A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 21, 2009

Alpaca Reunion

We had several alpaca reunions over the weekend starting first with the return of Anya to our farm.

 

Anya now belongs to Terri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch in Amarillo, Texas and last weekend we had taken Zin and Regent over to Terri’s ranch to breed Shiimsa and Anya. All went well with Zin and Shiimsa but Anya was not in the mood for breeding! In fact Anya was far from in the mood, running hard, spitting and even trying to get out of the stall – definitely not receptive. Anya’s reaction to the male was so dramatic that we started to wonder if she could have a retained CL or somehow be pregnant.

 

The pregnancy theory was a remote one, Terri had her two male alpacas Opie and Rian gelded after she purchased them and then kept them separated from the girls for at least three weeks. Terri did try and put the two gelded boys in with the girls but that was unsuccessful as she came out to the pasture one day to find Anya cushed and Opie acting as if he was breeding her. If Anya had cushed for Opie there was a chance that Opie’s act of breeding her could have been a factor in causing a retained CL.

 

We talked the situation over with Terri and decided to have her test Anya with Opie during the week to see if Anya’s reaction changed. About the middle of the week Terri reported that Anya seemed a little more flirty and so we made a plan for Anya to come over to our farm to see what happened when she was put in with Regent.

 

Saturday morning arrived and so did Terri and Anya. Thankfully Anya did cush for Regent this time and we will keep our fingers crossed that the breeding results in a pregnancy. Terri has left Anya with us for the next week or so in order that we may test Anya with a male to gauge if she might be pregnant.

 

It was fun to see Anya again and she settled right in, making her way to the feeding pen where we always fed her, checking out the hay feeders and of course sniffing and greeting her old pasture mates. What was interesting to me was that Anya’s dam Bjorn and sister Keeva were among the first in the herd to come and see Anya.

 

The other reunions arose from one simple act. Allowing the weanling alpacas back in the main herd. It didn’t take them long to find their mothers and by the evening each weanling was cushed at its dams side reinforcing once more the strong family bond that alpacas have.

 

So by Saturday evening our pasture was filled with happy alpaca families and hopefully a newly pregnant Anya.

 

Rosemary

July 6, 2009

Au Revoir Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Sunday saw the departure of Shiimsa and Rio from our farm.  Their new owner Terri Faver collected them so that they could start their new life at Terri’s farm, Almost Canyon Ranch in Canyon, Texas.

Shiimsa is a little bit of a nervous girl and so we gave her some Rescue Remedy to help relax her during her move and also gave both Shiimsa and Rio some MSE Probiotic and Enzyme drench to help their digestive systems adjust to the change in their surroundings.

Shortly after we had finished morning chores we loaded Shiimsa and Rio into Terri’s trailer and they were on their way.  The day was a nice cool one, ideal for traveling alpacas.  Shiimsa showed some concern by humming as we loaded her up, but what she didn’t realize was that once she arrived at her new home she would be reunited with Anya and Serenity who Terri had also purchased from us.  As far as Rio was concerned as long as his dam was there all was okay, I am sure he will miss playing with our other crias, but hopefully Serenity will feel still young enough to join in with his cria games.

What Shiimsa and Rio were also unaware of was that they will soon have access to grass pasture, as Terri has been working hard to get her pastures set up so that the alpacas can go out and graze.  Now that will make them happy!

So we said our farewells to Shiimsa and Rio, but it was really more a case of Au Revoir as we will be seeing them next weekend when we take Regent and Zin over to Terri’s ranch next weekend to breed Anya and Shiimsa.

Rosemary

March 3, 2009

A Matter of Dynamics

 

Like many species alpacas definitely have dynamics within their herd.   Usually there are one or two leaders, a bunch of middle range alpacas and then some who are bottom of the pecking order in the herd.

 

With the departure of Anya, Serenity, Opie and Rian I have noticed some changes in the behavior of the herd.  The boy’s pen has been pretty much the same indicating to me that Opie and Rian held positions somewhere in the middle of the herd.

