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.



June 26, 2008

Another Success – of Sorts

In an earlier post (see post June 9, 2008) I had mentioned that Theresa, one of the alpacas who is boarded with us, had a retained CL that we were treating.  Theresa had fooled us into believing she was pregnant and after over a year’s wait we realized that she had a retained CL that made her think she was pregnant.


We started treating Theresa with Estrumate to help her release the CL and cycle again.  The first treatment had an effect on Theresa but not the one we were looking for.  The Estrumate seemed to make Theresa feel that she had delivered a cria and she stole Ivanna’s cria Zianna.  Zianna (who is still to be introduced on this blog) was quite happy to spend her day with Theresa, but Theresa didn’t have any milk and Ivanna wanted her cria back and so we put Theresa in with a group of young alpacas we were weaning. 


Not having had any success with the Estrumate treatment we repeated it a week later, Theresa continued to reject the male indicating to us that the retained CL was still retained.  We consulted with our vet who suggested that we wait another week and try the treatment again.  If that was not effective we would then need to consult a reproductive specialist.


We gave Theresa the third Estrumate treatment and finally this past Saturday she cushed for our male alpaca Zin and allowed herself to be bred.  Zin who usually breeds for 20 minutes bred Theresa for 40 minutes.  We mentioned this to our vet when we were at his clinic for the ultrasound appointment and our vet said that all of the Estrumate Theresa had received might have had an effect on how she smelt to Zin encouraging his marathon breeding session.  Thinking back I had noticed that Zin had been glued to the fence line for most of the week, gazing longingly over at the girls pasture – perhaps all of that Estrumate really had put love in the air!


On Tuesday while we were breeding some other alpacas I noticed Theresa walk over and cush in front of Zin’s pen indicating that she still has not cycled or conceived.  Having noticed Theresa’s behavior we decided to breed her again yesterday which would be three days since the last breeding.  I fully expected Theresa to cush immediately Zin entered the pen, but instead she spit at him, screamed in his face and then cushed.  This is not normal for Theresa, she is usually pretty definite in her reactions and to me her reaction to Zin was a bit of a mixed message.  Zin bred her for 20 minutes this time, during which Theresa remained cushed and seemed very comfortable.  Still though a question hovers in my mind as to whether she really has not cycled or whether the Estrumate now has her confused as to her reproductive state.


We are going to wait several days before testing Theresa again to allow her body a chance to decide what it really feels.  Should she cush again for Zin then we will take some different steps to ensure that she does not have a uterine infection before we subject her to another breeding.  An alpaca breeding is quite hard on the female’s reproductive tract and we would rather take things a little slower and make sure Theresa is healthy than over breed her and possibly cause more damage than good.


And while we figure out what to do with Theresa young Zin will have to spend his days gazing across at the girls pasture acknowledging the fact that as far as a breeding male alpaca is concerned love is in the air and just a pasture away!



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