A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 7, 2015

Visit the Alpacas on Open Farm Day

9.12.15 Farm Day flyer

May 18, 2009

Will She or Wont She?

That is the game we will be playing at the farm as spring cria season comes upon us.  With several girls due to have their crias over the next six weeks we will be watching for signs of impending labor.

The first girl to set us on our toes in anticipation is Rose Marie.  Rose Marie is due on May 30, but as I write this blog entry I am getting the feeling that we may well be seeing her cria before then.

Rose Marie was shorn this Saturday (May 16).  As she was so close to her due date we gave her some banamine to help prevent or stop any contractions and some Acepromazine to sedate her a little.  By the time we sheared Rose Marie she was definitely under the influence of the Acepromazine.   

With all of the pregnant girls we take extra steps to be careful when shearing them.  We lower them onto the mat as gently as possible and try and get them shorn as quickly as possible.  The pregnant girls may look a little less “polished” in appearance once they are shorn, but safety of the pregnancy is much more important than appearances.

Sunday turned into a great day for cria delivery, sunny with temperatures into the 70’s it was a beautiful day.

Shortly after feeding I noticed Rosie cush in front of one of the hay feeders, taking her time to lower herself to the ground.  Her actions were different from usual and enough to catch my attention.  I know from experience that with alpacas it is the subtle signs that give you a clue something may be happening.

Rosie didn’t get up to join the herd when we put out beet pulp shreds, which is not like her at all.  I kept a spoonful of the shreds for her and took them over to her once the other alpacas were all busy eating.  Rosie nibbled at them but not as heartily as she normally does.

The next odd sign with Rosie was her straining over the poop pile.  She did pass some poop but stayed at the poop pile a long time, even chewing her cud as she stood there.   Finally she took a couple of steps and then cushed close to the poop pile – hmm something was definitely going on.

Rosie stayed cushed for a while but then kicked her legs out to the side a little.  After a while she laid on her side, still chewing her cud, again an unusual behavior.  I stood close to Rosie and watched her for a while.  She was not groaning and did not seem to be distressed.  There was a little movement of the cria towards Rosie’s rear but no contractions that I could see.  Rosie didn’t look puffy in the rear end and so I started to wonder if she was just in the process of rearranging the cria.  I decided to give her a little longer to see how things progressed.

About 30 minutes later Rosie was happily eating at the hay rack and I was starting to think that perhaps she was not in labor at all, but at the next check (about another 30 minutes) while Rosie was still heartily eating there was another change.  Now Rosie was puffy under the tail and the other girls were occasionally sniffing her.

So who knows or as the title of this entry says “Will she or wont she?”  It is difficult to say, this is only Rosie’s second cria and with her first cria she showed no signs of impending labor and then delivered her cria at night.  Fortunately I do nightly checks on the pregnant girls and discovered Rosie in labor that time.

My suspicion as I write this blog entry (it is now just past noon on Sunday) is that Rosie may be in the early stages of labor and that we may have a cria this afternoon or tonight.  Then again perhaps what I witnessed was just a change that indicates the advancement of Rosie’s pregnancy.  Time will tell, and until the time the cria is born we will be playing the will she or won’t she game.

Rosemary

November 4, 2008

A Little Late But Still Very Handsome

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Reproduction, Alpacas, camelids, Cria Care, Crias, General — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 6:37 am

Kimmies Cria- the last of the fall crias to be born

Kimmies Cria- the last of the fall crias to be born

On Monday morning Kimmie decided to stop keeping us in suspense and finally delivered her cria!  It was a beautiful warm morning and Kimmie had not shown any signs of labor during morning feeding, but shortly after her usual session at the hay feeder she started labor.

 

Kimmie was huge prior to giving birth and looked as if her cria was lying transverse across her abdomen, but Kimmie’s labor was routine and quick and within 30 minutes of the first noticeable sign of labor a beautiful boy was born.

 

Despite Kimmie’s size before giving birth her cria weighed 12.1 lbs – a surprise to all who know Kimmie as we were convinced she had a giant cria inside her.  Kimmie’s cria might be small but he is vigourous and sturdy and was on his feet looking for milk within 30 minutes of being born.  He is a dark fawn (or possibly a light brown) with shiny crimpy fiber and lots of it.