 

In the girls pen the most interesting change has been in the reaction of the herd at feeding time.  Anya was always the first to greet me at the gate, anxiously pushing her head in any feed bowls I was carrying.  The rest of the herd would be not far behind Anya, but it seems as if they took their cue from her behavior.

 

When I went to feed for the first time since Anya left there were a couple of minutes when the herd just stood and looked at each other as if to say, “well now what shall we do?”  No one rushed to the gate and there wasn’t the usual vying to get closest to the food bowls.  With Anya being gone they didn’t have her cue to tell them that it was time to eat.  It was funny not to be mobbed by alpacas the moment I walked through gate.

 

Eventually Ivanna, who usually eats with Anya and Rose Marie, stepped up and took the lead, coming over to see what I had and following me over to the feeding pens and that was enough to kick the whole feeding process in motion.  Once the herd saw Ivanna’s actions they were not far behind her.

 

Feeding time was definitely less noisy and frantic than usual, not that Anya is a noisy alpaca but I think the herd just wasn’t reacting as usual.  Given time I am sure they will adjust to Anya’s absence, with Ivanna now being the one that the herd will watch for to tell them it is feeding time.  It’s just a matter of adjusting the herd dynamics.

 

Rosemary

March 2, 2009

Introducing Almost Canyon Ranch

Terri and Anya Get Acquainted

Terri and Anya Get Acquainted

 

 

 

Sunday was a special day as we delivered four of our alpacas to their new owner.  Anya, Serenity, Opie and Rian all made the trip to Amarillo, Texas to the home of Terri Faver.

 

Terri had contacted us in February and arranged a farm visit, during that visit Opie just fell in love with Terri, allowing her to scratch his neck and asking for more when she stopped.  And so the magical spell of alpacas was cast on Terri and her decision was quickly made to purchase a package of alpacas to establish her new herd.

 

Terri was very much looking forward to the arrival of her new herd and had spent time preparing their pens and feeding area so that it was perfect for their arrival.  The alpacas were a little nervous at first, which is only natural; it will take them a few days to settle in to their new surroundings.  Rian seemed to settle in the easiest, having found the hay feeder he started to happily munch on hay.  Opie was a little distracted by the fact that he had Anya and Serenity in the pen next to his and was doing a little flirting with Anya and pacing the fence line.

 

Little Serenity was unsure of what was going on, for her this is her first time away from our farm and the companions she has grown up with, but she is familiar with Anya who will be a stabilizing influence for her.    Anya checked out the hay and water, established a poop pile in her pen and then checked out her new surroundings.  Anya definitely has an alpha female personality and will, I am sure, soon be ruling the roost at her new home.  While she seemed a little disgruntled with me for the move I think once she realizes that at feeding time the only two in line for the goodies are Serenity and her she will change her attitude.  Anya loves her food and also loves attention both of which she will be receiving in plenty from Terri.

 

In time another of our alpacas will also be moving to Terri’s farm for Terri has also purchased Shiimsa, but as Shiimsa is due to have a cria in June we felt it best for Shiimsa to remain here until her cria is born to keep her stress levels at their lowest.  I am sure that Anya and Serenity will be excited to see Shiimsa once she joins them later in the year.  In the meantime Terri will be making trips to come and visit Shiimsa, spend time with us learning more about herd health and herd management and when the time arrives visiting her new cria – how exciting!

 

I have enjoyed getting to know Terri over the last few weeks, her love of animals is easily apparent and I soon knew that she would provide a loving and caring home for her herd.

Terri has been thorough in her questions about raising alpacas and starting an alpaca business, with 18 years experience of raising sheep behind her the fundamentals of raising livestock come easily to her and she will soon adapt to the differences between the two species.  Terri has told us that she has learned so much about alpacas in the last few weeks and yet feels there is still so much she doesn’t know – a sentiment I am sure many new alpaca owners will relate to.

 

As we drove the alpacas over to Terri’s farm it dawned on me that this was the second time I had “delivered” each one of the alpacas in our trailer, as all four had been born on our farm and I was there for each ones delivery into the world.

