A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 21, 2008

And Another Little One Joins Us


With four girls left to give birth we have been keeping a close eye on the expectant dams.  Sunday night Melody seemed a little uncomfortable in the evening, sitting rolled onto one hip, then sitting sternal and then rolling back onto her hip again.  So it was Melody we thought would be the next to deliver.


Monday was a sunny day even though it was a little blustery, all of the girls ate well in the morning and Melody seemed more comfortable with no more signs of possible labor.  The new crias were having fun chasing each other, interspersed with periods of napping in the sun.


In the early afternoon the weather suddenly changed, the sky grew cloudy, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped as a cold front came into the area.  It seemed that the sudden change in pressure had another effect too as I became aware that Essie was walking a little strangely.  She had that same stiff, waddling gate that Clarissa had on Saturday – she was in labor.


Essie is a maiden alpaca, this being her first experience of giving birth and the look of her face seemed to say “What the heck is going on back there?”  The poor thing looked quite perplexed!  Essie was soon to discover what was going on as she went on to deliver a beautiful, golden brown female cria.   Having delivered the crias head and feet, Essie took a break to sit down and chew her cud, before delivering the rest of the cria.


Both Essie and the cria belong to our alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart.  Bob was out of town on Monday but Regina was able to come over to see her new arrival being delivered.


The cria was a little tired after being born and took a nap while Essie delivered the afterbirth (this time with a look of “Now What is Happening” on her face).  Once Essie was comfortable the cria woke up as if on cue, struggled to take her first steps and was soon nursing from her dam.


So the new cria group is now up to six, with three more left to arrive.  Maybe today will be Melody’s day, we’ll just have to wait and see.





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.



September 27, 2008

Just in Time For National Alpaca Farm Days

Cinnamon's New Cria

Cinnamon's new cria


Our first cria of the fall arrived yesterday at 12:35 pm.  Cinnamon delivered a healthy, vigorous beige boy who weighed in at 15.3 lbs.  Cinnamon’s cria is out of our dark male herdsire Tobiano, whose crias have all been in the 13 –15 lbs range so far.  They tend to be study little crias with broad chests and a very square frame and this little boy is no exception.


We had thought that the breeding of Cinnamon and Tobiano would produce color, but alpacas love to outwit us humans and Cinnamon and Tobiano combined gave us a beige cria.  Alpaca color genetics are so much fun!


Cinnamon’s little boy is a real character.  He tried to kick me when I dipped his naval, kicked out at Cinnamon when she sniffed him, was scratching his head with his hind leg before he could cush and boy can he talk!  He really is a chatty little fellow.  He was up on his feet looking good about an hour after being born, not wobbly at all, but steady and skipping around.  He also was hungry and took no time in finding Cinnamon’s udder, which had plenty of creamy colostrum.  I think the recent addition of a little alfalfa to our girls diet gave Cinnamon some help in the milk department, although Cinnamon’s dam Chai is an excellent milk producer and milk production does seem to be a heritable factor in alpacas as it is in other livestock species.


Cinnamon had a textbook delivery with no assistance required, she even took a break to chew her cud after the cria’s head and legs were delivered!  As I dried off Cinnamon’s cria, she stretched her neck out to me, looked me right in the eye and then planted a gentle alpaca kiss right on my forehead, what a sweet girl.


Although she is a maiden Cinnamon is proving to be an excellent mother, she is very attentive to her cria, humming to him and sniffing him and she stands stock still while he nurses from her.


So our visitors to our farm will have a special treat today as they see our new young man prancing round, checking out how fast his legs will carry him!  For this boy we are going to need a name that is full of spirit, vigor and character just like him!



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