 

This little boy is Kimmie’s first cria and she is being a very good dam.  She clucks at him a lot and stands absolutely still while he nurses.  Looking at the size of Kimmie’s udder this little guy will never be short of milk!

 

So the last of the fall crias have been delivered and we have been fortunate to have beautiful weather for the crias to be born in.  We have had a few nights where the temperature has dipped below freezing but usually by this time of the year we are having snow and cold days.  Lets hope that we can have a few more warm days to let Kimmie’s boy get a good start in life.

 

 

Rosemary

October 26, 2008

Another New Arrival With An Interesting Quirk

 

Yesterday was a beautiful warm sunny day, too nice for one of the three remaining pregnant girls not to give birth.  This time it was Melody’s turn.

 

Melody is a maiden alpaca, so this was her first time birthing.  She went into labor shortly after she had been fed, taking herself away from the herd, sitting rolled on one hip and flaring at the nostrils.   Melody made several visits to the poop pile, initially passing poop and then not passing anything.  Textbook signs of labor in an alpaca.

 

Melody’s labor progressed well and I could start to see a nose arriving.  It looked dark and I called Melody’s owners (Bob and Regina Dart) to give them an update.  I went into the house to get my usual collection of supplies and towels and when I came out I could see more of the crias nose was presented but the amniotic sac was still in tact.  As I looked at the cria I could see that it was actually had a light nose but it looked dark because the amniotic fluid was a deep yellow color.

 

Usually the amniotic fluid on an alpaca cria is a clear color, I had not seen this yellow color before.  I burst the sac to release some pressure, which would help Melody make some progress.

 

The delivery went well, and Melody delivered a beautiful white male cria, except he wasn’t quite white, he was bright yellow toward the rear!  Bright yellow is certainly not on the color chart of the Alpaca Registry, so what was the deal with this bright yellow coloring?

 

In addition to the bright yellow we could see the cria had what appeared to be poop on his hind legs.  By this time Bob Dart had arrived along with Mitch Murry from Sandy Acres Alpaca Farm, who was visiting Bob and Regina.

 

We decided a call to the vet was in order, our concern being that maybe Melody had torn some of her bowel during birth.  Being a Saturday the vet’s phone went to his voicemail so we waited for him to call back.

 

In the meantime Bob called Regina to tell her the latest news on the cria and Regina got on her computer and did some research to see if she could find any reference to bright yellow amniotic fluid and feces in the amniotic fluid.  Regina quickly found a reference to just what we were seeing, except it was in goats.

 

Apparently sometimes prior to or during labor and delivery goat kids can pass their Meconium while still in the amniotic sac.  This causes the yellow coloring and poop on the cria’s hind legs that we were seeing.  This does not usually cause any problems with the cria unless the birth is difficult and the cria aspirates the fluid into the lungs.  Melody’s cria had a good birth, certainly not traumatic so it seemed as if everything would be okay.

 

I later went online and found a reference to this situation in goats at http://goat-link.com If you scroll down to the heading “Meconium” you will be able to read a little about this condition and if you scroll a little further you will see a picture of a goat kid whose fleece looks like Melody’s cria’s fleece did due to meconium staining.

Feeling a little more reassured that all would be okay with Melody and her cria we went about the usual routine of drying of the cria, dipping his naval and ensuring he was able to get up and nurse from his dam.

 

Melody seemed fine for the rest of the day, eating hay and keeping an anxious “new mother” eye on her cria.   Her cria nursed and slept as newborn crias do.

 

Today is supposed to be another nice day and so it would not surprise me if we have another cria born, only this time it will most likely not be yellow!

 

Rosemary

October 2, 2008

Sneaky, Sneaky!

 

Dutchess and Cria - not the best picture, better picture to follow!

Dutchess and Cria - not the best picture, better picture to follow!

Once in a while you come across an alpaca dam that doesn’t give you much of an indication that she is about to deliver her cria –such was the case with Dutchess who sneakily delivered a beautiful 17.7 lb male cria yesterday afternoon.

