A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 16, 2008

I’m Off The Farm For One Day ……..

Victorian Glow - Pasture Queen

Victorian Glow - Pasture Queen

And a new cria arrives!  Victorian Glow (who belongs to Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas) decided to keep Ric entertained by delivering a beautiful dark brown female cria at 2:30 pm.  The delivery went well and the cria seems to be strong and healthy. 


Glow is an older female and a solid producer of beautiful crias.  She has had several male crias in the past so for Bob and Regina to get a female cria from her is exciting.  To me Glow is a very true to type alpaca with a compact body, great bone density and of course super soft fleece.   Glow is also a “pasture queen” ruling the pasture in her own quiet but very definite way.  The other girls know not to mess with Glow.


By the time I came home from the Crafters Mall it was too dark to take a picture of the new arrival.  Bob and Regina had come over to visit their new girl and had fitted her out in a cria coat to keep her warm during the chilly night.  Let’s hope the other crias leave her out of their “Remove The Cria Coat” game which they still are having fun playing.  The temperature was a little cool last night (46 degrees) but today it is supposed to get up in the 70’s which will be nice weather for the new cria to check out her new world.  It is also good weather for cria deliveries so who knows we may get another new arrival.


Meanwhile while Ric was delivering crias my day at the Crafters Mall was a quiet one, which allowed me to learn the ropes and get acquainted with the various booths in the store.  I was also pleased to discover that we have already sold some product from our booth, which is promising.   I am assured by the other vendors at the store that as the holidays get closer the pace will pick up at the Crafters Mall, so I had better brace myself for busier times on my next volunteer day in November.  By then hopefully all the new crias will have arrived – only five more to go!



October 13, 2008

What No Cria?

Filed under: alpaca, alpaca behavior, alpaca behaviour, Alpacas, camelids, Cria Care, Crias, General — Tags: , — alpacalady @ 6:11 am

A Cria Coat Abandoned By It's Wearer

A Cria Coat Abandoned By It's Wearer

The rain continues to fall and while the weather forecast was for “showers” we are receiving heavy downpours day and night (and even a tornado watch on Saturday evening).  Our alpacas are somewhat soggy but the winter wheat is drinking up the moisture, and the alpacas will get to enjoy that in time.


Saturday’s game of cria “Jack In the Box” calmed down a little when after several hours of hard rain the crias started to realize that perhaps the dry of the shelter was quite inviting.  But of course crias are young and love to play and soon a new game was invented by the crias to keep themselves amused during the rain.  The new game was “remove the cria coat”.


Carina’s cria seemed to keep herself out of the new caper for the most part (although even she had her cria coat removed at one point on Sunday morning), but Sleeper and Dutchesses cria had endless fun removing each other’s cria coats throughout the day.  My pasture visits to check on the crias usually resulted in my finding at least one cria coat abandoned in the middle of the pasture.  On one visit I found two cria coats lying on the ground side by side, I could just imagine the two culprits working with their lips at the Velcro straps on the coats and then tugging the coats to the ground.  Yet surprisingly, despite the numerous times the coats were removed I never once caught them in the act of pulling the coats off.


I did find Sleeper at one point playing with her coat as it lay on the ground, creeping up to it, sticking her nose on it and then dashing off at top speed as if she had just carried out a brave dare.


I guess when it’s a rainy day even crias get bored and need to find something to amuse themselves.  With more rain forecast for the next two days I wonder what game they will come up with next?!




December 11, 2007

A Cold Rain and A Wet Cria

Yesterday was wet all day, much needed rain fell steadily and we were fortunate that the predicted cold air did not make it down to us, thus avoiding an ice storm.

The alpacas are not usually too bothered by the rain.  If it is a heavy pounding rain they will seek shelter but if the rain is just a gentle soft rain they will often stay out in it.  Some of the time they will cush out in the pasture, and once they get comfortable they don’t want to move, unless of course they see hay or feed being brought in and then they are up straight away.

As I started chores yesterday morning I noticed there was some liquid diarrhea at one of the poop piles.  I was pretty certain that it was one of the crias and sure enough as I fed the girls I realized that little Kanika was under the weather.  She wasn’t eating as she normally does and seemed lethargic and droopy.  As I watched her I realized that she was also shivering which was not a good sign.