 

In a way it is a bitter sweet moment when you sell alpacas off your farm, there is some sadness that they are leaving you but also happiness that they are going to bring joy and success to their new owner. 

 

Our Congratulations go to Terri on the purchase of her alpacas and the establishing of Almost Canyon Ranch, we look forward to seeing her herd grow and her business prosper!

 

Rosemary

February 27, 2009

There’s Nothing Quite Like Good Manners

Mile High Merry Me

Mile High Peruvian Merry Me

 

At feeding time alpacas are usually not shy in coming forward, they love their feed and as you walk into the pen you are met with the jostling of the herd as they vie for the position closest to the feed bowls.  In the girls pen our Anya is always first in the queue, with Theresa not far behind.  Rosie, Shiimsa, Velvet and Willow are normally in the next “row” in the hope that they too can get their noses in the feed bowls before anyone else does.  With the junior boys I know that Zeus and Blast will make a mad dash for the boxcar as they know that they get fed in there first, while in the adult boys pen Braveheart will always be first in line, reaching over your shoulder to get the first munch on the pellets.

 

Feeding time is definitely a time of bustling alpaca energy, so when we run into the occasional polite alpaca it almost takes us by surprise.

 

Mile High Peruvian Merry Me belongs to our alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart.  Merry Me is staying at our farm along with several other of the Dart’s breeding females who came here to deliver their cria.

 

Merry Me is a well built girl and would have no problem physically shoving another alpaca out of the way should she choose to do so, but that’s the thing with Merry Me, she never would do such a thing.

 

I think Merry Me is the most polite alpaca I have ever met.  Every morning when we feed she waits until her seven pen mates have entered their feeding pen before she even thinks about entering the pen herself.  Once her feeding companions are in place, then and only then will she come forward.  If there is another alpaca standing between Merry Me and the pen entrance she will not push past them, she will either gently walk around them or wait for me to move them out of her way.  This girl really does have good manners!

 

It took us a little while to realize why Merry Me would not rush into the feeding pen as the other alpacas do.  It’s not that she is shy, it’s not that she is timid, she is just well mannered.   I’m not sure if Merry Me’s politeness is just her nature or whether her breeder taught her her manners, but what I am sure of is it is certainly nice to have such a polite alpaca on the farm.  Now if I can just get her to give some lessons in manners and etiquette to some of the others…

 

Rosemary

August 23, 2008

A Case of Confused Hormones? (Or Perhaps What’s In Those Weeds!)

 

Primeira

Primeira

Male alpaca behavior is such that when an ungelded male alpaca comes in contact with a female alpaca he will usually start to orgle and then pursue her.    I have seen this behavior in little male crias just a few weeks old; it’s in the genes I guess.  Male alpacas will from time to time have wrestling matches, sometimes due to one male stealing the other’s place at the hay rack, sometimes because a beautiful female alpaca is nearby and sometimes just to reinforce their place in the hierarchy of the group.

 

Usually female alpacas are most concerned with eating, sunbathing and mothering their crias.  Occasionally the adult females will join in with the crias evening play session, its quite amusing to see a fully grown female pronging around the pasture the crias.  Of course when a cria is born the girls in the group are all keen to check out the new arrival.  When a male alpaca is brought over for breeding to one of the females it is not unusual to have several of the females come over and sniff him, sometimes following him over to the breeding pen, other times snorting in disgust and returning to the serious business of eating.

 

Wednesday evening as I finished chores TeQueely came over and did her usual dance by the gate, trying to get my attention (at which she was successful) and letting me know that she was looking for a tasty treat. 

 

There are some weeds on our property that I know are safe for the alpacas to eat and which they are particularly fond of, so I stopped to give TeQueely a handful, knowing that if I failed to do so I would be subjected to disgusted stares from her for the rest of the evening (She has me well trained)

 

As I fed TeQueely one of the other girls Primera came to see if she could get a treat too and so I fed the girls some more weeds including a little bit of green tumbleweed that they seem quite partial too.

