A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 18, 2009

Will She or Wont She?

That is the game we will be playing at the farm as spring cria season comes upon us.  With several girls due to have their crias over the next six weeks we will be watching for signs of impending labor.

The first girl to set us on our toes in anticipation is Rose Marie.  Rose Marie is due on May 30, but as I write this blog entry I am getting the feeling that we may well be seeing her cria before then.

Rose Marie was shorn this Saturday (May 16).  As she was so close to her due date we gave her some banamine to help prevent or stop any contractions and some Acepromazine to sedate her a little.  By the time we sheared Rose Marie she was definitely under the influence of the Acepromazine.   

With all of the pregnant girls we take extra steps to be careful when shearing them.  We lower them onto the mat as gently as possible and try and get them shorn as quickly as possible.  The pregnant girls may look a little less “polished” in appearance once they are shorn, but safety of the pregnancy is much more important than appearances.

Sunday turned into a great day for cria delivery, sunny with temperatures into the 70’s it was a beautiful day.

Shortly after feeding I noticed Rosie cush in front of one of the hay feeders, taking her time to lower herself to the ground.  Her actions were different from usual and enough to catch my attention.  I know from experience that with alpacas it is the subtle signs that give you a clue something may be happening.

Rosie didn’t get up to join the herd when we put out beet pulp shreds, which is not like her at all.  I kept a spoonful of the shreds for her and took them over to her once the other alpacas were all busy eating.  Rosie nibbled at them but not as heartily as she normally does.

The next odd sign with Rosie was her straining over the poop pile.  She did pass some poop but stayed at the poop pile a long time, even chewing her cud as she stood there.   Finally she took a couple of steps and then cushed close to the poop pile – hmm something was definitely going on.

Rosie stayed cushed for a while but then kicked her legs out to the side a little.  After a while she laid on her side, still chewing her cud, again an unusual behavior.  I stood close to Rosie and watched her for a while.  She was not groaning and did not seem to be distressed.  There was a little movement of the cria towards Rosie’s rear but no contractions that I could see.  Rosie didn’t look puffy in the rear end and so I started to wonder if she was just in the process of rearranging the cria.  I decided to give her a little longer to see how things progressed.

About 30 minutes later Rosie was happily eating at the hay rack and I was starting to think that perhaps she was not in labor at all, but at the next check (about another 30 minutes) while Rosie was still heartily eating there was another change.  Now Rosie was puffy under the tail and the other girls were occasionally sniffing her.

So who knows or as the title of this entry says “Will she or wont she?”  It is difficult to say, this is only Rosie’s second cria and with her first cria she showed no signs of impending labor and then delivered her cria at night.  Fortunately I do nightly checks on the pregnant girls and discovered Rosie in labor that time.

My suspicion as I write this blog entry (it is now just past noon on Sunday) is that Rosie may be in the early stages of labor and that we may have a cria this afternoon or tonight.  Then again perhaps what I witnessed was just a change that indicates the advancement of Rosie’s pregnancy.  Time will tell, and until the time the cria is born we will be playing the will she or won’t she game.


August 25, 2008

Someone’s Alpacas Forgot to Read the Book!

Primadonna's Cria

Primadonna's Cria




Friday evening brought a phone call from Bob Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  One of the girls at their farm, Primadonna, had just delivered a cria at 7:30 pm.  Fortunately Friday evening was one of those beautiful still, warm New Mexico nights that we enjoy during the summer.


Typically alpacas give birth between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  It is thought that the reason for this is that in areas of South America where alpacas did much of their evolution the night time temperatures are very cool, by birthing during the warmer hours of the day the crias would dry off quicker and be up and around on their legs well before night fall.  Crias are usually up and around within an hour of birth and quite steady on their legs in a few hours after birth.


So what made Primadonna have her cria in the evening?  That’s a good question.  Interestingly we have noticed that most of the girls at the Darts farm birth in the late afternoon to early evening while ours birth in mid-morning to early afternoon.  There are only about 11 miles separating the two farms so we can hardly feel geography, weather or daylight are the factors involved.  The Darts and us have a running joke about how our girls birth during the typical alpaca hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. while their girls have obviously not read the book on alpaca behavior.  After all how can two farms so geographically close have such a difference in the behavior pattern of their birthing dams?


One factor we do wonder about is if it is the time of day that the alpacas receive their daily ration of pellets that effects their birthing time.  One of the few differences between our two farms is that we feed pellets in the morning and the Darts feed pellets in the evening.  I know some of my girls will absolutely not give birth until after the morning feed, so perhaps that is the influencing factor.


When we first came into the alpaca business we were told that deliveries that occurred late in the day were often dystocias (badly presented births), but that has not been the case with the Dart’s herd.  Neither has it been the case for two other herds that I am aware of who consistently experienced late day birthings.  One of those herds has now been sold and the alpacas are with various new owners so there is no way to check if they fed pellets later in the day.  The other herd was one I visited in England where the grazing was so lush that the owner just put out free choice minerals and did not feed her herd any form of supplemental feed. 


I think it would be interesting and fun to have an informal poll on birthing times.  So if you are an alpaca owner and are reading this blog, perhaps you can post a comment stating


  1. The time of day most of your births occur (early morning, mid morning, early afternoon etc.)
  2. When you feed your supplemental feed if in fact you feed any
  3. Your ideas as to why your births occur at that time of day


I look forward to reading your comments!




– and congratulations to Mitch and Twila Murry of Sandy Acres Alpaca Farm, Lakeview, Texas the new owners of Primadonna and her cria.  What a great start to their new alpaca venture!

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