Kanika was pretty wet having apparently been out in the rain for part of the night.   I took her temperature, which was 100.9, not too unusual for a cria as their temperatures can run from 101 – 102.5.  I knew I needed to get her where she could be warm and dry and that I also needed to figure out a plan to treat her diarrhea.

Often with crias if the diarrhea is not too severe and they are not running a temperature I will just give them probiotics for the first 24 hours to see if that alone will cause an improvement.  As crias like to explore and often nibble everything they come across they are at risk of picking up unfriendly bacteria, often a good probiotic will be sufficient treatment.  With Kanika though her diarrhea was very watery and her shivering and lethargy were concerning to me.

First I gave her 5cc of MSE drench as a probiotic treatment and then I gave her an antibiotic called Tucoprim (SMZ – TMZ), I also gave her a photonic red light treatment.  Kanika was not too thrilled about my giving her the probiotic or the antibiotic, even though I did mix the antibiotic with some applesauce.

Having given Kanika her medicine now the challenge was to get her dry and warm.  An alpaca fleece that is soaked to the skin takes a long while to dry and sometimes in an effort to dry the fleece you can end up pushing the moisture further into the fleece.  A cria coat can help to keep a cria dry and warm, but if the cria is already wet and you put a cria coat on it you can actually cause the cria to become chilled.

Fortunately Kanika’s fleece appeared to be wet only on the outside ½” or so.  I moved Kanika and Chai into the small shelter in the girls pasture so that Kanika did not get any wetter.  I then got a one of those super chamois cloths (you know the ones you see on TV infomercials that are advertised as being able to soak up huge amounts of water) and draped it over Kanika’s back and patted it lightly to soak up some of the moisture from her fleece.  I then strapped a cria coat over the top of the chamois cloth and put a nice bucket of hay in the shelter to keep Chai occupied and in the shelter so that Kanika would stay with her.

I went out about an hour later and found Kanika and Chai both cushed in the shelter.  I took off the cria coat and the chamois.  Amazingly the chamois cloth had soaked up most of the moisture from Kanika’s fleece.  I put a clean dry cria coat back on Kanika and left her in the shelter with Chai.

I kept a close eye on Kanika for the rest of the day, she was still a little shivery to begin with but by the evening she was no longer shivering and her diarrhea was improved.  She was even ready to join in with the nightly cria dash around the pasture

Our forecast for the next few days is for continued precipitation (either rain or snow) and cold, so Kanika will be wearing her cria coat again at least for the next few days.  She will also be on a course of antibiotics for five days to make sure that whatever it was she had is completely gone from her system – and I had better check my collection of super chamois cloths to make sure I have enough to dry off any other wet crias who need it!


November 14, 2007

Zeus Loses His Coat!

Zeus Standing Proud Well it had to happen eventually, little Zeus has finally outgrown his cria coat.  We tried to put it on him Monday evening but within minutes he was taking part in the nightly cria races with the coat hanging around his neck.  It didn’t seem to bother him too much, but it really doesn’t do him any good hanging from his neck so I took it off him and wondered if he would have a good weight gain the next day.  I am glad to report that he did gaining 0.8 lb, one of his biggest gains ever.  I hesitate to assume that he will now have a steady and strong weight gain, it seems that every time I do that he defies me and doesn’t gain the next day.

We did do something a little different the day before Zeus’s weight gain and that was to feed some calf manna to Zoie (Zeus’s dam), Carina and Chai.  Zeus was in the pen too and so could have nibbled on some of the calf manna.

The calf manna was really intended for Chai who is having a hard time holding her weight.  We will be taking Chai in to the vets for her follow up blood work and hopefully the latest blood panel will give us an indication as to what is going on with Chai.  We will also run a fecal test on her to check for parasites, previous fecal tests have shown Chai free of parasites, but just in case we are missing some parasites in a dormant stage it will be worth running another test.

The calf manna is an interesting product that has been used in livestock for many years.  A milk based product it is easily digestible, it runs about 25% protein and contains the herbs fenugreek and anise which are two of the ingredients in the lactation stimulant herbal mix we use.   I figured that with Zoie needing to produce more milk for Zeus, Chai needing more calories in her diet and Carina feeding both Carissima and Zeus the three of them could benefit from a little calf manna in their diet.   We have decided to feed the three girls a cup each of the calf manna every morning and night in addition to their regular feed and we will be interested to see what effect it has on them.  The calf manna does have a very distinctive odor to it but our girls and Zeus didn’t seem to care too much about the odor and were happy to eat the calf manna quickly.