 

Around 10 a.m. Dutchess’s owner Regina Dart had called me on my cell phone; I think she must have had a premonition as she asked me if I was out tending to one of her dams having a cria.  I was actually bottle feeding Mags and Song when Regina called and so told Regina that all of her dams were looking good although I had noticed that Dutchesses pregnancy bump had dropped since yesterday.  Regina and I had our usual conversation about what was going on in our worlds and then I went about finishing chores.  I did check under Dutchess’s tail and look at her udder as I do for all of the late term dams, everything looked fine with no swelling or significant changes.

 

Interestingly Dutchess had shown some different behavior a couple of days ago.  We had a breeding going on in one of the pens close to the pasture where Dutchess is.  She and Essie (another of Regina’s pregnant girls) had come over and shown some interest in the breeding, an indication that their hormone levels might be changing as they reached the end of pregnancy. Dutchess though took things a step further, she eyed up Keeva who was cushed close by, walked up to her, started orgling and then tried to mount Keeva.  Keeva wasn’t having any of that, spit at Dutchess and got up.  Dutchess was persistent in her efforts to mount Keeva and so I entered the pasture and herded Dutchess away from Keeva.

 

Yesterday afternoon I was preparing to load product into the truck to go to our booth at The Crafter’s Mall.  As I walked out of the house I could hear a cria humming.  The sound was coming from the pregnant girls pen, but I could see Cinnamon’s cria walking around and he is a little chatterbox, so much so we have nick named him Beeper (we promise to give him a more impressive registered name but for now Beeper suits him!).

 

I went around to the studio to get the boxes of product ready to load, and then came back to the house a short while later to prepare Mags and Songs afternoon bottles.   As I fed Mags and Song I could still hear humming, but as I looked across the pasture I could see that Beeper was fast asleep in the sun.  I checked for Keeva’s cria (who we have nicknamed Sleeper because when she sleeps, she sleeps so soundly you can pick her up and move her into the shade when she is asleep and she will barely stir), Sleeper too was sound asleep.  I then checked for Anya’s cria Annochia as she still hums loudly when she wants Anya to let her nurse.  I could see Annochia and she was nudging at Anya, but she was in the opposite direction to the humming I could hear.  There was only one option left – a new cria!

 

I urged Mags to finish his milk quickly, Song had already finished hers and Mags was almost finished.  I then went over to the maternity pen and there sitting in the straw at the entrance to the shelter was a brand new cria!

 

Looking inside the shelter I could see that Dutchess must have delivered in there.  She has spent a lot of her time recently in front of the fan in the shelter and she must have felt most comfortable there.  Certainly she didn’t come out of the shelter to the poop piles or lie outside while she was having contractions, as I would have noticed her.

 

Of course I called Regina to give her the good news and asked her if she had a premonition when she called me earlier in the day.  I reckon Dutchess was sending telepathic messages her way (or maybe the fact that Dutchess’s due date was October 2 had something to do with it!).

 

Dutchess and her cria are doing well.  This is Dutchess’s third cria and she is an excellent dam, she is attentive and a great milk producer but definitely more hands off in her preferences when it comes to anyone handling her cria.  The cria is a sturdy boy with great bone density and an interesting fleece color, he is a medium to dark fawn but has more of an ash hue to his fleece than the more usual red tone that you tend to see in a fawn alpaca.  It may be that he is going to be a light rose grey, tomorrow when he is more settled in we will examine his fleece more thoroughly to see if we can determine a color.

 

So congratulations Bob and Regina on another beautiful cria from your herdsire Andean Night.  I don’t know what you are planning on naming him, but I think for now Beeper and Sleeper are going to have a new playmate called Sneaker!

 

Rosemary

 

 

September 29, 2008

When One Starts They All Start!

Keeva and her cria

Keeva and her cria

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon having her cria the day before National Alpaca Farm Days seemed to start the other pregnant dams thinking about birthing.