 

Having given the girls some attention I went into the house to get ready to visit one of the neighbors.  On my way out of the house as I passed the girls pasture I heard a commotion – spitting, squealing and grunting.  Looking across to see what the commotion was I could see that Primera was trying to breed Anya, one of our adult females.

 

Naturally Anya was not too thrilled with Primera’s attention and was letting her know her displeasure by spitting and squealing, but Primera was not being deterred by Anya’s actions.

 

I decided that I should intervene so went into the pasture and pulled Primera off Anya, but Primera was determined to mount Anya again.  After I had pulled Primera off Anya a couple of times I made Anya get up from her cushed position hoping that would help the situation.  Primera though decided that she would give Queen a try and jumped up and mounted her.  I removed Primera from Queen and stood holding her for a while, she was softly orgling (the noise a male alpaca makes during breeding) and was obviously not quite herself.  I stroked Primera for a while to try and calm her and divert her attention, this was quite remarkable as usually Primera will not let you near her unless she is in a catch pen, yet here she was standing quietly allowing herself to be stroked, looking at me with doe eyes.  Having calmed Primera down I felt that perhaps some form of distraction would help and went and got some of the pellets we feed the alpacas and spread them out in the feeding trays.  That did the trick; Primera’s mind went back to thinking about food.

 

This is the first time we have experienced a female alpaca getting amorous over another female alpaca.  I have heard from other alpaca breeders that once in a while they have witnessed that type of behavior but I don’t think it is a common thing.  From my experience working at a dairy prior to raising alpacas, I know that dairy heifers will often mount other heifers that are in heat.  At the dairy where I worked some of the heifers would wear chalk that would rub off on the backs of the heifers they mounted, indicating to the herdsman that the heifer with the chalk on her back was in heat.

 

So all I can think of Primera’s behavior was that Anya must have been in the right part of her ovarian cycle for her to emit a scent indicating she was ready for breeding.  Either that or there was something really strange in those weeds!

 

Rosemary

June 27, 2008

And It’s Back to the Cria Introductions with …….

Anacia as a new born

Windrush Anacia, daughter of our Windrush Anya.  Anacia was born on June 2nd, the sixth cria of our cria season.  When Anacia was born we were already bottling feeding Dream and taking care of little Legs as well as shearing.  Life was busy to say the least and the picture at the start of this post is the only one I have of Anacia when she was new born.  That’s a sure sign I was really busy when I only have one photo of a newborn cria!

 

Anacia was a big cria, weighing in at 21.7 lbs.  Her dam Anya is a big girl, but this was her first pregnancy and the delivery was a little tricky.  First Anacia’s head only presented, then after we had eased Anacia’s legs out Anya became tired and stopped while Anacia’s rib cage was half delivered.  As I watched Anacia start to turn blue I knew that the contractions were squeezing hard on her rib cage and it was time to help with some gentle pulling to ease Anacia’s body out of Anya.  Having delivered Anacia past her rib cage and seeing her color return, I waited for her hind legs to be delivered, which is usually very quick.  Anya though was tired and took another break from delivery; Anacia now being very alert tried to cush while she only had the front end of her body out in the open!  I have not seen a cria do that before (and I should have had my camera there for that picture), so Anacia sat quite patiently until Anya gave one final contraction.

 

Poor Anya looked quite drawn down after delivering Anacia and the placenta.  We gave Anya some extra feed and hay, a cool bucket of water and some MSE drench to perk her up.  I also started her on a course of arnica in applesauce three times a day to help reduce soreness and swelling following delivery.

 

Anacia unfortunately picked up the same infection as Legs the day after she was born and so the first few days of her life were spent with her receiving antibiotic shots to fight the infection and banamine shots to keep her temperature down.  Fortunately Anacia made a full recovery and is now a healthy, hearty 35 lbs plus cria.  She loves to prong in the evening and is so pretty as she glides around the pasture leading the other crias in their nightly dance.

