlike the black and yellow bull snake I had seen earlier in the summer.  Still I didn’t think the snake would be too pleased about the attention the girls and crias were giving it so I needed to try and get it out of the pasture without the alpacas or llamas annoying it along the way.

Armed with my poop shovel in one hand and the rake in the other I decided that it would be easiest to follow the snake to the fence line using the shovel and the rake to keep any inquisitive noses away.  Of course once word got around the pasture that something different was happening the whole herd gathered to look at the snake.  The snake was very cooperative and made his way across the pasture with me walking behind him and the shovel and rake at either side of him.  Theresa got a little brave at one point and tried hard to get closer to the snake but I was able to guide her away with the rake and keep her from getting too close.  I did have to chuckle though as walked behind the snake guiding him on his way, it was just as if I was using the shovel and rake as we use the herding wands to move the alpacas when we need to, but this time I was herding one well behaved snake.

Soon the snake was through the pasture fence and headed down the driveway, my first attempt at snake herding had been successful and the girls and crias could go back to eating their hay.  I’m not sure my snake herding would be so successful with more than one snake and I am pretty sure that if the snake had been a rattle snake I would be using the shovel for a different purpose than herding snakes!  Let’s hope the rattle snakes stay away from the pasture and I never have to find out!

Rosemary

July 30, 2009

Another Hay Bites The Dust

Last Sunday Ric and I (accompanied by puppy Blue) drove down to Roswell to meet with a hay grower and bring some sample bales of hay back. The hay we were interested in was a Bermuda grass hay and an oat hay.

 

The hay grower was a lovely man, very amenable to working with us and very proud of his hay. The grower already had an analysis on his oat hay and it was only running around 10% protein which is too low for our needs. Having ruled out the oat hay we brought some of the Bermuda grass hay home with us.

 

We tried the alpacas out with the hay and they ate it but were not as zealous about it as they are with the wheat hay we are currently feeding them. We would never just switch from one hay to another as that can really have a bad affect on the alpacas digestive system and it means that if they really don’t like the new hay then they have nothing to eat. We blended some of the Bermuda in with the wheat hay and over a couple of days the alpacas were starting to eat more of the Bermuda. Griffen the llama was particularly taken with the Bermuda grass hay, but her tastes in hay do tend to be different from the rest of the herd and our other two llamas Maya and Inca.

 

On Tuesday we ran the hay in for testing to our local lab ADM Labs. We received the results back on Wednesday and sadly they were not the best. While the Calcium/Phosphorus balance was good and the Potassium was not a disaster (higher than we like but better than some we have seen this year), the crude protein was only 9% which is nowhere near high enough for our herd, especially the pregnant and nursing females.

 

We were sad that the results did not pan out as we had hoped, we liked the hay grower and had looked forward to working with him. There is not point though in buying hay that is not suitable for our needs, at 9% protein it is not even sufficient for our fiber boys.

 

The results of the hay analysis will be shared with the grower, it is only fair to do so and it will help him decide what adjustments he needs to make to his hay management. For this year we will not be buying hay from him, but by next year perhaps things will have changed and we will be able to business.

 

In the meantime we will be keeping our eyes open for more potentially good hay on sale. Eventually we will find some I am sure and for now we have a reasonable stock of wheat hay on hand, but of course every day the alpacas keep eating it and the stack gets smaller!

 

Rosemary

July 18, 2009

More Visitors of a warmer, fuzzier kind

Filed under: Alpaca Care, Alpaca Fiber, alpaca handling, camelids, Family, General, guard llamas, llama — alpacalady @ 6:49 am
The Visiting Llamas sporting a newly shorn look

The Visiting Llamas sporting a newly shorn look

 Just when we think there can’t be any more shearing to do someone calls and asks about shearing. So it was we found ourselves shearing six llamas on Thursday evening.

