A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 2, 2009

When the Whole Herd Prongs ….

It’s time to take cover!  Especially if your guard llamas are joining in as well!

With recent snows and falling temperatures the animals on the farm have been a little friskier.  The horses like to have a little buck and kick session as the excitement of feeding time combines with their need to stay active and warm.  The dogs are ready to dash about all over the place, especially puppy Blue who is about as fast as a dog can get speeding here and there as she follows Ric during morning chores.  The alpaca boys like to warm up by taking part in some extra wrestling sessions especially as evening feeding time draws nearer.   We keep an eye on the boys as they wrestle, 90% of the time they are fine but if we see things starting to get a bit too rough then we will intervene.  Usually clapping our hands or whistling will distract them long enough to break up the wrestling match, but if that fails the appearance of more hay or feed usually gets the boys attention away from wrestling.

In the girls pen the friskiness is less aggressive, with the young crias in with the girls it is usually not long before sunset that  a couple of the crias start to race around the pasture, increasing their body temperatures as they gallop at full speed.  Occasionally a few of the adult girls will join in and we are treated to the sight of the adult girls in full prong, bouncing up into the air with tails raised and heads held high.

Tuesday evening though saw a rare event, the site of the whole female pasture pronging together as a herd, from the smallest cria to the oldest dam and our guard llamas too they moved together as one from one side of the pasture to the other and back again.  By the time this happened it was dark, having been delayed starting the evening chores I was later getting to the girls than usual and by the time I was ready to feed them the daylight had gone.  You would think that the site of the feed wagon loaded down with hay and feed would be enough to get the girls to stop, but no they were just having too much fun and the pronging continued.

There was no point in going into the pasture any further to try and stop them, they weren’t paying attention to me and the last thing I wanted was to get mown down by a herd of cavorting camelids – try explaining that to the doctor!   There was nothing else to be done but stand back and watch the site of my happy herd (and yes they finally did settle down to eat but it took a while!).


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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