A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 1, 2009

Alpacas In, Alpacas Out

 

This weekend we have been joined by Dale and Melissa Armer of Hidden Acres Farm in, Lena Louisiana.

 

Dale and Melissa have come to pick up their alpacas Orchid and Candytuft. Orchid and Candytuft have been with us since March so that Orchid could be bred to our Enchantment’s Prince Regent. Orchid has been confirmed pregnant and is now able to travel home. We have enjoyed having Orchid and Candytuft here, in particular watching Candytuft grow up from a one month cria to the now 5 month cria that she is.

 

Having traveled such a long way to pick up Orchid and Candytuft, Dale and Melissa decided to add value to their trip by bringing us two more of their girls for breeding to our males. So as Orchid and Candytuft leave, Mirabella, Ladybelle and Mirabella’s cria Ginnybelle arrive.

 

The three new arrivals have quickly settled in and today our time will be spent with Dale and Melissa talking about all things alpaca and helping them make their final decision as to who to breed Mirabella and Ladybelle too. The girls however will not be bred until around November so that when they have their crias next year they will not be delivering in the heat and humidity of a Louisiana summer.

 

Of course all of our herd were curious about the new arrivals, gathering at the fence line to look at the new girls in the quarantine pen. The new girls seemed glad to see other alpacas following their long trailer ride and of course wasted no time in having a good roll in the dirt!

 

Rosemary

 

 

March 21, 2009

The First of the Farm Visitors Arrive

 

Yesterday afternoon our friend and fellow alpaca breeder Dale Amer arrived at the farm bringing with him a date for one of our alpaca boys.  Dale drove from Alexandria, Louisiana, a long drive especially when you are hauling a trailer with a female alpaca and her young cria.

 

We had the quarantine pen set up ready for the arrival of the two alpacas, and Orchid (the adult female) and her cria Candytuft soon made themselves at home.  Our girls all lined up at the fence line to view the new arrivals and our fall crias were very curious about Candytuft, staring at her through the fence and watching her explore the quarantine pen.  To keep Orchid and Candytuft company we also put our two non-reproductive females Primera and Ma Cushla in the quarantine pen.  It is so nice to have a couple of females who we can use for quarantine companions, especially when you only have one or two alpacas arriving to go into quarantine.  Alpacas really do like to be in groups and by providing Primera and Ma Cushla as companions we find that the visiting alpacas soon settle down and start to feel at ease.

 

Dale is a relatively new alpaca breeder and so today will be devoted to answering any burning questions he has and showing him how we manage our herd at our farm.  He will also get to select which male he wishes to breed Orchid to.

 

Orchid and Candytuft will remain in quarantine for three weeks and then we will breed Orchid.  Hopefully she will get pregnant easily and it won’t be too long before she is headed back to Louisiana, although in view of the long journey ahead of her she will probably not return home until she is at least 60 days pregnant.

 

What was good to see last night was that at dusk Candytuft was galloping around the pasture as a happy cria will do and Orchid was standing at the hayrack alongside Ma Cushla and Primera.  Looks like the long journey did not bother our two visitors too much!

 

In the next few days we will have another visiting alpaca arrive – breeding season is definitely starting and according to our herdsires it’s not a moment too soon!

 

Rosemary

February 7, 2009

Delivering Crias Long Distance

Here I Come - A New Cria Enters the World

Here I Come - A New Cria Enters the World

 

Thursday afternoon brought us a telephone call from Dale Amer a retired Air Force friend of Ric’s.    Dale and Ric worked together in the Air Force for several years, when Dale retired from the Air Force he went into a construction related business in Louisiana.  Last year Dale had contacted us about alpacas and the alpaca business.  After visiting with us Dale purchased some alpacas from a farm in Louisiana, the owner of the alpacas was looking to retire and as the alpacas were already acclimatized to the heat and humidity of that area they were a good purchase for Dale as a new breeder.

 

With all of the storms that have taken place in Louisiana and the surrounding states Dale has been extremely busy with his construction business and has not had much time to update us on his alpaca business.

 

Thursday afternoon though, Dale arrived home to discover that one of his maiden female alpacas was having a cria.  Dale has delivered calves before, and has also owned horses that foaled, but the horses foaled at night so Dale never saw them being born.  To be on the safe side Dale gave us a call to ask us if what he was seeing was normal.

 

Apart from the delivery being a little later in the day than is usual for alpacas, what Dale described to us over the phone sounded to be a textbook delivery. Head, neck and legs were presented, the cria was breathing and Dale was seeing regular progress.  We stayed on the phone with Dale until the cria was on the ground and then let him go to take care of the alpaca and her new cria.  A follow up call a short while later let us know that both dam and cria were doing well and that the cria was a girl!

 

We answered a few questions Dale had, mentioned a few tips and aspects of care that might be helpful to him and then let him get on his way to enjoying the first cria born at his farm.  What a great moment to share with a friend over the phone.  Congratulations Dale, we hope your new cria continues to follow the path of the easy delivery that brought her into this world and that she goes on to bring you much success.

 

Rosemary

 

 

 

October 23, 2007

Back Home and Look Whose Here!

Chai’s New Cria     Chai’s New Cria Face On 

I made it back safely from Louisiana, my flights were good and I had no trouble making it to the airport on time.  On the drive back to the airport I was again amazed by the Causeway that runs 26 miles or so over water, it was interesting to see the skyline of New Orleans emerge as I drew closer and I couldn’t help but think what it must have been like on the Causeway during Hurricane Katrina. 

