A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 2, 2008

Sneaky, Sneaky!


Dutchess and Cria - not the best picture, better picture to follow!

Dutchess and Cria - not the best picture, better picture to follow!

Once in a while you come across an alpaca dam that doesn’t give you much of an indication that she is about to deliver her cria –such was the case with Dutchess who sneakily delivered a beautiful 17.7 lb male cria yesterday afternoon.


Around 10 a.m. Dutchess’s owner Regina Dart had called me on my cell phone; I think she must have had a premonition as she asked me if I was out tending to one of her dams having a cria.  I was actually bottle feeding Mags and Song when Regina called and so told Regina that all of her dams were looking good although I had noticed that Dutchesses pregnancy bump had dropped since yesterday.  Regina and I had our usual conversation about what was going on in our worlds and then I went about finishing chores.  I did check under Dutchess’s tail and look at her udder as I do for all of the late term dams, everything looked fine with no swelling or significant changes.


Interestingly Dutchess had shown some different behavior a couple of days ago.  We had a breeding going on in one of the pens close to the pasture where Dutchess is.  She and Essie (another of Regina’s pregnant girls) had come over and shown some interest in the breeding, an indication that their hormone levels might be changing as they reached the end of pregnancy. Dutchess though took things a step further, she eyed up Keeva who was cushed close by, walked up to her, started orgling and then tried to mount Keeva.  Keeva wasn’t having any of that, spit at Dutchess and got up.  Dutchess was persistent in her efforts to mount Keeva and so I entered the pasture and herded Dutchess away from Keeva.


Yesterday afternoon I was preparing to load product into the truck to go to our booth at The Crafter’s Mall.  As I walked out of the house I could hear a cria humming.  The sound was coming from the pregnant girls pen, but I could see Cinnamon’s cria walking around and he is a little chatterbox, so much so we have nick named him Beeper (we promise to give him a more impressive registered name but for now Beeper suits him!).


I went around to the studio to get the boxes of product ready to load, and then came back to the house a short while later to prepare Mags and Songs afternoon bottles.   As I fed Mags and Song I could still hear humming, but as I looked across the pasture I could see that Beeper was fast asleep in the sun.  I checked for Keeva’s cria (who we have nicknamed Sleeper because when she sleeps, she sleeps so soundly you can pick her up and move her into the shade when she is asleep and she will barely stir), Sleeper too was sound asleep.  I then checked for Anya’s cria Annochia as she still hums loudly when she wants Anya to let her nurse.  I could see Annochia and she was nudging at Anya, but she was in the opposite direction to the humming I could hear.  There was only one option left – a new cria!


I urged Mags to finish his milk quickly, Song had already finished hers and Mags was almost finished.  I then went over to the maternity pen and there sitting in the straw at the entrance to the shelter was a brand new cria!


Looking inside the shelter I could see that Dutchess must have delivered in there.  She has spent a lot of her time recently in front of the fan in the shelter and she must have felt most comfortable there.  Certainly she didn’t come out of the shelter to the poop piles or lie outside while she was having contractions, as I would have noticed her.


Of course I called Regina to give her the good news and asked her if she had a premonition when she called me earlier in the day.  I reckon Dutchess was sending telepathic messages her way (or maybe the fact that Dutchess’s due date was October 2 had something to do with it!).


Dutchess and her cria are doing well.  This is Dutchess’s third cria and she is an excellent dam, she is attentive and a great milk producer but definitely more hands off in her preferences when it comes to anyone handling her cria.  The cria is a sturdy boy with great bone density and an interesting fleece color, he is a medium to dark fawn but has more of an ash hue to his fleece than the more usual red tone that you tend to see in a fawn alpaca.  It may be that he is going to be a light rose grey, tomorrow when he is more settled in we will examine his fleece more thoroughly to see if we can determine a color.


So congratulations Bob and Regina on another beautiful cria from your herdsire Andean Night.  I don’t know what you are planning on naming him, but I think for now Beeper and Sleeper are going to have a new playmate called Sneaker!





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.



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