A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

May 18, 2009

Will She or Wont She?

That is the game we will be playing at the farm as spring cria season comes upon us.  With several girls due to have their crias over the next six weeks we will be watching for signs of impending labor.

The first girl to set us on our toes in anticipation is Rose Marie.  Rose Marie is due on May 30, but as I write this blog entry I am getting the feeling that we may well be seeing her cria before then.

Rose Marie was shorn this Saturday (May 16).  As she was so close to her due date we gave her some banamine to help prevent or stop any contractions and some Acepromazine to sedate her a little.  By the time we sheared Rose Marie she was definitely under the influence of the Acepromazine.   

With all of the pregnant girls we take extra steps to be careful when shearing them.  We lower them onto the mat as gently as possible and try and get them shorn as quickly as possible.  The pregnant girls may look a little less “polished” in appearance once they are shorn, but safety of the pregnancy is much more important than appearances.

Sunday turned into a great day for cria delivery, sunny with temperatures into the 70’s it was a beautiful day.

Shortly after feeding I noticed Rosie cush in front of one of the hay feeders, taking her time to lower herself to the ground.  Her actions were different from usual and enough to catch my attention.  I know from experience that with alpacas it is the subtle signs that give you a clue something may be happening.

Rosie didn’t get up to join the herd when we put out beet pulp shreds, which is not like her at all.  I kept a spoonful of the shreds for her and took them over to her once the other alpacas were all busy eating.  Rosie nibbled at them but not as heartily as she normally does.

The next odd sign with Rosie was her straining over the poop pile.  She did pass some poop but stayed at the poop pile a long time, even chewing her cud as she stood there.   Finally she took a couple of steps and then cushed close to the poop pile – hmm something was definitely going on.

Rosie stayed cushed for a while but then kicked her legs out to the side a little.  After a while she laid on her side, still chewing her cud, again an unusual behavior.  I stood close to Rosie and watched her for a while.  She was not groaning and did not seem to be distressed.  There was a little movement of the cria towards Rosie’s rear but no contractions that I could see.  Rosie didn’t look puffy in the rear end and so I started to wonder if she was just in the process of rearranging the cria.  I decided to give her a little longer to see how things progressed.

About 30 minutes later Rosie was happily eating at the hay rack and I was starting to think that perhaps she was not in labor at all, but at the next check (about another 30 minutes) while Rosie was still heartily eating there was another change.  Now Rosie was puffy under the tail and the other girls were occasionally sniffing her.

So who knows or as the title of this entry says “Will she or wont she?”  It is difficult to say, this is only Rosie’s second cria and with her first cria she showed no signs of impending labor and then delivered her cria at night.  Fortunately I do nightly checks on the pregnant girls and discovered Rosie in labor that time.

My suspicion as I write this blog entry (it is now just past noon on Sunday) is that Rosie may be in the early stages of labor and that we may have a cria this afternoon or tonight.  Then again perhaps what I witnessed was just a change that indicates the advancement of Rosie’s pregnancy.  Time will tell, and until the time the cria is born we will be playing the will she or won’t she game.


June 7, 2008

And Our Next Introduction is ……

Windrush Ashling\'s Dream

Windrush Ashling’s Dream who was born at 1:30 a.m. on May 17th.   This little girl decided to present herself in an unusual birthing position resulting in us seeing just one leg and two ears when she first started to make her appearance. 


Dream’s dam Rosie is a maiden and had been giving us signs during the afternoon that she might be in labor, so we had decided to check her through the night just in case and we were glad we decided to do so.  Often late afternoon or evening births are dystocias and Rosie’s behavior had set off our alarm bells.


I managed to free Dream’s stuck leg, but could not get her head to move back into the birth canal so it could be repositioned.  Ric offered to have a try and he managed to get Dreams nose turned around so that she could be delivered.


It was a traumatic birth for poor Rosie and she was tired and sore afterwards.  Little Dream only weighed in at 13.5 lbs, but in view of the circumstances of her birth we were glad she wasn’t any bigger.


Rosie was too sore to allow Dream to nurse initially so we milked her out as best we could and fed the colostrum that we got from Rosie to Dream.  We also started Dream on a colostrum substitute for the next 24 hours, as we knew she would not be getting enough colostrum from Rosie.


Thankfully Dream has turned out to be an easy cria to bottle feed, she accepts the bottle readily, which is not always the case with alpaca crias.  We started her off with a bottle every couple of hours around the clock and gradually increased the hours between each feeding.  Now Dream nurses from her dam and gets 2 –3 bottles from us during the course of the day and thankfully the nighttime feeds have stopped.


Dream is a sweet cria, a little mischievous and definitely aware of the fact that we provide some of her daily milk.  When she sees us outside her little head shoots up, her ears stand erect and then she runs over to see if we have her beloved bottle of milk.


Over the last few tumultuous weeks it has been quite soothing to feed Dream her bottle.  I am so familiar with the details of her little face now, the crease of her nose, the two swirls of fiber on either side of that crease, her dense top knot that seems to get thicker each day.   I enjoy watching her as she focuses her eyes on the bottle and eagerly sucks on the bottle until it is drained dry.  As hard as it is to get up in the middle of the night after only a couple of hours sleep, when you walk out into the pasture and are rewarded by a fuzzy face anxiously awaiting your arrival, it makes you forget how tired you are.


Dream is a special cria in more ways than one, she is the great grand daughter of our first alpaca Jenny, and her dam Ashling was the first female cria to be born on our farm.  We sold Ashling but sadly she passed away after giving birth to Dreams dams Rosie.  Ashling’s owners at the time named Rosie (her real name is Rose Marie) after me and asked if we would raise her, as she had to be bottle fed.  So Rosie came to stay with us until she could be weaned from the bottle and returned to her owners.


In time Rosie’s owners decided to leave the alpaca business and Rosie is now ours.  So now little Dream has joined us too.  She is a pretty medium fawn color and the daughter of our herd sire Tobiano.  When we came to name Dream we wanted her name to be special. 


Following Ashling’s death I had made her owners a photo presentation of Ashling set to the music “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker.  The day after Dream was born I had to make a run to the grocery store to get milk and yogurt in preparation for feeding her.  As I drove home what should come on the radio but Joe Cocker’s song “You Are So Beautiful” and I knew at that moment what Dream’s name should be.


If you are unfamiliar with Joe Cocker’s song you can listen to it at http://www.last.fm/music/Joe+Cocker/_/You+Are+So+Beautiful


The song is a short one, only lasting a couple of minutes.  When you listen pay particular attention to the lyrics of the second verse and you will understand why Windrush Ashling’s Dream received her name.




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