 

Saturday morning as I was telling Bethany, our teenage helper, our plans for the day, I looked across the pasture and could see something was different about Keeva.  Lying in the shade of our large blue shelter, with Carina (also due soon) next to her,  Keeva’s tail was making some funny movements – she was in labor.

 

Our cria kit was still in the front porch from Friday when Cinnamon delivered, so it was nice and handy, but my collection of towels and blankets that I use at alpaca births was still in the washing machine.  We made a quick raid on the towel cabinet before heading out to the pasture.  (Note – if you are planning on delivering crias at your alpaca farm a large collection of old blankets and towels is a good idea!)

 

By the time we got to Keeva she had the crias head presented, and shortly afterward two feet appeared.  The delivery went well and with a couple more contractions Keeva presented us with a beige, female cria.  This was such a difference from Keeva’s previous birthing when she had a terrible dystocia (badly presented cria) and had to have veterinary assistance, which ended up with us losing the cria.  This time all went smoothly for Keeva and Keeva was anxious to meet her new baby, sniffing and clucking at the birthing fluids on the ground before she fully delivered her cria.

 

Keeva’s little girl is about three weeks premature.  Keeva had been showing signs that she was not going to carry her cria to term (See blog entry Doing The Cria Dance, September 10, 2008) so we were not totally surprised at her early labor.  Fortunately the cria’s lungs are well developed and with the exception of her being quite sleepy and wobblier than a full term cria she is doing well.  Keeva’s cria is just a little thing weighing in at 13.3 lbs.  We did end up having to milk Keeva a couple of times and feeding the colostrum to her cria to get the cria started and give her a little strength, but by the early afternoon Keeva’s cria was able to get up on her own and nurse from Keeva without a problem.

 

Keeva's Cria Soaks Up Some Sun

Keeva's Cria Soaks Up Some Sun

 

Interestingly Keeva’s cria and Cinnamon’s cria are almost identical in looks.  If you part their fleece you can see that they have different fleece styles, but just looking at them in the pasture it is hard to tell them apart.  They do both have the same sire, Tobiano.  We were very careful to make sure that Cinnamon and Keeva recognized which cria was which once we put Keeva and her cria into the pasture for the rest of the day.

 

So our National Alpaca Farm Day visitors got to see a brand new cria and of course Cinnamons cria who had been born the day before.  They also got to see me looking a filthy mess from taking care of Keeva and her cria but they all understood. 

 

During the course of the day Carina also started to look uncomfortable, but she did not go into labor.  Probably just that uncomfortable day that alpaca dams have about two weeks before giving birth, which will put Carina close to her due date.  Dutchess is the next girl due to give birth, only time will tell if Cinnamon and Keeva have made her thoughts turn to delivering soon.

 

Rosemary

September 27, 2008

Just in Time For National Alpaca Farm Days

Cinnamon's New Cria

Cinnamon's new cria

 

Our first cria of the fall arrived yesterday at 12:35 pm.  Cinnamon delivered a healthy, vigorous beige boy who weighed in at 15.3 lbs.  Cinnamon’s cria is out of our dark male herdsire Tobiano, whose crias have all been in the 13 –15 lbs range so far.  They tend to be study little crias with broad chests and a very square frame and this little boy is no exception.

 

We had thought that the breeding of Cinnamon and Tobiano would produce color, but alpacas love to outwit us humans and Cinnamon and Tobiano combined gave us a beige cria.  Alpaca color genetics are so much fun!

 

Cinnamon’s little boy is a real character.  He tried to kick me when I dipped his naval, kicked out at Cinnamon when she sniffed him, was scratching his head with his hind leg before he could cush and boy can he talk!  He really is a chatty little fellow.  He was up on his feet looking good about an hour after being born, not wobbly at all, but steady and skipping around.  He also was hungry and took no time in finding Cinnamon’s udder, which had plenty of creamy colostrum.  I think the recent addition of a little alfalfa to our girls diet gave Cinnamon some help in the milk department, although Cinnamon’s dam Chai is an excellent milk producer and milk production does seem to be a heritable factor in alpacas as it is in other livestock species.

