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.

 

Rosemary

March 15, 2008

Watching and Waiting For Willow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:01 am

Willow our escapologist alpaca is looking most definitely pregnant, Ric described her the other day as a little butterball as she almost looks as wide as she is long!  Willow is not a very big alpaca; she takes after her dam Clarissa who is on the small side.  Being small and having a short body does mean that for both Clarissa and Willow their pregnancies show earlier than some of the longer bodied alpacas.

As I have watched Willow’s “bump” grow, I have started to wonder if she is expecting a large cria and if so if she is going to be able to deliver without any problems.  She is maiden and so has not delivered a cria before so I hope that the delivery of her cria will be routine without any problems.  But something has been nagging me about her looking so big, we have other females due before her and even allowing for their body style they still do not look as advanced in their pregnancy as Willow does – and then it struck me, maybe I anticipating the wrong due date.

This really came to mind when I was pulling up Willow’s records the other day.  I had previously run a due date calendar from my Herdlogic software where we keep all the alpaca records and it showed Willow due in June 2008.  While I was looking up some show record information on Willow I checked her breeding records too and those records refreshed my memory as to what happened with Willow during last year’s breeding season.

Willow actually bred three times, the first breeding was one of the earliest ones we did for our herd and was to our Junior Herdsire Trevasura’s Altiplano Treasure.  Willow had cushed readily when introduced to Treasure and the breeding seemed to go well, but during one of the following behavior tests several weeks later she cushed again.  We bred Willow at that time to our herdsire Tobiano and again all seemed to be going well until during one behavior test she cushed again.  We rebred Willow to Tobiano and this time each subsequent behavior test resulted in Willow rejecting the male.  Based on those observations we based Willow’s due date on that last breeding.  Now though I am beginning to wonder.

Simply put, during a pregnancy it is the hormones in the female alpacas system that make her unreceptive to the male alpaca.   What happens though if those hormones are not produced to the necessary levels to instigate that behavior, or if perhaps the female alpacas brain does not recognize those hormones as it should.  Well then you could get a maiden female alpaca that would breed again despite being pregnant.

At this stage it is hard to tell if that is the case with Willow or if she is just carrying a large “bump” during her pregnancy.  We have heard of other alpaca breeders who have had maiden females who breed after being pregnant and then get a cria too early for the latter breeding date.  Once the cria is born the breeders realize that the cria is a result of the first breeding. 

For now all I know is that Willow is definitely pregnant, when she has her cria will perhaps give me a better idea of when she conceived the pregnancy.  Having used two different sires on Willow will also help us determine when the cria was conceived as when we submit the crias blood sample to the Alpaca Registry, Inc. for DNA testing they will let us know which is the correct sire.

I will keep a close eye on Willow in the coming weeks, if the first breeding date was the successful one she could have her cria as early as April, so we need to be prepared in case that is when the cria is born.  All we can do in the meantime is watch and wait, in time nature (and Willow) will give us the answer.

Rosemary  

October 8, 2007

Pregnant and Uncomfortable

Our alpaca Chai is showing signs that her pregnancy is taking its toll on her.  Throughout the day she cushes a lot and she is delighted that the fall out from the big bale in the large shelter provides her with a cushioned area where she can cush and eat at the same time.

It’s not unusual for the alpaca girls to slow down and take things a little easier in the final stages of pregnancy.  I must admit though that I am a little surprise that Chai is sitting around as much as she is as she is not as big as she usually is by this stage of pregnancy.  It has been warmer than usual the past couple of days and that may be taking it’s toll on Chai, the next couple of days though are supposed to be cooler so we will get an opportunity to watch Chai in cooler conditions and better gauge her behavior.

Chai does usually act a little differently toward the end of her pregnancy, whereas she is usually one of the first to get into the pens to eat when she is heavily pregnant Chai seems to think that going into a pen is not a wise idea.  The past two days Chai has refused to go into her normal pen for morning and evening feed, it’s not that she doesn’t want to eat, once we catch her she eats her food with gusto, but she definitely gets wary of the pens.  Perhaps she feels that if she is in a pen and goes into labor she will not be able to move about as she would like to, or that us two-leggeds (humans) will bother her too much while she is giving birth.

Chai is only 14 days away from her due date if we base that date on 345 days post breeding, and as Chai usually has her crias around the 345th day of pregnancy she will probably go a little longer before having her cria.

The other night when I checked on the girls Chai’s cria was being very lively, kicking poor Chai hard – no wonder she is feeling a little sore.

We will be keeping a really close eye on Chai until she has her cria, checking her udder daily to see if it is getting enlarged, checking under her tail to see if she has any puffiness in that area and watching for signs that she is in labor (sitting on one hip, frequent unproductive trips to the poop pile, rolling on each side).   When the time comes for Chai to have her cria I know that she is a girl who prefers me to keep a little distance, so I will respect that fact and watch her from a distance that is far enough away for her to feel relaxed yet close enough to step in if she should need assistance.  In the meantime though I will watch and wait and look forward to the day when Chai’s cria makes its entry into the world.

Rosemary

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