A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 24, 2009

And His Name Shall Be…

TeQueely's Cria - Still to be named

TeQueely's Cria - Still to be named

Well we can’t decide!

I really feel it is harder to name male crias than female crias.  While both need good names (and ones that the announcer at a show is not going to butcher!) a male cria could go on to be a herdsire and if so needs a name that befits his role in life.

I guess you could name your herd sire “Fluffy” or “Cutie Pie”, while those names will stick in people’s memories it could be for the wrong reason and do those names really convey the strengths of a herdsire?

We keep a collection of names on hand, some we have discovered ourselves others are given to us by family and friends, but sometimes those names don’t suit the cria and so then it is back to the drawing board.

Close to that drawing board is where we find ourselves with trying to name TeQueely’s cria.   Our TeQueely is very special to us and so perhaps that makes naming her offspring a little more difficult.  TeQueely’s cria was born on a very hot day and so we want to incorporate something to do with heat into his name.  The cria’s sire is Snowmass Andean Night owned by our friends Bob and Regina Dart.

We have been trying hard to come up with names and have finally come up with a few, but just can’t decide which should be the official name for this handsome boy.  So we thought we would put it to the vote – which name do you think is the best?  Here are the choices:

Windrush Hot TeQueely Night

Windrush Night Fire

Windrush Andean Night Fire

Windrush Light My Fire

So help us out here readers.  Tell us which name you like the best and then we can finally give TeQueely’s cria an official name!

Rosemary

July 13, 2009

Talk About Picking The Moment

TeQueely's Cria - new born, wet and wobbly

TeQueely's Cria - new born, wet and wobbly

When we first started raising alpacas another more experienced alpaca breeder told us when it comes to the delivery date of crias the dam chooses the week and the unborn cria picks the day.  If that’s the case our latest cria must like his mother to work hard for he (yes another boy!) decided to be born at 2:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon when the temperature was 104.

We had noticed that TeQueely had seemed a little uncomfortable during the day and was visiting the poop piles frequently.  Seeing that activity we expected a cria shortly after the end of morning chores, but by then TeQueely had settled down, eating hay and chewing her cud in the shade of the shelter while sitting in front of the fan.  This was not the first time TeQueely had behaved like this during the late stage of her pregnancy and on previous occasions TeQueely had settled down and the cria had not been born.  During the course of the day TeQueely went through having moments of discomfort and then settling down again.  TeQueely never seemed to be in distress but I was starting to get a little concerned that perhaps something was not right.

Fortunately my fears were unfounded.  I had a vet appointment for Blue the puppy to receive her second shots at 2:45 p.m. but when I went out to check on TeQueely one last time before I left for the vets I found her actively pushing.  She was definitely in labor this time.

A quick call to the vets rescheduled Blues appointment, and by now I could see a little nose starting to emerge.  I decided that the sundress I was wearing was probably not the most appropriate attire and so made a quick dash to the house to get changed, grab my cria kit and some blankets and towels.   I am so glad we chose to have our female pasture right in front of our house so that I can get to my supplies while still keeping an eye on what is going on in the pasture.

By the time I got back to TeQueely the cria’s head, neck and front legs were delivered and I could see he was a big cria.  TeQueely was holding up remarkably well considering how hot it was but I knew she must be tired and she still had to deliver the crias shoulders, which were not exactly small.  So as TeQueely had the next contraction I assisted her in getting the crias shoulders out.  Those shoulders took a little manipulating but with another good contraction out they came followed a short while later by the crias body and hind legs (by now I was covered in birthing fluids and was really glad I wasn’t still wearing a dress!).

TeQueely is a great mother and was soon sniffing and clucking at her cria, while her cria, who by rights should have been tired, after such a delivery was full of life kicking and rolling around on the blanket I had placed him on.  I wonder how many human mother and babies would have been that lively after a delivery in 104 degree heat?

Just looking at TeQueely’s cria you can tell he is no lightweight.  His sire is Snowmass Andean Night owned by our friends Bob and Regina Dart, I have seen several Night crias and they were nowhere near as big as TeQueely’s cria, I guess TeQueely must have been feeding her cria well during pregnancy.    Later when we weighed TeQueely’s cria he was 20.6 lbs, that combined with the 9 lb placenta TeQueely delivered a few hours later meant TeQueely had lost close to 30 lbs in an afternoon!

TeQueely's cria, dried off and taking a well deserved rest

TeQueely's cria, dried off and taking a well deserved rest

I still cannot believe that TeQueely’s cria would decide to be born on such a hot day, but thankfully all went well and I accredit that partly to TeQueely’s general good health that gave her the stamina to go through the birthing process.  Usually we plan for our crias not to be born during such extreme temperatures, but some early very hot weather thwarted our plans this year.  TeQueely is the last of the spring pregnancies though so now we can take a break from cria watch until the early fall.