 

Cinnamon had a textbook delivery with no assistance required, she even took a break to chew her cud after the cria’s head and legs were delivered!  As I dried off Cinnamon’s cria, she stretched her neck out to me, looked me right in the eye and then planted a gentle alpaca kiss right on my forehead, what a sweet girl.

 

Although she is a maiden Cinnamon is proving to be an excellent mother, she is very attentive to her cria, humming to him and sniffing him and she stands stock still while he nurses from her.

 

So our visitors to our farm will have a special treat today as they see our new young man prancing round, checking out how fast his legs will carry him!  For this boy we are going to need a name that is full of spirit, vigor and character just like him!

 

Rosemary

August 25, 2008

Someone’s Alpacas Forgot to Read the Book!

Primadonna's Cria

Primadonna's Cria

 

 

 

Friday evening brought a phone call from Bob Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  One of the girls at their farm, Primadonna, had just delivered a cria at 7:30 pm.  Fortunately Friday evening was one of those beautiful still, warm New Mexico nights that we enjoy during the summer.

 

Typically alpacas give birth between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  It is thought that the reason for this is that in areas of South America where alpacas did much of their evolution the night time temperatures are very cool, by birthing during the warmer hours of the day the crias would dry off quicker and be up and around on their legs well before night fall.  Crias are usually up and around within an hour of birth and quite steady on their legs in a few hours after birth.

 

So what made Primadonna have her cria in the evening?  That’s a good question.  Interestingly we have noticed that most of the girls at the Darts farm birth in the late afternoon to early evening while ours birth in mid-morning to early afternoon.  There are only about 11 miles separating the two farms so we can hardly feel geography, weather or daylight are the factors involved.  The Darts and us have a running joke about how our girls birth during the typical alpaca hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. while their girls have obviously not read the book on alpaca behavior.  After all how can two farms so geographically close have such a difference in the behavior pattern of their birthing dams?

 

One factor we do wonder about is if it is the time of day that the alpacas receive their daily ration of pellets that effects their birthing time.  One of the few differences between our two farms is that we feed pellets in the morning and the Darts feed pellets in the evening.  I know some of my girls will absolutely not give birth until after the morning feed, so perhaps that is the influencing factor.

 

When we first came into the alpaca business we were told that deliveries that occurred late in the day were often dystocias (badly presented births), but that has not been the case with the Dart’s herd.  Neither has it been the case for two other herds that I am aware of who consistently experienced late day birthings.  One of those herds has now been sold and the alpacas are with various new owners so there is no way to check if they fed pellets later in the day.  The other herd was one I visited in England where the grazing was so lush that the owner just put out free choice minerals and did not feed her herd any form of supplemental feed. 

 

I think it would be interesting and fun to have an informal poll on birthing times.  So if you are an alpaca owner and are reading this blog, perhaps you can post a comment stating

 

  1. The time of day most of your births occur (early morning, mid morning, early afternoon etc.)
  2. When you feed your supplemental feed if in fact you feed any
  3. Your ideas as to why your births occur at that time of day

 

I look forward to reading your comments!

 

Rosemary

 

– and congratulations to Mitch and Twila Murry of Sandy Acres Alpaca Farm, Lakeview, Texas the new owners of Primadonna and her cria.  What a great start to their new alpaca venture!

May 14, 2008

Surprise – In more ways than one!

 

 

Queen and her New Cria

 

Well did we get a surprise yesterday, Queen had her cria early and we were not even home!

 

We left mid morning to go and shear alpacas for Jan and Corky Green of Muleshoe, Texas.  Knowing that we had several girls due and overdue we checked everyone thoroughly in the morning.  There were three girls who were slightly puffy under their tails and none of the pregnant girls was showing a well developed udder.  In maiden alpacas it is not unusual for them not to show many signs of imminent birth, but usually with your more experienced dams there are signs that birthing is not far away.

 

Having checked the girls thoroughly we watched their behavior for a while.  All of them were eating heartily and none of them were acting uncomfortably.

 

I was not entirely happy about leaving the girls for the day, but Jan and Corky were short of help with their shearing and after they had spent all of Sunday helping us with our shearing I hated to leave them in the lurch.  So I called Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas, our Clovis alpaca neighbors, and asked if they could check on our girls during the day just in case something happened.

