A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 28, 2008

A More Comfortable Queen

I am happy to report that Queen is doing much better.  She had a more comfortable day yesterday with no need for any more shots or treatment.  I will probably give her another dose of MSE drench today just to be on the safe side.   MSE promotes healthy rumen function in alpacas and due to its vitamin and enzyme content it is good for alpacas who are under stress.  I usually give my pregnant girls some MSE during their last couple of weeks of pregnancy and immediately after birth; it seems to help them bounce back from the birthing process quicker.

I will also treat Queen to another photonic red light treatment, I am sure she will not be fully appreciative of the special care, Queen is not a hands on alpaca, but I want to make sure that she receives the best care we can give her.

Queen spent much of yesterday eating hay and ate her pellets as she normally does.  She is still lying around quite a bit, but considering how big her unborn cria seems to be that is hardly surprising.

On checking my records I can see that our computer program has based her due date on 359 days, which was the length of her previous pregnancy.  A typical alpaca pregnancy is 345 days so she could have the cria in early May.  As large as Queen is though, I would not be surprised if she ends up having the cria early so we will need to be prepared for that.  Queen’s last cria Velvet was 14 lbs at birth and Queen looked enormous when she was carrying Velvet too, but she did not show any discomfort during that pregnancy.  The cria Queen is carrying is the same breeding as Velvet (Queen and our herdsire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel) and so far Zin’s crias have all been a nice size, ranging from 14 to 18 lbs.

Hopefully Queen will not have any more bad days between now and giving birth, and hopefully she will hang onto her cria until closer to her due date!

Rosemary

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.

Rosemary  

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! 

Rosemary

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