 

Anacia was beige when she was born, almost a very light champagne color, but we believe as she ages she will most likely be all white.  I am curious to see how her personality emerges, as her dam Anya is very outgoing and is always the first in line for food.  At feeding time it almost seems as if we have several Anya’s as where ever we go with the feed there is Anya.

 

I will try and capture a better picture of Anacia in the next day or so as she is a pretty girl and you really can’t see her well in my one and only picture!

 

Rosemary

February 22, 2008

Now Girls That’s Just Not Nice!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — Tags: , , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:52 am

On Tuesday I had to take Ric to the hospital.  He had been ill since before the TxOLAN show and when we tried to get him in to see the doctor they did not have any appointments available.  After hearing his symptoms the nurse who called me said I needed to take him in to the Quick Care Clinic at the hospital.  Ric wasn’t able to drive himself in and I had not even started chores yet.  Our friend Justus had called earlier to check on us and had offered to help if needed and so I called Justus and recruited him in to do the chores that morning.

The wait at the hospital was a long one; fortunately I took my knitting with me to pass the time.  We had just been taken back to one of the examination rooms when Justus called. 

On answering the phone Justus asked me if I wanted the good news or the bad.  I told him that I really didn’t mind which I received and asked him if there was a problem.  Justus then told me that he had carried over a bucket of hay to the girls pasture and set it down outside the gate.  He then went to get another bucket of hay and when he came back the gate was open and there wasn’t an alpaca or llama in sight!  Poor Justus, I can just imagine how he must have felt! 

So that was the bad news, the good news was he had found all of the girls and they were still on our property.  He had managed to get some of them back in the pasture but there were about nine of them and the three llamas that had found the haystack and were not willing to go back to their pasture.  I had to chuckle as I know how the llamas are when they don’t want to go back to their pasture, they are quite happy to lead you a merry dance around the property until they decide they have had enough fun for the day and then walk back into the pasture.

I called Bob Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas and fortunately he was able to drive over to our place to help Justus with the girls.  Not so fortunate was Bob’s wife Regina who had also come down with the flu.

Within a short time of Bob’s arrival all of the alpacas were back in their pasture.  By the time Bob arrived Justus had looked out some halters and had figured out that the sight of the halters alone was enough to get the girls moving away from the hay.

So how had the girls got out from their pasture?  I am pretty sure I know how and who the culprit was – Willow!  You see Willow is our escapologist alpaca, since the day she was born she has always loved to squeeze through small spaces (so much so that she had to be delivered by C-Section).  I always have to watch Willow in the mornings as she will be standing on the right hand side of the gate ready to make her break for freedom as soon as the gate is opened.  There have been a couple of times that she has nearly managed to get past me and I have ended up hanging on to her for dear life.  On one occasion I almost ended up riding Willow as she tried to duck between my legs as I walked into the pasture.  She is both fast and determined.

The gate was most definitely shut when we left, and it was still shut when Justus arrived.  I have seen Willow playing with the gate latch before and now know she has figured out how to flip the latch up so that she can open the gate.  I am sure Anya would have been Willow’s accomplice as she is always right beside Willow first thing in the morning.  Once the gate was open the girls would have had no hesitation in leaving their pastures to explore the farm as they do in the summer when we allow them out to graze.

I explained to Justus that Willow and Anya were the most likely culprits in opening the gate, and that I felt that the girls were just taking advantage of his being a new helper, much like children at school will take advantage of a substitute teacher.

The good thing about alpacas is that being such herd animals they are going to stick together and not wander too far.  Our girls know exactly where our haystack is kept and I can just see them kicking up their heels with glee as they ran over to the “forbidden fruit”.   If alpacas could giggle I would bet they were doing that too as they realized they had just outwitted the “new guy”.

I had a talk with the girls later that day when I returned home.  They just looked at me as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths and went back to the business of eating hay and chewing cud.

We now have a pin inserted in the gate latch so that Willow cannot perform her little trick again.  And Justus  – well I hope he will feel comfortable helping us out again, but the last time I spoke to him he mentioned something about moving to Colorado!

Rosemary

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