A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 7, 2009

So Which Handsome Prince Created Sleeping Beauty?



Sleeper Enjoys Some Hay

Sleeper Enjoys Some Hay

I finally got around to sending in the last of the fall cria ARI registrations the other day. With the online registration complete, I mailed in the crias blood cards for DNA analysis for parentage verification. We often wait before sending in our ARI registrations for a few reasons. First we want to make sure that the cria makes it through the first few months of life. You hate to think of losing a cria but if does happen then it is usually within the first 30 days of its life. Some may argue that it would be useful to have the cria registered for the national herd records, but at the end of the day economics comes into play and to me it does not make sense to pay to register a cria who is no more.


Another reason we hold off registering our crias is that sometimes they change color as they mature. We have had several crias who start off beige at birth and change to white by the time they are six months old. Our Kanika looked to be dark brown or bay black when she was born but by the time we came to shear her she was the most beautiful true black. A client of ours delivered his dam to us for breeding with her white cria by her side. When he came to pick his dam and cria up he was surprised to see that the cria’s fleece was no longer white. The fleece looked white from the outside but when you parted the fleece the fiber inside was a definite light fawn (and no it was not staining from our red dirt!). Crias definitely can change color.


So often our crias are five or six months old before we register them, sometimes even older.


The registrations I sent off the other day were for Chandra and Sleeping Beauty (whom we call Sleeper) and they are both definitely older than six months. Interestingly in my herd book I show that Chandra and Sleeper could both have been conceived on the same day November 11,2007. I say “could” have been conceived on the same day because when it came to their birth dates there was quite a bit of difference. Sleeper was born on September 27, 2008 and Chandra was born on October 17, 2008. Chandra’s birth date is in the range of her being a full term cria. Sleeper would have been a little premature (and that was the note I had in my herd book).


Going back a little further in the herd book I could see that Sleeper’s Dam Keeva bred about three weeks prior to the November 11 breeding, so maybe that was the breeding that resulted in Sleeper, if so that would mean that Sleeper’s sire is our herdsire Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure rather than our herdsire Tobiano – hmmm…


My records show that we had tried breeding Keeva to Treasure but the breeding didn’t seem to take. As Treasure was in his first breeding season we didn’t like to force the issue and so decided to put Keeva with Tobiano instead at the next breeding attempt. Tobiano and Keeva bred without a problem and from then on Keeva was not receptive to any male alpacas, so we assumed that Keeva was carrying a Tobiano cria.


Thankfully when you go to register a cria you have the option to list two potential sires, and so that is what I did the other day. I personally feel that Sleeper is Tobiano’s cria, she has certain traits that I have seen before in his offspring and Keeva as an experienced dam is not likely to cush for a male when she is already pregnant.


Now we will wait and see what Sleeper’s DNA blood card reveals – is she a Treasure cria or a Tobiano cria? Time and DNA will tell.



October 24, 2007

The Wonders of New Technology

Yesterday our vet came out to do the blood draw on Chai’s cria to test her IgG levels and run her BVD PCR Test.  We also put a little of the blood drawn from the cria on her DNA registration card so that we can send it in to confirm her parentage and get her registered with the Alpaca Registry, Inc.  The blood draw went well, our little girl was dozing when the vet arrived and he managed to quickly draw the blood before she even fully woke up.

While the vet was here we also had him take a look at Chai who has been experiencing some joint soreness in the latter stage of her pregnancy.  Chai has been a bit better since delivering her cria, so perhaps the cria was pushing on a nerve, but I hate to assume things and so asked the vet to run a couple of blood tests on her to see if anything unusual shows up.  Chai is a strong girl and not much of a “hands on” alpaca so I wasn’t sure how her blood draw would go, but once we had caught her she did really well and only needed the lightest of pressure to hold her steady while the blood was drawn.  I always like to start off with a light hold on the alpacas when we are doing anything with them, while sometimes more restraint is necessary it can also cause panic and make the alpaca struggle.  Most often with alight touch and a calm attitude the procedure can be managed easily and with less stress to all involved.

During my conversation with the vet I mentioned Chai’s skin abscess on her lower jaw.  I had not drained it since before I left for Louisiana as it was painful for Chai to do so and I felt it was too stressful at that time in her pregnancy.  Now she has had her cria though I have drained it and cleaned out the area and yesterday applied the All Animal Poultice from Eagle Peak Herbals  that I had recently purchased.  Our vet was interested in the product and has asked me to let him know how effective I find it.  One thing that really appeals to me about the All Animal Poultice is that even on such an awkward area as the jaw line I can apply it and it stays on without needing any sort of bandage or dressing.  This morning I will remove the poultice and most likely will leave the abscess open through the day to see if there is any more drainage from it.  If so I will apply the poultice again and then keep the routine of cleaning off the poultice, checking the abscess for drainage and reapplying the poultice as necessary.  Sometimes these facial abscesses take a while to heal, but hopefully the poultice will speed up that process.

The blood tests we are running on Chai are a CBC (Complete Blood Count) and a Chemistry Panel.  I asked our vet where he would be sending the blood for processing and he then told me he had just acquired some new equipment that means he will be able to run the tests in office.   He told me that when he had been talking to the sales representative of the company that sells the equipment he had specifically asked if the equipment could process alpaca blood.  Many people would think that alpaca blood is not different from the blood of any other species but it is different, the red blood cells are elliptical in shape as opposed to round and this fact alone means that some equipment is unable to accurately process alpaca blood.  Our vet’s new equipment can indeed process alpaca blood and is also already in use at the second largest alpaca farmin the US.

From what the vet was telling us this really is state of the art equipment.  It uses a laser light to count the blood cells and also automatically creates a document of the results that is then stored on a computer.  After an animals name has been entered in the computer each time the vet runs further tests on that animal the computer will put all of the results for that animal in one file so that the vet has a complete picture of the blood work of that animal and past blood work on that animal too.  For tests such as a Chemistry panel whereas in the past we would have to run the full panel, this new equipment can either run a full panel or test the individual areas that are suspected of having a problem.

It just amazes me how technology continues to progress and the services that can be provided.  Now we will be able to get our blood work results sooner and our vet will have a much easier time looking at all of the results at the same time.  Having said that we are going to have to wait a little while for Chai’s Chemistry Panel results as our vet had to order the special slides to run that test, but once he has those slides on hand we will not have that delay in the future.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Chai’s blood work does not show anything seriously wrong with her and that within a short while we will have her looking good again.  Ric and I have already decided that unless the blood results show Chai to be in excellent health we will most likely not breed her until the spring, and work in the mean time on getting her back to optimum health.  To us it is important that our breeding dams are in top condition, they have a lot of stress and strain on them during pregnancy and we feel that as they are good enough to produce us great crias the least we can do is make sure that they are in tip top condition to do so.


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