A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 3, 2009

Homeward Bound

Friday saw the return home of three alpaca girls who had been here for breeding, Moonshadow, Ariana and Sonora.  Picked up by their owners Marilyn Knudsen and Roberto Ibarra of Altiplano Alpacas and Melita Clark and Mark Hogan of Milagro Meadow Alpaca Ranch, the girls wasted no time getting started on happily munching the hay that was in their trailer.


We had a great visit with Marilyn, Roberto, Melita and Mark catching up on our news and showing off our alpacas to them.  Later in the year we will hear from them as the girls deliver their crias and hopefully we will get a chance to see those crias either at their farms on the show circuit.  It is always pleasing to catch up with the offspring of our herdsires and see how they turned out. 


Offering alpaca breeding services at our farm is enjoyable to us and of course contributes to the farm income.  To me it is great to greet new arrivals, get to know their different personalities and send them home pregnant with a much anticipated cria.  To be able to make a positive contribution to another alpaca breeders breeding program brings us great satisfaction.


During their stay here, visiting alpacas are treated just like all of the other alpacas in our herd and become part of the “alpaca family” so as to say.  There is often a slight tinge of sadness when they leave us, accompanied by happiness from their owners who are glad to be reunited with their alpacas again.


Often alpaca breedings run smoothly, with the girls being ready to be bred and getting pregnant on the first or second breeding attempt.  Occasionally we run into a problem such as a retained CL, an immature maiden, uterine infections or hormonal imbalances.  When such problems occur we work closely with the owner and our vet to try and end up with a good result.  In all of our years of offering alpaca breedings there have only been two times that we have been unable to achieve a pregnancy, a good ratio for us, but of course not good news for the owners of the alpacas concerned.


We were careful to get some experience of breeding alpacas before we started offering breeding services to other breeders.  The natural growth of our herd enabled us to breed several of our own females before advertising for business from other farms.  Educational seminars were also a big help, although there are always going to be scenarios that crop up that are not covered and that challenge you. 


It is a big responsibility to take on the care and reproductive future of another farms alpacas and it was important to us to at least have some experience and success under our belts before taking on that responsibility.   As time progressed we learned the benefits of having a good contract, clear and frequent communication, a quarantine protocol, a good vet, a good network of alpaca breeders to refer to and a thorough understanding of alpacas.  All of those things help make our job easier and contribute to a successful alpaca breeding.


So now Moonshadow, Ariana and Sonora are back at their home farms and we have three less alpacas in our care.  It always amazes me how just having three less makes a difference to the herd, things seemed a little quieter when I did chores the evening after the girls left and there was a definite reduction in the amount of poop in the poop piles!  I am sure it won’t be long though before new visitors arrive and we will have new alpacas to get acquainted with.



October 21, 2008

And Another Little One Joins Us


With four girls left to give birth we have been keeping a close eye on the expectant dams.  Sunday night Melody seemed a little uncomfortable in the evening, sitting rolled onto one hip, then sitting sternal and then rolling back onto her hip again.  So it was Melody we thought would be the next to deliver.


Monday was a sunny day even though it was a little blustery, all of the girls ate well in the morning and Melody seemed more comfortable with no more signs of possible labor.  The new crias were having fun chasing each other, interspersed with periods of napping in the sun.


In the early afternoon the weather suddenly changed, the sky grew cloudy, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped as a cold front came into the area.  It seemed that the sudden change in pressure had another effect too as I became aware that Essie was walking a little strangely.  She had that same stiff, waddling gate that Clarissa had on Saturday – she was in labor.


Essie is a maiden alpaca, this being her first experience of giving birth and the look of her face seemed to say “What the heck is going on back there?”  The poor thing looked quite perplexed!  Essie was soon to discover what was going on as she went on to deliver a beautiful, golden brown female cria.   Having delivered the crias head and feet, Essie took a break to sit down and chew her cud, before delivering the rest of the cria.


Both Essie and the cria belong to our alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart.  Bob was out of town on Monday but Regina was able to come over to see her new arrival being delivered.


The cria was a little tired after being born and took a nap while Essie delivered the afterbirth (this time with a look of “Now What is Happening” on her face).  Once Essie was comfortable the cria woke up as if on cue, struggled to take her first steps and was soon nursing from her dam.


So the new cria group is now up to six, with three more left to arrive.  Maybe today will be Melody’s day, we’ll just have to wait and see.





June 14, 2008

And Our Latest Bundle of Joy Is …………

Desert Sandstorm and Willow

Windrush Desert Sandstorm, a beautiful little male cria who was born to our girl Windrush Desert Willow on Wednesday June 11.


Willow is a small female and had been very large with her pregnancy so we suspected that she may be carrying a boy and we were right.  Still he was not too large, weighing in at 15.4 lbs and is the most beautiful champagne color.  When you part his fleece though his fiber is white close to the skin and so we suspect he will end up being a white alpaca.  It is not unusual for alpaca crias to change color as they mature and it is always interesting to see where they end up on the color chart.


Willow delivered her cria with ease and pretty quickly.  Her dam Clarissa is also a quick birther and must have passed on that talent to little Willow.  Sandstorm was very vigourous when he was born and was up on his feet within 30 minutes of being delivered – and that boy was born hungry!


As Willow is a maiden we were not sure how she would take to having a cria, but she has taken everything in her stride, standing stock still to let him nurse and chasing after him with concern when he wanders off.  Willow is proving to be a good alpaca dam.


We decided to name Willow’s cria Desert Sandstorm as it ties in with Willow’s full name of Desert Willow, the cria is sandy in color and the day he was born we were treated to yet another sand storm!  Sandstorm and Willow had to spend most of the day in a pen in the shelter to keep them out of the wind and dust, but fortunately the wind died down later that evening and Sandstorm was able to venture out for a runaround.  By the time we let Sandstorm out of the pen he was more than ready to stretch his young legs and join in with the evening cria games.


So now we have eight crias tearing up the pasture every evening.  They really are a lot of fun to watch and it’s great that they can interact with each other and play as alpaca crias should – chasing, running at a full gallop, pronging, jumping over each other and seeing who can make the fastest turn or the bravest stop in front of the fence.


We now have a two to three week break before Cinnamon is due to have her cria and maybe the blog will be updated on a more regular basis.  There are several crias still to be introduced to our blog readers and I will go back to trying to catch up on those introductions.  Our shearing is now done, little Dream only needs a bottle twice a day and our crias are doing a good job of providing us with entertainment.  Of course we now have the job of deciding what we are going to do with our fleeces and getting them shipped off for processing, but we already have a plan of most of our fleeces so while it will take time it should not be a difficult process.


Today we are having an Open Ranch Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. so if you are reading this and are local to the Clovis area, come out and visit us and you can meet all of the Windrush family both two legged and four legged in person.



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