So we will have to see if calf manna is indeed manna from heaven for Chai and Zeus!


November 7, 2007

Good News All Round

Enchantment’s Prince Regent  I think everyone loves to hear good news, there is so much bad news in the media that many people I talk to are thirsting to hear good news.  It’s also funny how sometimes we get a run of bad news and then thankfully something changes and the good news starts flowing in.

Our first piece of good news today is that Snuggler the cat is doing much better.  After a day of doing pretty much nothing but sleeping he is now up and around, albeit hobbling on his two good legs.  His right rear leg will at least take some of his weight although there is still some looseness there.  His left front leg still has some swelling and is dragging, but I feel it is improved and dragging less than it was when we took him in to the vet on Monday.  Certainly he was up to following me around yesterday afternoon and even jumped up onto the chairs, insisting on sitting next to me while I worked on the computer.  It is great to see him showing such interest in life, even though he made typing on the computer difficult as he tried to bat the keys with his good paw.

Little Zeus has had a good couple of days too, with some more consistent weight gain.  He is eating a little grain and more hay than he was so maybe his system is starting to get used to those new additions to his diet.  He now weighs 26.7 lbs and has not too much further to go to reach the 30 lb mark.  We are still putting a cria coat on him at night as our nights are starting to get close to freezing and I still want to save every calorie I can with that young man.

Kanika is rapidly gaining ground on Zeus and now weights 22.7 lbs.  She is a real live wire, stirring up the other crias to play, coming over to check out what we are doing when we enter the pasture and having regular sessions when she just bucks and runs for joy.

Rebecca has had no further signs of discomfort and is back to being one of the first to meet me at the gate in the morning, which is good to see despite her grumbles and groans when I wont let her steal pellets from the feed bowls as I walk into the pasture.

Over the weekend the LA Deep South Show was held in Shreveport, Louisiana and we have heard that the offspring of our herdsire Enchantment’s Prince Regent did well in the halter show.  We have had reports (unconfirmed as yet) that Regent’s daughter CHR Carlee’s Peak (owned by Copper Hill Ranch) took fourth in her class, Regent’s son Prince Regent’s Treasure of Airlie (owned by Timber Lodge Alpacas) took first in his class and another of Regent’s sons Traversura’s Sulaimon (owned by Tierra Prometida Alpacas) took not only first in his class but went on to take the white color champion as well.   Well done to all our Regent grandkids and well done for Regent for being such a superstar herdsire male!


October 23, 2007

Back Home and Look Whose Here!

Chai’s New Cria     Chai’s New Cria Face On 

I made it back safely from Louisiana, my flights were good and I had no trouble making it to the airport on time.  On the drive back to the airport I was again amazed by the Causeway that runs 26 miles or so over water, it was interesting to see the skyline of New Orleans emerge as I drew closer and I couldn’t help but think what it must have been like on the Causeway during Hurricane Katrina. 

I arrived home at 1 a.m. on Monday morning, Ric picked me up at the airport and was ready to tell me how awful the weather had been (high winds, dust and cold) and that Chai still had not had her cria.  Later that morning though it was a different story as we realized during morning chores that Chai was in labor and a cria was on its way.

Chai had a very typical alpaca labor, the first sign I noticed that she was sitting in a different place than she usually sits first thing in the morning and that she had her weight on one hip.  A little later Chai took herself away from the herd and lay down for a while with her neck stretched out and then rolled.  Shortly after that she started visiting the poop piles and straining but no poop was forthcoming.  When Chai moved away from the poop piles and lay down again I approached her gently and lifted her tail.  I could see that her vulva was puffy and that her udder was full.

By the time we fed the girls the cria’s head had not yet presented, but again Chai’s behavior was unusual as she lay down immediately after she ate.  Usually Chai mooches about the pen once she has eaten and waits for her bucket of hay to be delivered, but today instead she lay down and the next thing we knew there were two feet and a head.