One of the llamas we had shorn for his owner last year, a good looking solid black male llama whose coat is a little suri like in appearance. The owner says that the male llama is the best cowboy he has, the llama not only protects the owners cattle, but also brings the cattle in to water and helps round up cattle when the owner is out working cattle on horseback. The llama is quite remarkable in his ability to sense what the owner needs and is a very good guard llama.

The other llamas in the group were three older females, a juvenile female and a juvenile male. Considering these llamas spend all year in the pasture with little to no handling they took the shearing process well. We did have to sedate two of the older females, we could see they were very nervous and the sedation helped them to relax and accept the process without a lot of fuss and stress.

 As each llama was shorn we took them out of the barn and tied them to trees around the barn and to their trailer so that they could nibble on tree leaves or weeds. Two of them even decided to have a roll after shearing no doubt enjoying the feeling of being cooler and able to feel the ground on their skin.

Fortunately we closed the driveway gates as part way through the evening the adult male llama decided that it was time for him to go exploring. He somehow managed to get his halter off and when we went out to check on him all we could see was an empty halter and a hanging lead rope. It didn’t take long to find him though as he had wandered over to visit with our three guard llamas Maya, Inca and Griffin. Our girls were most excited to have a male llama call to visit.

 

As the evening went on some storms rolled in bringing with them a lot of lightning and we decided it would be best for us to load the llamas back into their trailer before the storms and lightning got too close. Later that evening the llamas owner came to pick them up and take them home, happy to have his llamas shorn and comfortable and anxious to get his”cowboy” back to his cattle herd.

 

Rosemary

June 4, 2009

And We Do This Because…?

Carissima and Glow

Carissima and Glow

I find it a little amusing that sometimes the alpacas and llamas decide that our good management practices are not really for them.  Too often I have seen one of the herd toss some hay on the floor beside the hay feeder and merrily munch on the hay on the floor.  We do put grids over the hay in our hay feeders but sometimes they still manage to pull a clump out and deposit it onto the floor where apparently it just tastes better.  The llamas are perhaps worse about the alpacas for doing this.  They think nothing of overturning a hay bucket to deposit the contents on the ground, often destroying the bucket in the process. (Note we are now trying flexible rubber hay buckets to see if they stand up to llamas better).

Yesterday morning I was greeted by the site of Carissima (that’s her on the left of the picture that was taken prior to her being shorn) happily drinking out of a muddy puddle that lay just a foot or so away from the automatic waterer.  We had a pretty good storm the night before and as often happens on our hard, dry ground the water accumulated in puddles.  To Carissima this puddle was tasty, she stood and drank heartily from it, while close by stood the Nelson automatic waterer full of cool, clean, fresh water with not an alpaca or llama close by except for Carissima.  I shooed Carissima away from the puddle but later in the day caught her drinking from it again.  Perhaps the dirt gave it some added flavor or better mineral content, whatever the reason Carissima thought the puddle water was worth drinking.

In any herd management seminar you will be told to make sure that alpacas and llamas have fresh, clean water and that their hay is put into above ground feeders.  We are advised to do this to help keep parasites at bay and to make sure our alpacas and llamas have the best and most sanitary feeding conditions possible.  The trouble is that the alpacas and llamas are smart enough (within reason) to rearrange their feeding and drinking arrangements to their wants.

Of course we will continue to put the hay in the hay feeders to keep it off the ground and we will continue to have lots of fresh, clean water available to the herd, but as I watch the alpacas and llamas happily tossing their hay on the floor or drinking from a muddy puddle I do have to wonder “and we do this because…”

Rosemary

March 26, 2009

Scoundrels!

The Girls Help Themselves to Hay

The Girls Help Themselves to Hay

 

What can I say?  Leave a herd of alpacas alone long enough with a bale of their favorite teff hay which has been “secured” in a pen and one of them will figure out how to get the pen gate open allowing the herd an “all you can eat” buffet on the bale!

