A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 14, 2008

Indifference – The Alpaca Way

Alpaca girls are quite matter of fact about their dates.  I have had one or two who have shown an attachment to a particular male, but for the most part they resign themselves to the breeding process, and during the breeding spend their time looking around at any activity nearby.  I have had one girl fall asleep during a breeding, much to the dismay of her mate who then started to sniff her and produce an orgle with almost a question mark in it’s tone.  (Orgling is the noise made by the male alpaca during breeding)


On Saturday we behavior tested Bjorn and Queen, both of whom have been bred and who are experienced dams.  Bjorn refused to go anywhere near the pen where the male alpaca was, planting her feet in the ground and putting her ears back.  Normally Bjorn leads easily so we took her actions to be a firm rejection of the male.  Queen ventured into the pen with the male but soon ran away and then as a parting gesture spit at him.  So it is looking promising that Bjorn and Queen may be pregnant.


Next we decided to breed Willow to Treasure.  We had tried this breeding combination last year but Treasure was not quite ready to breed at that time and Willow never did conceive from that breeding.  We later bred Willow to Tobiano, which resulted in her current cria Desert Sand Storm or Stormy as we call him.


Willow is quite the character; she was born hungry and always tells us she is hungry when it is feeding time.  She tends to be on the chubby side and so we don’t always listen to her grumblings as to how she hasn’t been fed enough.   Willow is also our alpaca escapologist.  She will try and get through the smallest of gaps, wiggle her way past you when you are opening the gates and generally seize any opportunity she gets to make an escape from the pasture.


In preparation for breeding we placed Willow in a secure pen and then brought Treasure over to her.  This year Treasure is definitely ready to breed (and now has a confirmed pregnancy to his credit) and he had no hesitation in starting to orgle at Willow as soon as he entered the pen.  Willow though had other things on her mind – food.  She had found something growing in the pen and was busily nibbling it.  She didn’t even glance over her shoulder at Treasure but just carried on eating.  Treasure was not to be deterred and mounted Willow, who continued to eat and still didn’t even acknowledge Treasure’s presence. 


We decided that Willow should probably be paying better attention and so lifted her head to stop her from grazing, once we did that she cushed and all seemed to be going well with the breeding.  That is until we went to leave the pen, at which time Willow seemed to think this was her opportunity to get out of the pen and back to her favorite past time of eating.   In the end we had to bring a flake of hay into the pen for Willow to nibble on while she was bred.  Then and only then would she stay cushed.   Poor Treasure it’s a good job male alpacas are not insulted by such behavior!




March 15, 2008

Watching and Waiting For Willow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:01 am

Willow our escapologist alpaca is looking most definitely pregnant, Ric described her the other day as a little butterball as she almost looks as wide as she is long!  Willow is not a very big alpaca; she takes after her dam Clarissa who is on the small side.  Being small and having a short body does mean that for both Clarissa and Willow their pregnancies show earlier than some of the longer bodied alpacas.

As I have watched Willow’s “bump” grow, I have started to wonder if she is expecting a large cria and if so if she is going to be able to deliver without any problems.  She is maiden and so has not delivered a cria before so I hope that the delivery of her cria will be routine without any problems.  But something has been nagging me about her looking so big, we have other females due before her and even allowing for their body style they still do not look as advanced in their pregnancy as Willow does – and then it struck me, maybe I anticipating the wrong due date.

This really came to mind when I was pulling up Willow’s records the other day.  I had previously run a due date calendar from my Herdlogic software where we keep all the alpaca records and it showed Willow due in June 2008.  While I was looking up some show record information on Willow I checked her breeding records too and those records refreshed my memory as to what happened with Willow during last year’s breeding season.

Willow actually bred three times, the first breeding was one of the earliest ones we did for our herd and was to our Junior Herdsire Trevasura’s Altiplano Treasure.  Willow had cushed readily when introduced to Treasure and the breeding seemed to go well, but during one of the following behavior tests several weeks later she cushed again.  We bred Willow at that time to our herdsire Tobiano and again all seemed to be going well until during one behavior test she cushed again.  We rebred Willow to Tobiano and this time each subsequent behavior test resulted in Willow rejecting the male.  Based on those observations we based Willow’s due date on that last breeding.  Now though I am beginning to wonder.

Simply put, during a pregnancy it is the hormones in the female alpacas system that make her unreceptive to the male alpaca.   What happens though if those hormones are not produced to the necessary levels to instigate that behavior, or if perhaps the female alpacas brain does not recognize those hormones as it should.  Well then you could get a maiden female alpaca that would breed again despite being pregnant.

At this stage it is hard to tell if that is the case with Willow or if she is just carrying a large “bump” during her pregnancy.  We have heard of other alpaca breeders who have had maiden females who breed after being pregnant and then get a cria too early for the latter breeding date.  Once the cria is born the breeders realize that the cria is a result of the first breeding. 

For now all I know is that Willow is definitely pregnant, when she has her cria will perhaps give me a better idea of when she conceived the pregnancy.  Having used two different sires on Willow will also help us determine when the cria was conceived as when we submit the crias blood sample to the Alpaca Registry, Inc. for DNA testing they will let us know which is the correct sire.

I will keep a close eye on Willow in the coming weeks, if the first breeding date was the successful one she could have her cria as early as April, so we need to be prepared in case that is when the cria is born.  All we can do in the meantime is watch and wait, in time nature (and Willow) will give us the answer.


November 11, 2007

Gremlins and Gratitude

Yesterday’s herd health day went really well and while we didn’t finish the whole herd we are more than three quarters of the way through with our health checks.   We were joined for part of the day by Jan and Corky Green of Muleshoe, Texas who are new alpaca owners.  Jan and Corky will have their alpacas delivered to their farm at the beginning of December and are looking forward to getting to know their herd.  Jan and Corky were a great help yesterday and had lots of good questions to ask during the course of the day.

In addition to our herd health day we also had five girls scheduled for behavior testing.  All five girls were about 14 days post breeding, so while they may have rejected the male last weekend when tested, indicating that they had cycled, yesterday’s behavior test was more of an indication as to whether we had a pregnancy started in any of the girls.  There must have been gremlins in the air as three of the girls cushed when introduced to the male and had to be bred again.  The other two though rejected the male and will be behavior tested again next weekend.  Fingers crossed we have some more little crias in the making.

It seems those pesky gremlins were also at work on our vehicles last week, as one by one they all broke down.  I think the three of them got together and conspired to see how much inconvenience they could cause us!  Our big truck will be fixed by Monday afternoon and thanks to a good relationship with the truck dealership we were able to borrow a vehicle for the weekend, the other two vehicles are going to take a little longer to fix though.  Oh well we can at least be grateful that one of the vehicles will be back with us pretty soon.

Today we will finish off the rest of our herd health checks in the morning leaving the afternoon free to enter everything into the computer bringing our records up to date.

For those reading this wondering about the progress of our barn cat Snuggler you will be pleased to hear he is making good progress.  He is putting a lot more weight on his front leg although he still is not using it normally; he shows improvement every day and is now happy to come into the house for the night.  With winter coming I am sure the warm house will start to become even more attractive to him.  Tomorrow we take him back for a recheck at the vet and I am sure the vet will be pleased at Snuggler’s progress.   We are so grateful that he is making such a good recovery and that he is settling in to his new life indoors at least in the evenings. 

So all in all a good end to the week, despite failing trucks and injured barn cats, we will have to wait and see what next week brings, but lets hope it involves less gremlins and more good things.


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