A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 6, 2009

Au Revoir Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Sunday saw the departure of Shiimsa and Rio from our farm.  Their new owner Terri Faver collected them so that they could start their new life at Terri’s farm, Almost Canyon Ranch in Canyon, Texas.

Shiimsa is a little bit of a nervous girl and so we gave her some Rescue Remedy to help relax her during her move and also gave both Shiimsa and Rio some MSE Probiotic and Enzyme drench to help their digestive systems adjust to the change in their surroundings.

Shortly after we had finished morning chores we loaded Shiimsa and Rio into Terri’s trailer and they were on their way.  The day was a nice cool one, ideal for traveling alpacas.  Shiimsa showed some concern by humming as we loaded her up, but what she didn’t realize was that once she arrived at her new home she would be reunited with Anya and Serenity who Terri had also purchased from us.  As far as Rio was concerned as long as his dam was there all was okay, I am sure he will miss playing with our other crias, but hopefully Serenity will feel still young enough to join in with his cria games.

What Shiimsa and Rio were also unaware of was that they will soon have access to grass pasture, as Terri has been working hard to get her pastures set up so that the alpacas can go out and graze.  Now that will make them happy!

So we said our farewells to Shiimsa and Rio, but it was really more a case of Au Revoir as we will be seeing them next weekend when we take Regent and Zin over to Terri’s ranch next weekend to breed Anya and Shiimsa.


June 30, 2009

Meconium Matters


Meconium or rather the passing of meconium from a cria really does matter, a point that was reinforced at the farm recently.

Following the birth of Shiimsa’s cria Rio all seemed well.  We found a good sized meconium plug in the pasture the following day, Rio was lively and alert and gaining about a pound a day.

The following day though Rio had a large weight gain, Shiimsa was producing lots of milk so the large weight gain was not too out of keeping with our expectations.  Rio was still looking good, running around the pasture with the other crias despite the high temperatures.  I kept and eye on the crias throughout the day for signs of overheating and was pleased to see them taking frequent breaks in the shade, napping and nursing from their dams.

At evening chores though it was apparent something was not right with Rio.  He was squatting funnily with his rear end.  I watched him, he did not appear to be straining to poop, but Rio was obviously uncomfortable.  In addition to the squatting, Rio would also hang his head down and then eventually cush – he was not a happy cria.

Having seen the meconium plug in the pasture we were dubious that a blockage from meconium was the problem, but whatever the problem was it was bothering Rio’s hindquarters.

We took Rio’s temperature and it was slightly elevated, but in a young cria even a slight elevation can be a red flag. 

Of course Rio’s problem appeared outside of the hours of the veterinary clinic, while his condition did not appear life threatening it was concerning.

Our first suspicion was that Rio perhaps despite us having found a meconium plug in the pasture Rio had retained a piece of meconium.  This would prevent him from being able to poop properly and could cause him discomfort, it might also explain the larger than normal weight gain.  We gave a shot of banamine to help keep his temperature down and to help him relax, we then gave him an enema to see if he would pass anything.  The banamine seemed to provide Rio with some relief and a little while after the enema was administered he stood up and started to strain.  First Rio passed a black thin sticky stream that did look like meconium, and then he passed a much harder lump.  This harder lump was about the size of a large peanut, but it was definitely hard and large enough to have caused a blockage.  Once that hard lump had passed Rio continued to pass what appeared to be normal fecal matter.

It took a couple of hours before Rio was looking truly at ease again, but by the morning he was back to his usual self, chasing around the pasture and nursing up a storm.

Our thoughts are that a small piece of Rio’s meconium did not pass when he passed his meconium plug.  That small piece was enough to prevent Rio from being able to pass poop and as he ran around in the heat he became a little dehydrated making that piece of meconium hard and not easy to pass. 

It is always important to monitor young crias to make sure that they pass the meconium plug; sometimes it is hard to find the plug in the pasture especially if you have long grass.  Often once the cria has passed the plug you will see some evidence of fecal matter on the crias rear, but not always.  A crias behavior can let you know a lot about how he or she is feeling which is why it is important to get to know your crias.  If a lively happy cria starts to become lethargic or uncomfortable that cria is trying to tell you that all is not well. 

We were fortunate that Rio’s problem was easily fixed, if he had not shown improvement as quickly as he did we would have called out the vet, even after hours.  Crias can deteriorate quickly when they are not well and often time is of the essence when it comes to treating sick crias.  In Rio’s case meconium certainly mattered – even if it was just a little piece causing the problem.


June 26, 2009

Next Please!

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

With Queen, Chai and Rosie all having had their crias we still had Shiimsa, Ivanna, TeQueely and Willow to go. 

Shiimsa is now owned by Terri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch.  Shiimsa is one of Terri’s first alpacas and is her first pregnant dam, so Terri has been anxiously awaiting the birth of Shiimsa’s cria.  With Shiimsa being so far along with her pregnancy when Terri purchased her it was decided that Shiimsa would stay with us until after she delivered her cria.

On June 18 we thought Shiimsa was in labor and so called Terri to let her know.  Terri was able to take time off from work and come over for the day, but alas it turned out to be a false alarm and no cria arrived.

On June 21 though it was a different story.  Following chores Ric and I noticed Shiimsa stretched out beside the hay wagon.  Shiimsa typically spends a lot of her day at the hay wagon, but she rarely stayed there to stretch out or sunbathe, so to see her lying beside the hay wagon was a clue that she might have started labor.

We watched Shiimsa for a while and we could see that this time she really was in labor.  I called Terri who was taking part in a horse show that day and left her a voicemail to let her know that Shiimsa was in labor.  A short while later I received a call back from Terri, she had finished showing her horse and so was leaving the horseshow to take her horse home and then head our way.

By the time I spoke to Terri I could just about see the birthing sack starting to emerge.  Progress was a little slow, but Shiimsa is a maiden alpaca and so her body had to do some new stretching to accommodate the progression of the cria.   I decided to go into the house to collect my birthing kit, towels and other supplies, thinking I had several minutes before the cria was born.

By the time I had gathered my supplies I could see two little legs flapping around behind Shiimsa.  From her earlier slow progress Shiimsa had gathered speed and the cria was nearly fully emerged! 

I made it to Shiimsa just as her cria landed on the ground.  I moved the cria onto a clean blanket and started to dry it off and then checked to see whether the cria was a boy or a girl – it was another boy and another handsome boy at that.

Shiimsa’s cria is either bay black or black and has an unbelievably soft handle to his fleece.  His fleece is crimpy, shiny, fine and dense – what more could you ask for in such a dark male alpaca.

We knew Terri had been hoping for a girl, but once she arrived and saw her new cria she was very happy with him.  Terri already had a name picked out for him – “Rio”.
It is sometimes hard to tell the quality of a young cria, so much can change as they grow up, but little Rio is already showing a lot of potential.  Conformationally he is well put together and with that spectacular fleece I see the words “Color Champion” in Rio’s future.  If that is the case Rio will be following in the footsteps of his sire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel as well as his grandsire Dom Lucilio and his great grandsires Royal Fawn and Acero Marka’s Champ.

Shiimsa has proved to be an excellent mother; she is very attentive to Rio and gets quite distressed when he is out of her sight.  Shiimsa also has lots of milk, a great trait for a female alpaca.  I think Shiimsa has given Terri a great new addition to her alpaca herd.

Ric and I will look forward to seeing Rio grow and mature, we will be making a point to monitor this young male’s show and breeding career, but that is all in the future, for now we will have fun to watching him gallop around the pasture with the other spring crias. 


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