A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 23, 2008

Another Plate to Juggle

My poor blog has been neglected these last few days as my time has been needed elsewhere.  Shearing is still a priority and gradually we are getting there.  We still have 19 alpacas left to shear but some of those are girls who are due to have their crias at any time and who will probably not be shorn until after giving birth.


In addition to shearing we are still bottle feeding our little female cria who was born in the early hours of last Saturday morning.  She is up to 3 hours between bottles now and most likely will soon be able to go four hours between feedings.  She had a bit of a set back as she contracted an infection but thankfully has responded well to antibiotics and is now a lively little thing.  We have finally come up with names for her and Queen’s cria but I will disclose those in another entry. 


On Wednesday we were just about to start chores when we noticed that Bjorn was in labor.  Bjorn’s labor went well and within a short time she delivered a hefty 20.5 lb white male cria, followed shortly by a 9.2 lb. placenta.   That’s nearly 30 lbs that poor Bjorn was carrying around with her!  Bjorn was understandably tired after delivering such a large cria so we gave her some hay, some pellets and a 10cc dose of MSE probiotic enzymes.  We also started her on some arnica Montana to help reduce the bruising and swelling that can follow giving birth.


Bjorn’s cria is a beautiful boy with crimpy, shiny, dense fleece and a beautiful head style.  We are quite happy for the cria to be a male as he will not be related to most our herd.  But there is a problem with him, hopefully one that will rectify itself, for our new cria’s front legs bend backwards. 


We have had our vet examine our new boy and he explained he has seen this condition a lot in horses.  He does not believe the condition to caused by either nutrition or genetics and is optimistic that eventually the crias legs will be normal.  For now our vet has advised us to confine Bjorn and her cria to a small stall to reduce the area that the cria can walk in and also to protect the cria from our rambunctious weanlings.  Splinting the crias legs may be an option, but our vet tells us that in his experience the results of splinting are not much better and splinting brings with it other complications such as pressure sores.


So now when we go out to feed our little girl, we check on our big boy and his dam, making sure he is getting up to nurse, massaging and flexing his joints to the correct position and keeping the stall clean to prevent him from lying in the poop pile that Bjorn has established.  Poor Bjorn is anxious to be cooped up and I think that later today we will let her out for a little walk around the pasture, provided her cria does not get too upset at her being away from him for a short while.


It’s funny how things happen in batches, for years we have had few problems during birthing season and this year we seem to be making up for the years when we were problem free.  At the moment it feels as if we are juggling plates as we move between bottle feeding, giving medicines, working with Bjorn’s cria, watching for signs that another cria is about to be delivered, shearing and just keeping the business running in the meantime.  I have to say that if it were real plates we were juggling we would be in trouble as I have dreadful eye-hand co-ordination, so we will take the “plates” that life is throwing at us for now and hope we continue not to drop them!



March 28, 2008

A More Comfortable Queen

I am happy to report that Queen is doing much better.  She had a more comfortable day yesterday with no need for any more shots or treatment.  I will probably give her another dose of MSE drench today just to be on the safe side.   MSE promotes healthy rumen function in alpacas and due to its vitamin and enzyme content it is good for alpacas who are under stress.  I usually give my pregnant girls some MSE during their last couple of weeks of pregnancy and immediately after birth; it seems to help them bounce back from the birthing process quicker.

I will also treat Queen to another photonic red light treatment, I am sure she will not be fully appreciative of the special care, Queen is not a hands on alpaca, but I want to make sure that she receives the best care we can give her.

Queen spent much of yesterday eating hay and ate her pellets as she normally does.  She is still lying around quite a bit, but considering how big her unborn cria seems to be that is hardly surprising.

On checking my records I can see that our computer program has based her due date on 359 days, which was the length of her previous pregnancy.  A typical alpaca pregnancy is 345 days so she could have the cria in early May.  As large as Queen is though, I would not be surprised if she ends up having the cria early so we will need to be prepared for that.  Queen’s last cria Velvet was 14 lbs at birth and Queen looked enormous when she was carrying Velvet too, but she did not show any discomfort during that pregnancy.  The cria Queen is carrying is the same breeding as Velvet (Queen and our herdsire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel) and so far Zin’s crias have all been a nice size, ranging from 14 to 18 lbs.

Hopefully Queen will not have any more bad days between now and giving birth, and hopefully she will hang onto her cria until closer to her due date!