I arrived home at 1 a.m. on Monday morning, Ric picked me up at the airport and was ready to tell me how awful the weather had been (high winds, dust and cold) and that Chai still had not had her cria.  Later that morning though it was a different story as we realized during morning chores that Chai was in labor and a cria was on its way.

Chai had a very typical alpaca labor, the first sign I noticed that she was sitting in a different place than she usually sits first thing in the morning and that she had her weight on one hip.  A little later Chai took herself away from the herd and lay down for a while with her neck stretched out and then rolled.  Shortly after that she started visiting the poop piles and straining but no poop was forthcoming.  When Chai moved away from the poop piles and lay down again I approached her gently and lifted her tail.  I could see that her vulva was puffy and that her udder was full.

By the time we fed the girls the cria’s head had not yet presented, but again Chai’s behavior was unusual as she lay down immediately after she ate.  Usually Chai mooches about the pen once she has eaten and waits for her bucket of hay to be delivered, but today instead she lay down and the next thing we knew there were two feet and a head.

The delivery continued on and within a few short minutes we had a cria on the ground, a gorgeous chocolate brown girl.

It was not exactly the best weather for a cria to be born into.  The morning was cool (about 40 degrees) and the winds were blowing at 20-25 mph with 30 mph gusts – brrr!  I had gone into the house to get towels and my cria kit once the cria’s feet and head had presented, while Ric stayed with Chai.  I grabbed more towels than usual and the hair dryer as I knew with the cold wind blowing we were going to need to work fast to prevent the cria from getting chilled.

While I worked on drying the cria, Ric moved some of our portable pens into the small shelter and set up an area that would be more sheltered and warm for Chai and her cria.  He also set up a heat lamp and an extension cord for my hair dryer. 

It took a little while to get the cria dry and warmed up but with some vigorous towel drying and then the use of the hair dryer we were able to get there.  Once the cria was warm she started trying to stand and within a short while was nursing from Chai.

As the day was so cold once we had the cria completely dry we put a cria coat on her.  It’s important to make sure a cria is completely dry before putting on the cria coat or else you stand the risk of trapping in moisture that can make the cria colder rather than warmer.

We were able to let Chai and her cria out for the afternoon to allow the cria to run around and stretch her legs.  We feel it’s important for crias to be out running around as it helps keep their body temperature up and stimulates their newly born bodies to function properly.

So our last cria of the fall is born and Chai did a great job giving birth and producing yet another pretty daughter, that’s three for Chai so far.  Later today our vet will be out to draw blood from the cria for her IgG test and BVD PCR test, we have also asked him to run some routine bloodwork on Chai who had shown some joint soreness in the latter part of her pregnancy.  Chai has seemed quite a lot better since delivering her cria, but we don’t want to make any assumptions about her health and want to make sure everything is working as it should be. We’ve had a great start to the week, now if we can just get the temperature to go back up and a soft rain to fall we will be really happy.  We can’t be too greedy though as life has just presented us with a beautiful chocolate brown cria, so for now we will take that little gift and enjoy her as she develops and grows.

Rosemary

October 18, 2007

Poop, Soup and an Interesting Facial!

Yesterday was an incredibly windy day with sustained winds at 35 – 40 mph and some wind gusts reaching in the mid fifties.  It is always a challenge to do chores in those conditions, getting the hay to the pastures without half of it blowing away, putting out fresh water without a ton of sand landing in it, trying to scoop poop and getting it successfully in the wheelbarrow – such are the joys of doing chores in high winds.

On such an inclement day I have little inclination to be working outside so once the chores were finished it was time to take care of some tasks inside the house.  I am leaving on Friday to go to the Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo in Folsom, Louisiana to give a presentation on preparing alpaca fleece for showing, and so took the opportunity to gather my paperwork together, check my travel arrangements and start packing for my trip.

With the fall weather outside, it was a good day to have something warm to eat and so I made up a batch of minestrone soup for lunch.  It’s been several months since it has been cool enough to have soup here and so it was a welcome change to our lunch time menu – and it didn’t last long either!

Then it was time to run some fecal tests on the girls pasture.  I had tested the quarantine boys the day before and discovered that despite giving them a preventative treatment for coccidia when they first returned from the State Fair there was still some coccidia present, so another round of treatment is in the works.  The girl’s fecal test however was good which was pleasing and is a testament to our quarantine procedures and also to our use of diatomaceous earth on our feed.  As always when working with fecal samples I was extra careful in the handling of the samples and also of the clean up of my work area once I had finished my tests.  Bleach solution is a wonderful thing!

By 4:30 pm it was time for chores again and the wind was still blowing hard, so round two of battling the winds commenced.  The poor alpacas were not too impressed with the weather either, they loved the falling leaves dropping into the pasture but the wind and dirt blowing into their eyes was not nice for them.  They have access to their shelters and stayed in there for part of the day, but as grazing animals they need to get out and about several times during the day.

On days like today we joke that there is no need to spend money on skin exfoliation treatments in this area – just a couple or rounds of doing chores in the wind and the dust and you get plenty of abrasive exfoliation for your skin!  So not only did I get my work done but I also got to have a facial too!

Rosemary 

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