 Head Shot of Queen\'s New Cria

Well happen it did!  When Bob came to check on the girls at 1:30 pm he discovered that Queen had delivered her cria, a beautiful medium brown boy out of our Color Champion Herdsire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel.  Bob says the cria was still wet when he found him so he could not have been born long.  Both the cria and Queen were doing well and Bob stepped into alpaca delivery mode and very kindly made sure that Queen passed her placenta, the cria was nursing well and dipped the crias naval in iodine.  He then put Queen and the cria in a pen with some hay and water to allow them time to bond.

 

As soon as Bob called me to give me the news I could tell from the chuckle in his voice that something had happened, his words were “Queen fooled you” and fool us she did!

 

Just before leaving we had seen Queen on the poop pile.  She only visited it once and she was not at all puffy in her tail area.  We watched as she waddled off to a different area of the pasture, she didn’t lie down, but rather stopped and looked over her shoulder at us as if to say “What do you two want”.   (Bob thinks she was actually telling us to hurry up and leave so she could have her cria in peace!)

 

Queen is an independent alpaca and out of all of the girls she is the one who I would expect to want to wait until we are out of the way before giving birth.  She is an experienced dam and I was with her last year when she gave birth and then she gave definite signals that she was in labor.  With that pregnancy she was two weeks overdue, with this one she was early.

 

 

 

Thankfully all went well with Queens labor and we have a lovely 20.1 lb boy to watch as he gallops around the pasture.  As huge as Queen was prior to giving birth I am glad she delivered a little early as if her cria had been much bigger I wonder if it would have been a difficulty birth.  Thankfully too we have such good alpaca neighbors and friends in Bob and Regina who were able to come out and check on the girls for us – and who knew what to do when they found a new cria to deal with.  Thank you Bob and Regina!

 

So today we are scheduled to do some more shearing for Valerie Smith in Plainview, Texas, but after yesterday’s experience with Queen I am afraid Ric will be going to Plainview on his own and I will be staying home to watch pregnant alpacas who will no doubt decide that as I have stayed home none of them will give birth!

 

Rosemary

March 12, 2008

It’s Going To Be Busy In May!

As spring approaches our thoughts turn to spring crias.  Already a couple of the unborn crias can be seen kicking their mothers during the day.  Bjorn’s cria is especially active and does a merry dance most evenings.

In preparation for the birthing season I have run my due date report and May is going to be a really busy month as we have the majority of our females due to give birth that month.  They start off from the 5th May and continue on right through to the beginning of June.  Of course crias like babies come when they are ready, not when we want them to, so we will have to be prepared for flexibility on both ends of the birthing schedule.

I had better make sure I have my supply cupboard is replenished and that I have plenty of cria coats on hand in case the evenings are still a little chilly.  I have already spoken to our vet’s office to make sure he is not planning on taking a vacation that month, hopefully everything will be smooth sailing with the births but I want to know that he is available should we need him.

While it will be a busy month at least we will have the majority of births within a short time and just imagine all the fun those crias are going to have playing together.

I really like to have several crias in the same age group at the same time, they just seem to thrive better than a single cria among a bunch of adult alpacas, I think the companionship of the other crias stimulates them more.  That’s not to say it is wrong to have just one cria among a bunch of adults, sometimes that is inevitable and we have had that situation from time to time.  The other advantage of having several crias born at the same time is that should there be milk production problems with one of the dams we may be able to encourage a cria to nurse off a different dam as we did with little Zeus earlier this year.

At the same time that all the crias are being born we will also be entering shearing season.  It is going to take some juggling, but with us shearing our own alpacas it gives us the advantage of being able to allow a dam to give birth and bond with her cria prior to shearing her.  If we had a hired shearer coming in we would have to shear on the date he was here and that may not be the best for a dam in the very late stages of pregnancy.

So it’s going to be a busy May, but I hope it will also be an enjoyable one with lots of beautiful crias to watch and some happy sheared alpacas by the end of the month.

Rosemary

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