We had one bale of teff hay left and decided to store it in the pen we use for big bales in the girls pasture so that we could ration it out a little every day.  Word soon spread among the herd that the teff hay was there and the girls happily spent their day pulling pieces through the chain link of the pen.  That teff hay tastes so good and our girls wanted more.

Maya the llama was the first to lead the assault on the big bale pen.  Using the chain link material on the gate to the big bale pen she managed to climb up high enough to where she could reach her neck out and just manage to nibble at the edge of the bale.  This wasn’t the easiest feat in the world but Maya was determined despite being told off by Ric for climbing on the chain link gate.

Having been discouraged from accessing the bale by going over the fence there was only one alternative, go under the fence.

We have two alpacas at the farm that are champions at putting their heads under the last rung of any portable panel or gate in order to reach anything that is tasty on the other side.  Carina started this trend, reaching under her feeding pen each morning to steal one of the bowls from the group of girls in the adjoining pen.  Carina also discovered that there was sufficient space for her to get her head and neck under the gate of the big bale pen.

Carina is one of those girls who puts her energy into milk production and tends to be slim, so when we saw her getting access to the big bale by putting her head under the gate we were not too concerned.  We checked to make sure she had sufficient room to get her head in and out of the gap under the gate and allowed her to continue stealing some extra calories.

Glow’s cria Nochi then noticed Carina’s trick and decided that she too could steal hay from under the gate and was soon joining Carina.

Having accessed the hay from under the gate it didn’t take long for Carina to figure out that she could use her head (in a physical way rather than an intellectual way) to push up on the gate just enough to unlatch the lock. 

So it was that yesterday afternoon I glanced out of the window to be greeted by the sight of the herd piling in that gate to help themselves to teff hay – boy were they happy!

While I would love to give them free access to the teff hay, it is the last bale we have and we are trying to make it last.  We do have other hay to feed the alpacas but it will be August before we have access to another load of teff hay.  So for now the gate to the big bale pen has been secured not only with the latch but also with a strap that prevents the alpacas and llamas from maneuvering the gate in any direction – and I have a herd of alpacas who sit longingly outside that pen quietly thinking about how they can once again get free access to that bale of teff hay.

Rosemary

March 16, 2009

The Folly Of Mother Nature

A Scared Baby Rabbit

A Scared Baby Rabbit

 

Just before our recent snow fall it was starting to look like spring around the farm, fruit trees were blossoming, elm trees were bright green with young leaves, the bluebirds had arrived for their short stay before heading further north and madam skunk had been prowling the property.

 

Then the snow came and everything was plunged back into winter.  That is the nature of the weather in Eastern New Mexico, extreme and changeable.

 

While doing chores in the snow on Friday morning I was made aware of how much nature had been fooled by our warmer days.

 

Putting hay out for the girls is always a bustling time.  They want to be the first to get their head in the hay feeder, or even better get their head in the bucket of hay I am carrying, especially if we are treating them to a little alfalfa as was the case on Friday.

 

As I put hay out in the feeders in the large blue shelter Griffin the llama was standing by my shoulder trying her best to get her head in the hay bucket.  Suddenly from the direction of Griffins feet came a squealing sound.  The sound was vaguely familiar, I didn’t think it was a cria and hoped it was not as we are not due for any births until May.  The squealing continued and eventually I found the source of the noise.  There under Griffins foot was a tiny baby cottontail rabbit. 

 

Fortunately Griffin did not have her feet completely on the rabbit, she’s a large girl and that would have been the end of the rabbit I am sure.  I nudged Griffin to move and the little rabbit dashed off to the side of the shelter.  It was then I noticed a ball of downy fur nestled in the straw where the mother rabbit had made a nest out of her own fur.

