A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 21, 2009

The First of the Farm Visitors Arrive

 

Yesterday afternoon our friend and fellow alpaca breeder Dale Amer arrived at the farm bringing with him a date for one of our alpaca boys.  Dale drove from Alexandria, Louisiana, a long drive especially when you are hauling a trailer with a female alpaca and her young cria.

 

We had the quarantine pen set up ready for the arrival of the two alpacas, and Orchid (the adult female) and her cria Candytuft soon made themselves at home.  Our girls all lined up at the fence line to view the new arrivals and our fall crias were very curious about Candytuft, staring at her through the fence and watching her explore the quarantine pen.  To keep Orchid and Candytuft company we also put our two non-reproductive females Primera and Ma Cushla in the quarantine pen.  It is so nice to have a couple of females who we can use for quarantine companions, especially when you only have one or two alpacas arriving to go into quarantine.  Alpacas really do like to be in groups and by providing Primera and Ma Cushla as companions we find that the visiting alpacas soon settle down and start to feel at ease.

 

Dale is a relatively new alpaca breeder and so today will be devoted to answering any burning questions he has and showing him how we manage our herd at our farm.  He will also get to select which male he wishes to breed Orchid to.

 

Orchid and Candytuft will remain in quarantine for three weeks and then we will breed Orchid.  Hopefully she will get pregnant easily and it won’t be too long before she is headed back to Louisiana, although in view of the long journey ahead of her she will probably not return home until she is at least 60 days pregnant.

 

What was good to see last night was that at dusk Candytuft was galloping around the pasture as a happy cria will do and Orchid was standing at the hayrack alongside Ma Cushla and Primera.  Looks like the long journey did not bother our two visitors too much!

 

In the next few days we will have another visiting alpaca arrive – breeding season is definitely starting and according to our herdsires it’s not a moment too soon!

 

Rosemary

January 3, 2009

Homeward Bound

Friday saw the return home of three alpaca girls who had been here for breeding, Moonshadow, Ariana and Sonora.  Picked up by their owners Marilyn Knudsen and Roberto Ibarra of Altiplano Alpacas and Melita Clark and Mark Hogan of Milagro Meadow Alpaca Ranch, the girls wasted no time getting started on happily munching the hay that was in their trailer.

 

We had a great visit with Marilyn, Roberto, Melita and Mark catching up on our news and showing off our alpacas to them.  Later in the year we will hear from them as the girls deliver their crias and hopefully we will get a chance to see those crias either at their farms on the show circuit.  It is always pleasing to catch up with the offspring of our herdsires and see how they turned out. 

 

Offering alpaca breeding services at our farm is enjoyable to us and of course contributes to the farm income.  To me it is great to greet new arrivals, get to know their different personalities and send them home pregnant with a much anticipated cria.  To be able to make a positive contribution to another alpaca breeders breeding program brings us great satisfaction.

 

During their stay here, visiting alpacas are treated just like all of the other alpacas in our herd and become part of the “alpaca family” so as to say.  There is often a slight tinge of sadness when they leave us, accompanied by happiness from their owners who are glad to be reunited with their alpacas again.

 

Often alpaca breedings run smoothly, with the girls being ready to be bred and getting pregnant on the first or second breeding attempt.  Occasionally we run into a problem such as a retained CL, an immature maiden, uterine infections or hormonal imbalances.  When such problems occur we work closely with the owner and our vet to try and end up with a good result.  In all of our years of offering alpaca breedings there have only been two times that we have been unable to achieve a pregnancy, a good ratio for us, but of course not good news for the owners of the alpacas concerned.

 

We were careful to get some experience of breeding alpacas before we started offering breeding services to other breeders.  The natural growth of our herd enabled us to breed several of our own females before advertising for business from other farms.  Educational seminars were also a big help, although there are always going to be scenarios that crop up that are not covered and that challenge you. 

 

It is a big responsibility to take on the care and reproductive future of another farms alpacas and it was important to us to at least have some experience and success under our belts before taking on that responsibility.   As time progressed we learned the benefits of having a good contract, clear and frequent communication, a quarantine protocol, a good vet, a good network of alpaca breeders to refer to and a thorough understanding of alpacas.  All of those things help make our job easier and contribute to a successful alpaca breeding.

 

So now Moonshadow, Ariana and Sonora are back at their home farms and we have three less alpacas in our care.  It always amazes me how just having three less makes a difference to the herd, things seemed a little quieter when I did chores the evening after the girls left and there was a definite reduction in the amount of poop in the poop piles!  I am sure it won’t be long though before new visitors arrive and we will have new alpacas to get acquainted with.

 

Rosemary

October 19, 2007

Preparations for Fall Breedings

Now the cooler weather is here it is time for us to start breeding the alpaca girls who are open (not yet bred).  Most of our girls were bred for spring crias but there are a few who still need to be bred.  Clarissa birthed later than expected in the spring and we were unable breed her back due to the heat, Carina and Zoie have not long had their crias and are at the point when it would be good to breed them back.  Keeva and Cinnamon did not get pregnant during the spring breeding season.  Keeva had a bad dystocia the previous winter and was given a good break after that to let her recover and Cinnamon is a maiden female who we tried to breed in the spring but was apparently not quite ready for breeding.  Cinnamon has now turned two so we are optimistic that she will become pregnant this fall.

We have made our decision as to which herdsire will be bred to each girl and so will now start the breeding process.  Before breeding the girls though there are a few things to take care of.  Clarissa and Carina were due for vaccination and so we vaccinated them yesterday and will wait a few days before breeding them.  We used to vaccinate our pregnant girls two weeks prior to delivery of their cria, but recent studies show that some female alpacas get stressed over the vaccination process causing them to go into labor early.  We don’t want to risk losing a cria, but do need to make sure that the girls get their booster shots and so have taken to giving the vaccinations in the period between them birthing and breeding.  So far this has worked well and we have not seen any disadvantages, the dams do well and the crias born fromthe breedings subsequent to the dam’s vaccinations have good IgG results.

After Keeva’s dystocia we had her examined by our vet to check that she was still reproductively sound.  Our vet found her to be in good condition considering all that Keeva went through but did have to remove one small stricture of scar tissue in the birth canal.  We have also run a uterine culture on Keeva to make sure she does not have a uterine infection.  Low-grade uterine infections can occur in female alpacas and often the alpaca does not show any symptoms of having an infection.  The infection is often enough to prevent a pregnancy though. 

With Keeva’s results back and looking good and the vaccinations completed we will now be able to start to breed the girls.  

I am traveling to Louisiana today to attend the Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo, according to my travel information I should have access to the Internet from my hotel room and should be able to squeeze in a blog entry or two.  Ric will be staying home on “cria watch” with Chai, her due date is Sunday and her past two crias were both born exactly on the due date so the chances are Ric will be busy with a new cria this weekend.  I hate to miss the birthing of one of our crias, but at least Ric can be home to man the fort.  You can bet I will be waiting for my phone to ring on Sunday with good news! 

Rosemary

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