A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 18, 2009

Will She or Wont She?

That is the game we will be playing at the farm as spring cria season comes upon us.  With several girls due to have their crias over the next six weeks we will be watching for signs of impending labor.

The first girl to set us on our toes in anticipation is Rose Marie.  Rose Marie is due on May 30, but as I write this blog entry I am getting the feeling that we may well be seeing her cria before then.

Rose Marie was shorn this Saturday (May 16).  As she was so close to her due date we gave her some banamine to help prevent or stop any contractions and some Acepromazine to sedate her a little.  By the time we sheared Rose Marie she was definitely under the influence of the Acepromazine.   

With all of the pregnant girls we take extra steps to be careful when shearing them.  We lower them onto the mat as gently as possible and try and get them shorn as quickly as possible.  The pregnant girls may look a little less “polished” in appearance once they are shorn, but safety of the pregnancy is much more important than appearances.

Sunday turned into a great day for cria delivery, sunny with temperatures into the 70’s it was a beautiful day.

Shortly after feeding I noticed Rosie cush in front of one of the hay feeders, taking her time to lower herself to the ground.  Her actions were different from usual and enough to catch my attention.  I know from experience that with alpacas it is the subtle signs that give you a clue something may be happening.

Rosie didn’t get up to join the herd when we put out beet pulp shreds, which is not like her at all.  I kept a spoonful of the shreds for her and took them over to her once the other alpacas were all busy eating.  Rosie nibbled at them but not as heartily as she normally does.

The next odd sign with Rosie was her straining over the poop pile.  She did pass some poop but stayed at the poop pile a long time, even chewing her cud as she stood there.   Finally she took a couple of steps and then cushed close to the poop pile – hmm something was definitely going on.

Rosie stayed cushed for a while but then kicked her legs out to the side a little.  After a while she laid on her side, still chewing her cud, again an unusual behavior.  I stood close to Rosie and watched her for a while.  She was not groaning and did not seem to be distressed.  There was a little movement of the cria towards Rosie’s rear but no contractions that I could see.  Rosie didn’t look puffy in the rear end and so I started to wonder if she was just in the process of rearranging the cria.  I decided to give her a little longer to see how things progressed.

About 30 minutes later Rosie was happily eating at the hay rack and I was starting to think that perhaps she was not in labor at all, but at the next check (about another 30 minutes) while Rosie was still heartily eating there was another change.  Now Rosie was puffy under the tail and the other girls were occasionally sniffing her.

So who knows or as the title of this entry says “Will she or wont she?”  It is difficult to say, this is only Rosie’s second cria and with her first cria she showed no signs of impending labor and then delivered her cria at night.  Fortunately I do nightly checks on the pregnant girls and discovered Rosie in labor that time.

My suspicion as I write this blog entry (it is now just past noon on Sunday) is that Rosie may be in the early stages of labor and that we may have a cria this afternoon or tonight.  Then again perhaps what I witnessed was just a change that indicates the advancement of Rosie’s pregnancy.  Time will tell, and until the time the cria is born we will be playing the will she or won’t she game.


November 4, 2008

A Little Late But Still Very Handsome

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Reproduction, Alpacas, camelids, Cria Care, Crias, General — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 6:37 am

Kimmies Cria- the last of the fall crias to be born

Kimmies Cria- the last of the fall crias to be born

On Monday morning Kimmie decided to stop keeping us in suspense and finally delivered her cria!  It was a beautiful warm morning and Kimmie had not shown any signs of labor during morning feeding, but shortly after her usual session at the hay feeder she started labor.


Kimmie was huge prior to giving birth and looked as if her cria was lying transverse across her abdomen, but Kimmie’s labor was routine and quick and within 30 minutes of the first noticeable sign of labor a beautiful boy was born.


Despite Kimmie’s size before giving birth her cria weighed 12.1 lbs – a surprise to all who know Kimmie as we were convinced she had a giant cria inside her.  Kimmie’s cria might be small but he is vigourous and sturdy and was on his feet looking for milk within 30 minutes of being born.  He is a dark fawn (or possibly a light brown) with shiny crimpy fiber and lots of it.


This little boy is Kimmie’s first cria and she is being a very good dam.  She clucks at him a lot and stands absolutely still while he nurses.  Looking at the size of Kimmie’s udder this little guy will never be short of milk!


So the last of the fall crias have been delivered and we have been fortunate to have beautiful weather for the crias to be born in.  We have had a few nights where the temperature has dipped below freezing but usually by this time of the year we are having snow and cold days.  Lets hope that we can have a few more warm days to let Kimmie’s boy get a good start in life.




October 26, 2008

Another New Arrival With An Interesting Quirk


Yesterday was a beautiful warm sunny day, too nice for one of the three remaining pregnant girls not to give birth.  This time it was Melody’s turn.


Melody is a maiden alpaca, so this was her first time birthing.  She went into labor shortly after she had been fed, taking herself away from the herd, sitting rolled on one hip and flaring at the nostrils.   Melody made several visits to the poop pile, initially passing poop and then not passing anything.  Textbook signs of labor in an alpaca.


