A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 4, 2008

Found Him!

Well the watching and waiting paid off, we have found the culprit with the diarrhea, it’s Atlas.

 

Atlas is the oldest of our cria group and so is definitely trying out the hay, but he also is a milk thief and has tried milk from several of the dams in the pasture.  Atlas is a pretty good milk thief too, he waits until the dams’ cria is happily nursing and the dam is not paying attention and then sneaks his head under the dam to steal some milk.  Our older dams are wiser and realize pretty quickly that they have an intruder, but some of the younger dams take a while to realize.

 

We do discourage Atlas when we see him nursing from other dams, we do not want him depriving the other crias of their milk or putting an unnecessary strain on the dams.  We do allow Atlas to nurse from our llama Inca, as she does not have a cria of her own and actively encourages crias to nurse from her (see blog entry Hey Llama Lady – Got Milk to read more about Inca)

 

Atlas does of course have his own dam Queen to nurse from, but Queen is an experienced dam who has very definite rules for her crias, one of which is that they don’t nurse from her until she has had a good chance to pick out the best hay.  Once she has finished at the hay feeder she will find her cria and allow nursing, but until then she makes her crias wait.   Queen’s crias are always robust and outgoing so I guess her rules work for her and her crias.

 

We have started Atlas on the MSE drench and Biosponge and he has shown some improvement, he will be under a close watch until he gets back to normal and if he does not continue to improve we will look at other causes and treatment options. 

Funnily enough the picture I used for yesterday’s blog entry is a picture of Atlas wrestling with Dream, maybe my subconscious knew all along which cria has diarrhea and was trying to tell me!

 

Rosemary

October 15, 2007

Hey Llama Lady – Got Milk?

Zeus Nursing Inca

Well it looks as if little Zeus has found yet another milk source to feed his appetite.  I took this picture on Saturday after evening chores.   A few minutes earlier both Carissima and Zeus were nursing from Inca the llama but by the time I grabbed the camera Carissima had decided that she wanted to play and had moved away.

I’m not sure if Inca has got milk at this stage, usually once she starts allowing crias to nurse from her she takes a few days before her milk actually comes in.  Inca is the one who is initiating this; she follows the crias around and then nudges them underneath her and encourages them to nurse.  She has never had a cria of her own but this is not the first time she has encouraged crias to nurse from her and on previous occasions she has produced milk.  It is fairly unusual for an alpaca to allow a cria other than her own to nurse from her (unless she is like Carissima’s dam Carina and easily distracted with a bowl of good hay at which time she allows Zeus to nurse from her), but from what the ladies at Southwest Llama Rescue tell me it is not unusual for a llama to allow other crias to nurse from her.

Inca typically waits until the crias are at least a few weeks old before she starts encouraging them to nurse, our theory is that by that time they are about the size of a llama cria and so she feels more attracted to them.  Maya and Griffin our other two llamas have not yet allowed a cria to nurse from them but the other morning Maya was standing with Carissima under her while Inca had Zeus under her so it may be that Maya will soon be joining the “milk bar”.

Zeus is now up to 21 lbs.  It has been a slow and erratic road to get him to this point with some days showing very little gain and others having greater gain, but at least we are seeing a steady gain which is a good thing.  He has now started nibbling on hay and today we found him eating some soaked beet pulp shreds.  Zeus still gets to nurse from Carina a couple of times a day while she is distracted with the alfalfa hay, any calories we can get into him are good calories.

We are very fortunate to have a llama that will come into milk for our crias, I know of another alpaca breeder who uses goats to feed alpaca crias who need extra milk, although with goats being so short that conjures up quite the picture in my head!  With the llamas there is plenty of room for that cria to stand and nurse even as he grows up, so we will stick with our llama girls and look forward to Zeus showing even better weight gain.

Rosemary

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