 

The dashing of baby rabbit number one had alerted baby rabbit number two who then ran out of the nest to the side of the shelter.  There was no sign of the mother rabbit, but there was enough activity to get the attention of the llamas and the alpacas.  They watched with curiosity as the little rabbits ran around the shelter dashing from one side to the one.  Then, once the rabbits had stopped, Inca (another of our llamas) and Griffin decided that they should check out what these little furry speeding balls of fur were.  Very gently Inca and Griffin reached out their necks and sniffed the rabbits.  Can you imagine what must have been going through those rabbits minds as the large llama muzzles came down towards them?

 

After a couple of sniffs and some words of reassurance from me that the rabbits were okay Inca and Griffin returned to eating hay.  Two of the alpaca girls Keeva and Ma Cushla though felt they needed to be in on the action and so also went over to sniff the baby rabbits, who by now must have been petrified.

 

As the rabbits seemed okay, apart from being scared, I decided that the best thing to do was to leave them alone to settle back down and return to their nest in the hope that the mother rabbit would return to care for them.  I moved the girls hay feeder away from the nest to make sure that no one stepped on the rabbits again and left the shelter.

 

We have seen the baby rabbits since Friday; Ric caught a glimpse of them on Saturday morning.  They seem to be faring well and I am pretty certain the mother rabbit is tending to them when we are not around.

 

I am glad that the little rabbits and their mother were not scared out of the shelter.  It provides great shelter for them and has some nice deep straw in it where they can stay hidden and warm, provided that is that the girls do not step on them again.  It is early though for such small rabbits and goes to show how Mother Nature sometimes fools herself.

 

Rosemary

January 13, 2009

Trying Tiffany

 

We’ve received the analysis back on the Tiffany Teff Hay.  It is higher in protein than we had expected and also has more potassium than we like to see making me wonder if perhaps it was fertilized more heavily than it needed to be.  The Calcium/Phosphorus ratio is good as is the TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients).

 

During my research on Tiffany Teff grass and alpacas I have found varying reports.  Some farms said their alpacas would not touch it, others said their alpacas loved it.  For the most part though the alpacas that would not touch the Tifffany Teff grass were kept on fairly good quality pasture, while the alpacas that loved it were kept on dry lots as our alpacas are.  So it seems that when alpacas are used to lovely fresh pasture the Tiffany Teff grass is not of interest to them, but for alpacas that don’t have the fresh pasture it has seems to have an appeal.

 

We have decided to try a big bale to see how it works with our feeding program.  It will not be the main hay for the alpacas but rather will supply some extra nutrition to the girls who with various stages of pregnancy and nursing crias tend to need more nutritional care than the boys (although on cold nights the boys will be treated to a little of the Tiffany Teff grass too).

 

For ease of feeding we are putting the bale of hay in a feeding pen within the girls pasture.  The pen has a gate that can be shut, meaning that we will be able to restrict the access to the Tiffany Teff grass as we feel necessary.

 

The girls were quite excited to see a big bale being delivered to their pasture.  They have had big bales to feed off in the past and seem to like the idea of having 24/7 unlimited access to hay.  As much as the girls like that idea, the Tiffany Teff grass is too high in protein to allow them 24/7 free access, so they may be a little disappointed to find the gate to the bale shut from time to time.

 

Griffin the llama was particularly excited about the delivery of the big bale.  She spied the tractor outside the bottom gate and started performing a dance of joy, bouncing and twirling around outside the gate.  By the time we opened the gates to move the tractor and bale into the pasture word had spread among the girls that something exciting was going on and they were all galloping and pronging around the pasture as Ric drove the tractor in – making for some hazardous driving conditions (beware the low flying llama!), but Ric made it in and out of the pasture without injury to himself of any of the herd.

 

So we will give the Tiffany Teff grass a try.  The farmer who grew it is local to this area and so perhaps we can speak to him about making some adjustments to his next crop.  We have to remember that this is a relatively new forage crop and it will take time for the hay growers to figure out how to get the crop to the nutritional levels required by their customers.