Melody’s labor progressed well and I could start to see a nose arriving.  It looked dark and I called Melody’s owners (Bob and Regina Dart) to give them an update.  I went into the house to get my usual collection of supplies and towels and when I came out I could see more of the crias nose was presented but the amniotic sac was still in tact.  As I looked at the cria I could see that it was actually had a light nose but it looked dark because the amniotic fluid was a deep yellow color.


Usually the amniotic fluid on an alpaca cria is a clear color, I had not seen this yellow color before.  I burst the sac to release some pressure, which would help Melody make some progress.


The delivery went well, and Melody delivered a beautiful white male cria, except he wasn’t quite white, he was bright yellow toward the rear!  Bright yellow is certainly not on the color chart of the Alpaca Registry, so what was the deal with this bright yellow coloring?


In addition to the bright yellow we could see the cria had what appeared to be poop on his hind legs.  By this time Bob Dart had arrived along with Mitch Murry from Sandy Acres Alpaca Farm, who was visiting Bob and Regina.


We decided a call to the vet was in order, our concern being that maybe Melody had torn some of her bowel during birth.  Being a Saturday the vet’s phone went to his voicemail so we waited for him to call back.


In the meantime Bob called Regina to tell her the latest news on the cria and Regina got on her computer and did some research to see if she could find any reference to bright yellow amniotic fluid and feces in the amniotic fluid.  Regina quickly found a reference to just what we were seeing, except it was in goats.


Apparently sometimes prior to or during labor and delivery goat kids can pass their Meconium while still in the amniotic sac.  This causes the yellow coloring and poop on the cria’s hind legs that we were seeing.  This does not usually cause any problems with the cria unless the birth is difficult and the cria aspirates the fluid into the lungs.  Melody’s cria had a good birth, certainly not traumatic so it seemed as if everything would be okay.


I later went online and found a reference to this situation in goats at http://goat-link.com If you scroll down to the heading “Meconium” you will be able to read a little about this condition and if you scroll a little further you will see a picture of a goat kid whose fleece looks like Melody’s cria’s fleece did due to meconium staining.

Feeling a little more reassured that all would be okay with Melody and her cria we went about the usual routine of drying of the cria, dipping his naval and ensuring he was able to get up and nurse from his dam.


Melody seemed fine for the rest of the day, eating hay and keeping an anxious “new mother” eye on her cria.   Her cria nursed and slept as newborn crias do.


Today is supposed to be another nice day and so it would not surprise me if we have another cria born, only this time it will most likely not be yellow!



September 29, 2008

When One Starts They All Start!

Keeva and her cria

Keeva and her cria





Cinnamon having her cria the day before National Alpaca Farm Days seemed to start the other pregnant dams thinking about birthing.


Saturday morning as I was telling Bethany, our teenage helper, our plans for the day, I looked across the pasture and could see something was different about Keeva.  Lying in the shade of our large blue shelter, with Carina (also due soon) next to her,  Keeva’s tail was making some funny movements – she was in labor.


Our cria kit was still in the front porch from Friday when Cinnamon delivered, so it was nice and handy, but my collection of towels and blankets that I use at alpaca births was still in the washing machine.  We made a quick raid on the towel cabinet before heading out to the pasture.  (Note – if you are planning on delivering crias at your alpaca farm a large collection of old blankets and towels is a good idea!)


By the time we got to Keeva she had the crias head presented, and shortly afterward two feet appeared.  The delivery went well and with a couple more contractions Keeva presented us with a beige, female cria.  This was such a difference from Keeva’s previous birthing when she had a terrible dystocia (badly presented cria) and had to have veterinary assistance, which ended up with us losing the cria.  This time all went smoothly for Keeva and Keeva was anxious to meet her new baby, sniffing and clucking at the birthing fluids on the ground before she fully delivered her cria.


Keeva’s little girl is about three weeks premature.  Keeva had been showing signs that she was not going to carry her cria to term (See blog entry Doing The Cria Dance, September 10, 2008) so we were not totally surprised at her early labor.  Fortunately the cria’s lungs are well developed and with the exception of her being quite sleepy and wobblier than a full term cria she is doing well.  Keeva’s cria is just a little thing weighing in at 13.3 lbs.  We did end up having to milk Keeva a couple of times and feeding the colostrum to her cria to get the cria started and give her a little strength, but by the early afternoon Keeva’s cria was able to get up on her own and nurse from Keeva without a problem.


Keeva's Cria Soaks Up Some Sun

Keeva's Cria Soaks Up Some Sun


Interestingly Keeva’s cria and Cinnamon’s cria are almost identical in looks.  If you part their fleece you can see that they have different fleece styles, but just looking at them in the pasture it is hard to tell them apart.  They do both have the same sire, Tobiano.  We were very careful to make sure that Cinnamon and Keeva recognized which cria was which once we put Keeva and her cria into the pasture for the rest of the day.


So our National Alpaca Farm Day visitors got to see a brand new cria and of course Cinnamons cria who had been born the day before.  They also got to see me looking a filthy mess from taking care of Keeva and her cria but they all understood. 


During the course of the day Carina also started to look uncomfortable, but she did not go into labor.  Probably just that uncomfortable day that alpaca dams have about two weeks before giving birth, which will put Carina close to her due date.  Dutchess is the next girl due to give birth, only time will tell if Cinnamon and Keeva have made her thoughts turn to delivering soon.



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! 


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