A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 17, 2009

Hang on Queen!

 

Our alpaca Queen is one of the grand dams of the pasture.  Now eleven years old, she is able to rule over the younger alpacas by just looking at them.  She can throw a look that says “you wouldn’t dare” and the younger alpacas agree, they would not dare to cross our Queen.

 

Queen is an alpaca who breeds easily, births easily and has beautiful, robust, vigourous cria.  Her last cria Atlas recently took 1st in his class at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular and is a striking herdsire in the making.  The only time Queen has lost a pregnancy was after she moved here from her previous owners farm.  She was seven years old at the time and had never been off her home farm, the stress of the move was just too much for her I guess and while she never outwardly showed any signs of stress she did absorb her pregnancy.  Once rebred though she carried her next pregnancy to term and has never looked back since.

 

When Queen lost her pregnancy it drove home to me just how bonded these alpacas become with their herd mates.  I had already decided that Queen would live out her days here and purchased her knowing that she would become one of our foundation herd, but the reaction from her being moved here helped me decide that once our alpaca girls reach a certain age we need to plan on them staying with us for the rest of their lives.  To move them to a different herd just becomes too hard on them.

 

This past weekend I noticed Queen was a little uncomfortable, she laid around more than usual, rolling on one hip and pushing her legs out to the side.  She did eat but not as heartily as usual and it was obvious that she was not feeling 100%.  I could see her cria moving every now and then, which was a good sign, and when I offered her some soaked beet pulp shreds she readily ate them from the spoon, something she would not normally do, as she prefers to keep her distance from humans.  I felt the beet pulp shreds being soft, moist and fibrous might help her digestive tract stay active and as an added precaution I gave her some MSE drench that contains probiotics and digestive enzymes.  By the afternoon Queen was acting normal, eating hay and cushing in a more relaxed way.

 

Having owned Queen for a few years now I have my herd records to refer back to and I know that she has had this type of uncomfortable stage in each of the pregnancies she has had here.  Queen is a compact alpaca and by now her unborn cria will be going through some major growth spurts.  It almost seems as if in the last week her pregnancy “bump” has doubled in size.  I am sure at times her cria is pressing on her digestive tract and causing some of the discomfort she is feeling.

 

Last year Queen decided to have her cria early, when he was born Atlas was healthy and strong and looked like a full term cria, but he was born 2 –3 weeks prior to his due date.  In fact Queen caught us unawares with Atlas’s birth as we had gone out to another farm for the day to shear alpacas, but fortunately had our alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart check on the herd only to find that Queen had delivered her cria.

 

I am hoping that Queen holds on at least another month before delivering her cria, two months would be even better.   The cria is only in its ninth month of gestation and its survival chances should it be born now would be slim to none.  So Hang on Queen, we know you are uncomfortable but we really need you to carry that cria for a while longer!   (And you can guarantee that from now on Queen will be under very watchful eye!)

 

Rosemary

October 8, 2007

Pregnant and Uncomfortable

Our alpaca Chai is showing signs that her pregnancy is taking its toll on her.  Throughout the day she cushes a lot and she is delighted that the fall out from the big bale in the large shelter provides her with a cushioned area where she can cush and eat at the same time.

It’s not unusual for the alpaca girls to slow down and take things a little easier in the final stages of pregnancy.  I must admit though that I am a little surprise that Chai is sitting around as much as she is as she is not as big as she usually is by this stage of pregnancy.  It has been warmer than usual the past couple of days and that may be taking it’s toll on Chai, the next couple of days though are supposed to be cooler so we will get an opportunity to watch Chai in cooler conditions and better gauge her behavior.

Chai does usually act a little differently toward the end of her pregnancy, whereas she is usually one of the first to get into the pens to eat when she is heavily pregnant Chai seems to think that going into a pen is not a wise idea.  The past two days Chai has refused to go into her normal pen for morning and evening feed, it’s not that she doesn’t want to eat, once we catch her she eats her food with gusto, but she definitely gets wary of the pens.  Perhaps she feels that if she is in a pen and goes into labor she will not be able to move about as she would like to, or that us two-leggeds (humans) will bother her too much while she is giving birth.

Chai is only 14 days away from her due date if we base that date on 345 days post breeding, and as Chai usually has her crias around the 345th day of pregnancy she will probably go a little longer before having her cria.

The other night when I checked on the girls Chai’s cria was being very lively, kicking poor Chai hard – no wonder she is feeling a little sore.

We will be keeping a really close eye on Chai until she has her cria, checking her udder daily to see if it is getting enlarged, checking under her tail to see if she has any puffiness in that area and watching for signs that she is in labor (sitting on one hip, frequent unproductive trips to the poop pile, rolling on each side).   When the time comes for Chai to have her cria I know that she is a girl who prefers me to keep a little distance, so I will respect that fact and watch her from a distance that is far enough away for her to feel relaxed yet close enough to step in if she should need assistance.  In the meantime though I will watch and wait and look forward to the day when Chai’s cria makes its entry into the world.

Rosemary

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