 

This morning will be our first time of feeding the hay to the girls.  I always prefer to feed a new hay during the day when I can be around to see the alpacas reaction to it, we try to be careful to buy safe weed free hay, but should there be any adverse reaction by any one of the herd it is better to happen during the day when the vets is available and we are around to see what is happening.

 

Judging from the small sample we fed prior to purchasing the hay I think everything will be fine and hopefully the only problem we will have is persuading three greedy llamas to leave the pen when we come to close the gate in front of the bale of hay!

 

Rosemary

November 17, 2008

So What Do You Get If ………..

 Some trips to the vet are for good reasons and such was the case when I took two of the visiting girls in for ultrasounds last week.   The ultrasounds showed that both girls were pregnant and the girls handled the procedure well.

 

What was unusual for my trip was that I was the only client at the vets that afternoon.  The vet did have some house calls to make later in the day, but for some reason that day was a little quiet – a welcome break for our usually busy vet.

 

The relaxed atmosphere at the vet clinic meant that we could get caught up on news and talk about various things we had been seeing or doing.  Our vet mentioned that recently he had been out in deepest rural New Mexico (the type of area where you don’t see anything anywhere close to you and are aware it has been a long time since you even drove past a house or a driveway) when he had come across two llamas standing proudly in a pasture.   The llamas made an unusual sight, standing there in the pasture with nothing else nearby not even a ranch cow (although I am betting those llamas were being used for guards for sheep or possible cows with calves).

 

Our conversation turned to the subject of llamas that pull carts, and we jokingly spoke as to how that might be a better option than cars in our current economy.

 

Then our vet asked me if I had ever heard of a llama being crossed with a camel.  I knew that at some time I had heard of such a creature but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was called.  I was pretty certain it did not inherit the camel’s hump though.

 

Our vet mentioned that one of his clients had recently brought a camel in to the clinic  and had allowed our vet to ride the camel.  Our vet had been surprised to see that the camel led off with it’s hind leg rather than the front leg, and that camels have a lateral gait (moving both hind and front leg from the same side at the same time) rather than a diagonal gait (moving opposite hind and front legs).  The camel our vet had ridden was a Bactrian camel (the two humped variety) and that led us to wonder if only Bactrian camels had the lateral gait or if Dromedary camels also have a lateral gait (they do).

 

The vet’s questions stuck in my mind when I returned home and I was still certain that I had at some stage heard of a camel crossed with a llama and so I did a little research to see what I could find.

 

It turns out that on January 14, 1998  Rama the Cama was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  Cama is the term being used for the offspring resulting from the crossing of a camel and a llama.  Some of the information I discovered mentioned Rama’s dam being a llama, but it seems as if Rama’s dam was actually a guanaco.  The confusion about Rama’s dam may come from the word lama (not only one “L”), which is the genus name  South American Camelids; a guanaco is a lama but not a llama.  You can see why people might get confused.

 

There is an interesting piece about Rama and how he came to be at

 

http://taylorllamas.com/Camel-LamaCross.html

 

Pictures of Rama can be seen at

http://taylorllamas.com/Camel-LamaCrossPhotos.html

 

Unfortunately Rama has not grown up with the nicest of dispositions, part of that might be that his dam had little milk and was not interested in Rama when he was born and so he was bottle fed.  The other contributing factor to Rana’s personality might just be the combination of the guanaco and camel personalities.   Rama also was not accepted by the camels and guanaco’s at the Camel Reproduction Center where he lives.

 

Since Rama’s birth other Camel-Lama crosses have been produced including Kamilah who does have a llama dam rather than a guanaco dam.

 

Rama is still alive and lives at the Camel Reproduction Center in Dubai; he likes to kick a soccer ball around for entertainment.  It still has not been determined if Rama is fertile or not.

 

If you have time to read a longer article check out

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99oct/9910camels.htm

 

The article is in three sections but is an interesting insight into camels and the work of Dr. Julian “Lulu” Skidmore at the Camel Reproduction Center.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rosemary

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