March 27, 2008

Concern for Queen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:17 am

Late term pregnancy dams are always on my watch list, I want to keep close tabs on them to make sure that they are acting normally and not showing any changes in behavior that might indicate there is a problem with the pregnancy or the health of the dam.  I also like to watch for movement of the cria, which reassures me that the little one is alive (and usually kicking).

Our alpaca Queen is nine years old and an experienced dam.  She has not had any problems with her previous crias and is one of those great female alpacas who breeds one time, knows she is pregnant and makes it clear to you that she doesn’t need the services of a male again until after her cria is born.  With Queen once she is bred you will not even get her anywhere close to a male, as soon as she sees him she plants her feet in the ground and refuses to move closer to him. 

Queen is a short bodied alpaca and so her pregnancies show very easily.  Currently she has a huge bump and an active cria inside her.  I remember last year when she was expecting Velvet she was also huge and a few days before giving birth amazed me by jumping over one of the trough feeders.

At the weekend I noticed that Queen was sitting around a lot, sometimes with the herd and sometimes on her own.  Of course heavily pregnant dams do tend to sit around more than those that are not pregnant, but there was something about Queen’s behavior that caught my attention.

During our Open Farm Day I had to break away from our visitors when I noticed Queen stand up and hold her tail in an odd position.  I checked to make sure that she didn’t have a cria making it’s appearance under her tail but all looked good.

I call Queen’s tail the semaphore tail as toward the end of her pregnancy she carries it in some very strange positions.  I am sure there must be a meaning to each tail position but have not figured it out yet, and Queen does look quite odd at times with her tail in such positions.  Apparently the semaphore tail is a hereditary trait as Queen’s daughter TeQueely, who is expecting her first cria, has started the same sort of behavior with her tail.  Now there are two of them to drive me crazy with their odd tail positions!

While Queen seemed to be okay after Open Farm Day we have kept a close eye on her.  Her due date is not until May 19th so she still has a little way to go before her cria is due. 

On Monday Queen did not come in for her evening “extras”.  She usually gets a few extra pellets in the evening due to her age and her stage of pregnancy.  Queen did come over to the pens but did not go in to eat her pellets, which for her is unusual.  Later that evening Ric noticed Queen sitting on her own, we went out and checked her and she seemed okay and by the next morning she was back to eating as normal.

Yesterday Queen again gave us cause for concern.  She was sitting a lot and just looked a little uncomfortable.  I watched her from the house and noticed that she went over to the poop pile but did not pass any poop.  This concerned me and so I went out to check on Queen and discovered that she was grunting every time she took a breath.  She was cushed by the time I got to her and was obviously a little uncomfortable.  It was time for us to take some action.

We enticed Queen into a pen with some hay (not an easy job as she is one shrewd alpaca and knows when we are trying to catch her.)  Once in the pen I took Queen’s temperature, which thankfully was normal.  I tried to listen to her lungs with my stethoscope but the wind was back to blowing hard making it difficult to hear anything.  I did a digital exam of Queen and discovered beans in her rectal tract not far from the rectal opening so all seemed well there, but as a precaution we gave Queen some MSE drench (a great probiotic drench with added enzymes).  To ease Queen’s discomfort I gave her 1.5 cc of banamine, pain management is important in alpacas and the banamine would help Queen relax, it would also help stop any contractions that might have started.  I also treated Queen with my photonic red light on both her standard points and those that affect the lungs and respiration (photonic red light treatment is based on acupressure points).

Apart from her slight discomfort and grunting Queen looked good.  Her eyes were bright and alert and she was certainly ready to get away from us.  As I examined Queen I could feel her cria moving, just from feeling the crias legs under my hand it felt big and that may be why Queen was so uncomfortable.

We kept a close eye on Queen for the rest of the day.  Her grunting stopped after about an hour, by the evening feeding time she was in her pen waiting for food and then had a good feed on the hay too.

Fingers crossed what we saw with Queen yesterday was just a case of late pregnancy discomfort.  When Queen cushes it looks as if her cria is about to pop out at any minute so I am sure a cria that big could be pushing on Queen’s organs and making it’s presence felt.

We will be keeping an even closer eye on Queen for the next few days and if she shows other signs of discomfort I think a visit from the vet will be in order.  As the old adage goes it’s better to be safe than sorry and I would rather have the vet out to tell me all is well than wait and have a major problem in a few days time.


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