TeQueely’s boy is a beautiful cria; he has a shiny, soft bright fleece that has beautiful crimp when parted.  At the moment his tendons are a little lax, a side effect of being such a large cria cramped up in a small space, but with some exercise, sunshine and supplemental vitamins A, D and E those tendons will soon adjust and I think we will have a handsome future herdsire on our hands.

Well done TeQueely!

Rosemary

July 8, 2009

Did She or Didn’t She?

I realize that I did not follow up on my post Back to the Waiting Game   where I thought our TeQueely was in the early stages of labor.

Well …… still no cria!  We were convinced that we would have a cria last Saturday following TeQueely’s uncomfortable behavior, but no cria arrived and TeQueely has been happily eating and chewing her cud since.  We can see TeQueely’s cria move and TeQueely is huge but there are now no signs of impending labor.

So I guess TeQueely’s cria was just doing some serious rearranging the other day, or for some reason changed its mind about coming out into the world.  We have had some stormy weather in the area with areas of high and low pressure appearing quite rapidly, sometimes those pressure changes will trigger labor, but not in the case of TeQueely’s cria.  That little one has decided that it is quite happy sheltered from the weather while lounging in TeQueely!

Last year TeQueely was a couple of weeks overdue in delivering her cria and that may be the case again this year.  With our temperatures really starting to heat up and highs expected in the 100’s for the rest of the week I am hoping that TeQueely does not go too long past her due date.

Still there is nothing we can do but sit and wait for an uneventful labor that results in a beautiful healthy cria.  I’ll keep you posted!

Rosemary

March 10, 2009

Identifying Ticks

 

Leigh from Hill Country Alpacas  posted a comment to my March 8, 2009 blog entry “Warm Weather Wigglers” asking which type of ticks we have.

 

Good question Leigh!  We are fortunate that we do not have deer ticks in this part of the country.  Deer ticks are the type of tick that can carry Lyme Disease, a dangerous disease to both humans and alpacas.

 

The types of ticks we have in our area are the American Dog Tick and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.   

 

I have been fortunate enough (although perhaps it is a matter of opinion whether this is fortunate or not!) to have our small animal vet show me ticks in their various stages from egg to nymph to adult.   The eggs and nymphs of the American Dog Tick are tiny, adult Deer ticks themselves are tiny so imagine how small their eggs and nymphs are.  If the ticks are not gorged with blood they are small and brown, once engorged though they become large and have more of a grey color to them. 

 

With any tick related illness it is important to find the offending tick and remove it, which if you are dealing with deer ticks is quite a challenging task.  The tick paralysis that TeQueely contracted was most likely caused by a Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.  The tick paralysis occurs from contact with the saliva of the female tick.  Typically that type of paralysis starts at the front end of the alpaca and progresses backwards.  For TeQueely her front end was definitely affected the most and she still drags her front right leg a little as a result.  When TeQueely was at her worst her eardrums were also severely swollen, to this day I still cannot believe that they didn’t rupture and can only imagine the pain she must have been in.

 

There are many species of tick in the United States, if you are interested in trying to identify the type of ticks you are encountering there are a couple of websites that have excellent pictures of ticks.  One is courtesy of the Department of Entomology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln

http://entomology.unl.edu/images/ticks/

 

The other website is www.tickinfo.com , that not only has pictures of ticks but has some fascinating information on its home page as to the ability of ticks to locate their hosts or prey.

 

Hope the pictures and information don’t make your skin crawl!

 

Rosemary

March 8, 2009

Warm Weather Wigglers

 

Our winter has been very mild and dry and our spring looks as if it is going to be warm, dry and windy (as always!).  Already our temperatures have hit the 80 degree mark a couple of times, the fruit trees are starting to blossom and everything living is getting signals that spring is here.  It is still possible for us to have a downward swing in temperature; a late frost is not unheard of here and unfortunately will kill the fruit tree blossoms reducing our chances of any peaches or apricots from our trees.

 

Along with the warm weather the insect population is starting to become more visible.  We saw a yellow jacket (large wasp type insect) the other day, crickets are starting to appear and the dreaded ticks have also started to make an appearance.

 

Unfortunately our sandy soil and warm temperatures make an ideal environment for ticks, and even worse alpaca ears are an ideal place for ticks to take up residence.  The warm, sheltered environment of the alpaca ear is just the type of place a tick likes to live in and ticks will happily feed not only on the alpacas blood but also on any debris generated by the alpacas ears.

 

We had a bad run in with ticks in the past, our girl TeQueely had a terrible fight with tick paralysis (See entry December6, 2007)  and my battle to save her has made me an avid campaigner for tick prevention.

 

Many alpaca breeders do not realize that their alpacas may have ticks in their ears.  Often there are very few signs of the ticks, sometimes you will see the alpacas shaking their heads, sometimes an alpaca will hold an ear back, occasionally there may be some black debris found in the alpacas ear, but often the signs are few to none.