The delivery continued on and within a few short minutes we had a cria on the ground, a gorgeous chocolate brown girl.

It was not exactly the best weather for a cria to be born into.  The morning was cool (about 40 degrees) and the winds were blowing at 20-25 mph with 30 mph gusts – brrr!  I had gone into the house to get towels and my cria kit once the cria’s feet and head had presented, while Ric stayed with Chai.  I grabbed more towels than usual and the hair dryer as I knew with the cold wind blowing we were going to need to work fast to prevent the cria from getting chilled.

While I worked on drying the cria, Ric moved some of our portable pens into the small shelter and set up an area that would be more sheltered and warm for Chai and her cria.  He also set up a heat lamp and an extension cord for my hair dryer. 

It took a little while to get the cria dry and warmed up but with some vigorous towel drying and then the use of the hair dryer we were able to get there.  Once the cria was warm she started trying to stand and within a short while was nursing from Chai.

As the day was so cold once we had the cria completely dry we put a cria coat on her.  It’s important to make sure a cria is completely dry before putting on the cria coat or else you stand the risk of trapping in moisture that can make the cria colder rather than warmer.

We were able to let Chai and her cria out for the afternoon to allow the cria to run around and stretch her legs.  We feel it’s important for crias to be out running around as it helps keep their body temperature up and stimulates their newly born bodies to function properly.

So our last cria of the fall is born and Chai did a great job giving birth and producing yet another pretty daughter, that’s three for Chai so far.  Later today our vet will be out to draw blood from the cria for her IgG test and BVD PCR test, we have also asked him to run some routine bloodwork on Chai who had shown some joint soreness in the latter part of her pregnancy.  Chai has seemed quite a lot better since delivering her cria, but we don’t want to make any assumptions about her health and want to make sure everything is working as it should be. We’ve had a great start to the week, now if we can just get the temperature to go back up and a soft rain to fall we will be really happy.  We can’t be too greedy though as life has just presented us with a beautiful chocolate brown cria, so for now we will take that little gift and enjoy her as she develops and grows.


October 16, 2007

Cooler Nights Bring Crazy Crias!

The last couple of nights have been decidedly cooler as our fall weather begins to develop.  It’s nice to feel the cool air of fall around us and watch the signs of fall – the light is softer, the sunsets a deeper orange, the leaves on the trees are turning color and as they fall from the trees are often pursued by the alpacas and llamas who love to eat leaves.

With cooler weather comes friskier animals!  Our horses are livelier, the male alpacas are enjoying more chasing and wrestling matches and then there are the crazy crias.

Healthy crias will typically get very active at dusk, they start to run around the pasture and play games with each other or even with the adult alpacas if they are willing to join in.  The evening playtime is about more than fun though; it is also about the crias raising their body temperatures to help keep them warm longer through the night.

With little Zeus working so hard to gain weight each day we have been putting a cria coat on him at night to try and prevent him from burning calories by trying to stay warm.  Even on the warmer nights he has worn his coat, and while he doesn’t enjoy me putting it on, once it is on he seems to really like it.  As he as got bigger the coat has started to get snug, and if he was showing better weight gain I would have started to leave the coat off at night, however his weight gain is still erratic so he will be wearing a coat for a while yet.

Fortunately last year I made some new cria coats, and also made little extension pieces for the belly strap.  The extensions attach to the belly strap with Velcro and mean that I can use the coats for a little longer as the crias grow.  So Zeus still gets to wear his coat and keep his calories.

Yesterday evening as I went out to check on Chai and put the coat on Zeus I could tell I was going to have my work cut out for me.  Chai was doing fine, sitting sternal and contentedly chewing her cud, but Zeus, Carissima and Blast were going crazy in the cool evening air.  The three of them were running full pelt around the pasture, screeching to a halt here and there and then tearing off again in a blur of bucking, kicking and legs running at full speed.  It was a lot of fun watching them, but a bit more of a challenge to catch Zeus and hold him still long enough to get his coat on!  I got lucky and managed to catch him as he ran towards a corner of the pasture, he grumbled at me for stopping his fun, but I was able to get the coat on quickly and then whoosh he was on his way, galloping at full speed with his head and neck out until he caught up with Carissima and Blast.    Zeus may be slow to gain weight but he’s certainly not slow at running!


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