A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 1, 2009

Beautiful Day, Beautiful Cria

Willow's New Cria

Willow's New Cria

Monday was a beautiful day, temperatures were in the 80’s, a light breeze was drifting across the pasture and everywhere was damp from rain we had received the night before.  It was New Mexico at its best with bright blue skies, brilliant sunshine and some fluffy white clouds in the sky.

Willow must have thought it a beautiful day too for that morning she went into labor.  I first noticed her looking restless at 9:40 a.m., she was sitting on one hip her legs kicked out to one side.  After a while she would get up and walk around then cush again rolling onto one hip or the other.  From there she started pushing a little harder and making those frequent visits to the poop pile that are often a sign of labor in alpacas.  Then her contractions became very strong and she cushed again, rolling onto one hip and pushing hard.

I could see progress was being made and so left Willow alone (that’s the hardest part of watching an alpaca in labor sometimes!).  Soon I could see a little white foot and nose emerging from Willow, followed shortly by another little white foot.  When I saw Willow was between contractions I moved her to a pen so that she could finish labor in peace without being bothered by the rest of the herd.

At 10:40 the cria was born, a shiny bright, snowy white female cria – beautiful!  The cria looked quite small, but when I picked her up she felt heavier than she looked, perhaps an indication of some good heavy bone.  Willow is not a large alpaca and Treasure the cria’s sire is an average sized alpaca and so I expected that the offspring from that pairing would not be huge.  Later when I weighed Willow’s cria she was 14.7 lbs. a nice weight for a smaller dam to deliver.

A Close Up of Willow's Cria's Fleece - if only you could feel it!

A Close Up of Willow's Cria's Fleece - if only you could feel it!

There is no doubting that Treasure is the sire of this little girl for she has his outstanding brightness to her fleece and that silky, slightly waxy handle.  The pairing of Willow and Treasure was a good one and I think this little girl will be one to watch out for.

The usual routine of the day went out of the window as I spent time watching Willow and her cria, making sure Willow passed her afterbirth without problem and that the cria found Willow’s udder and had a good nurse.   Later I let the pair out in a pen so that the cria could stretch her legs and have a trot around, and as she discovered that her legs would carry her well and fast, so Willow ran beside her not wanting to let her new baby out of her sight.

Days like those are just one of the advantages of being an alpaca rancher.  For those first precious hours of that cria’s life you can put the routine to one side and just enjoy the miracle of a new life.  I think you have to agree it’s not a bad way to earn a living is it!

Rosemary

October 23, 2007

Back Home and Look Whose Here!

Chai’s New Cria     Chai’s New Cria Face On 

I made it back safely from Louisiana, my flights were good and I had no trouble making it to the airport on time.  On the drive back to the airport I was again amazed by the Causeway that runs 26 miles or so over water, it was interesting to see the skyline of New Orleans emerge as I drew closer and I couldn’t help but think what it must have been like on the Causeway during Hurricane Katrina. 

I arrived home at 1 a.m. on Monday morning, Ric picked me up at the airport and was ready to tell me how awful the weather had been (high winds, dust and cold) and that Chai still had not had her cria.  Later that morning though it was a different story as we realized during morning chores that Chai was in labor and a cria was on its way.

Chai had a very typical alpaca labor, the first sign I noticed that she was sitting in a different place than she usually sits first thing in the morning and that she had her weight on one hip.  A little later Chai took herself away from the herd and lay down for a while with her neck stretched out and then rolled.  Shortly after that she started visiting the poop piles and straining but no poop was forthcoming.  When Chai moved away from the poop piles and lay down again I approached her gently and lifted her tail.  I could see that her vulva was puffy and that her udder was full.

By the time we fed the girls the cria’s head had not yet presented, but again Chai’s behavior was unusual as she lay down immediately after she ate.  Usually Chai mooches about the pen once she has eaten and waits for her bucket of hay to be delivered, but today instead she lay down and the next thing we knew there were two feet and a head.

The delivery continued on and within a few short minutes we had a cria on the ground, a gorgeous chocolate brown girl.

It was not exactly the best weather for a cria to be born into.  The morning was cool (about 40 degrees) and the winds were blowing at 20-25 mph with 30 mph gusts – brrr!  I had gone into the house to get towels and my cria kit once the cria’s feet and head had presented, while Ric stayed with Chai.  I grabbed more towels than usual and the hair dryer as I knew with the cold wind blowing we were going to need to work fast to prevent the cria from getting chilled.

While I worked on drying the cria, Ric moved some of our portable pens into the small shelter and set up an area that would be more sheltered and warm for Chai and her cria.  He also set up a heat lamp and an extension cord for my hair dryer. 

It took a little while to get the cria dry and warmed up but with some vigorous towel drying and then the use of the hair dryer we were able to get there.  Once the cria was warm she started trying to stand and within a short while was nursing from Chai.

As the day was so cold once we had the cria completely dry we put a cria coat on her.  It’s important to make sure a cria is completely dry before putting on the cria coat or else you stand the risk of trapping in moisture that can make the cria colder rather than warmer.

We were able to let Chai and her cria out for the afternoon to allow the cria to run around and stretch her legs.  We feel it’s important for crias to be out running around as it helps keep their body temperature up and stimulates their newly born bodies to function properly.

So our last cria of the fall is born and Chai did a great job giving birth and producing yet another pretty daughter, that’s three for Chai so far.  Later today our vet will be out to draw blood from the cria for her IgG test and BVD PCR test, we have also asked him to run some routine bloodwork on Chai who had shown some joint soreness in the latter part of her pregnancy.  Chai has seemed quite a lot better since delivering her cria, but we don’t want to make any assumptions about her health and want to make sure everything is working as it should be. We’ve had a great start to the week, now if we can just get the temperature to go back up and a soft rain to fall we will be really happy.  We can’t be too greedy though as life has just presented us with a beautiful chocolate brown cria, so for now we will take that little gift and enjoy her as she develops and grows.

Rosemary

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