 

Having spent time exploring an alpaca ears with an otoscope (don’t try this unless you have had some education from your veterinarian as you can easily damage the alpacas ear drum) I am amazed at how many hiding places in an alpaca ear there are.  With an otoscope and alligator forceps I can usually locate any offending ticks and remove them, but ticks are also capable of hiding deep in the ear canal past where the otoscope can reach.

 

So what is to be done about these tiny but potent creatures?  Well as often is the case an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and there are few things you can do to keep the tick population down.

 

Some alpaca breeders keep guinea fowl or chickens with their alpacas, as the birds will eat any bugs they find.  This can be a good option; the birds will pick up bugs not only from poop piles but also from roll spots and other areas around the pasture.  If you are keeping birds with your alpacas make sure you get them from a farm that is very conscious of the health of their birds, the last thing you want to do is bring viruses or nasty bacteria onto your farm.  Also try and feed unmedicated feed, as the medicines in chicken feeds are fatal to alpacas.  If unmedicated feed is not available then make sure it is kept securely away from the alpacas.

 

Putting diatomaceous earth on roll spots and poop piles may also help keep down the tick population.  Make sure that you use food grade diatomaceous earth as it is safe to be used around livestock, the commercial and pool grades of diatomaceous earth are not suitable for use around livestock.

 

I have heard of some breeders feeding garlic to their alpacas to help reduce ticks and other parasites.  I have not tried that yet and am still researching the pros and cons of using garlic on alpacas.

 

Finally treating the alpaca’s ears during tick season will kill the ticks and depending on what you use may also kill the tick eggs.  We prefer to use Adams Fly Spray and Repellent for horses, it kills both the ticks and the tick eggs and we have found it to be very effective.  We shake the bottle well (the solution tends to separate when it is sitting for a while), pour some into a container and then draw up 2 cc in a syringe.  We administer 2 cc per ear on the adult alpacas, 1.5 cc per ear for the weanlings and 0.5 cc per ear on the crias.  We put the syringe in the ear, depress the plunge and then massage the ear before letting go.  Make sure you stand well back once you let go as the alpacas will shake their heads and some of the solution will fly out of their ears and you don’t want to get it in your eyes.

 

Over the last year or so the Adams Fly Spray and Repellent for Horses has become a little difficult to find.  If Adams is not available I have heard of Catron IV being used, but as it comes out in a foam I find it harder to ensure the correct dosage

 

Once tick season arrives we treat our alpacas ears about every thirty days.  I don’t usually go for routine worming or parasite prevention as I feel that overuse of certain products has resulted in some parasites becoming resistant to the products, but there are some circumstances when you have little choice but to treat on a regular basis. 

 

Having had one experience of tick paralysis in the herd I don’t want to have another, so for now we will continue treating the alpacas on a regular basis and in time we may find other solutions that are just as effective in preventing ticks – and who knows we may even invest in some chickens for our own herd.  Tick prevention and farm fresh eggs – sounds like a good option to me!

Rosemary

January 1, 2009

It’s 2009 – Happy New Year

Pride, Dream and Atlas Enjoy A Sunset

Pride, Dream and Atlas Enjoy A Sunset

 

The New Year has arrived and as always we wonder what it will bring as it unfolds.  As 2008 began we were not to know that for us it would be a year of losses, the loss of our dear Sandie dog was followed by the loss of our young cat Snuggler, two crias Legs and Beeper were also to leave us and then in November the biggest loss of all, that of my father.

 

But thankfully there were joys too in 2008.   Many beautiful crias arrived at the farm, new friends were made, old friends were revisited and a beautiful grand daughter, Aida, entered our lives.  A little girl who is quick to smile and happily explores all of the new experiences life brings her.

 

I know for many 2008 was a tough year, reminding us to be grateful for what we have, a roof over our heads, food on the table, good friends and family.   Despite the bleak predictions of the media I hope that those who struggled so much in 2008 have some relief and assistance in the New Year.

 

In 2009 some lucky people will join us in owning and raising alpacas.  On this New Year’s Day they may be excitedly planning the purchase of their first alpacas, thinking about the structure of their alpaca business, anticipating their first steps into the alpaca world.  How exciting for us to think that we might contribute to their success, whether it be selling them their first alpacas or offering encouragement and guidance along the way.

 

As the New Year dawns I know that the alpacas will be in the pasture, carrying on oblivious to the significance of the date.  Their steady presence brings a perspective to life.    They appreciate each moment for what it is, and don’t concern themselves with the many “what if’s” that humans have.    As I am treated to a barrage of cria kisses from Nochi, a lingering look from Dream, a dance of expectance from TeQueely and the precious gift of the alpacas trust as I work among them, I am aware of how fortunate I am to have these beautiful creatures in my life.

 

For all who read this I wish a Happy and Prosperous 2009, remember that happiness is often found in the most basic areas of life and that prosperity is so much more than the amount of money in you have in your bank account.

 

Rosemary

September 9, 2008

Well If You Will Make Him Wear A Dress

Kanika wearing her coat - there was much less fuss with the girls than the boys

Kanika wearing her coat - there was much less fuss with the girls than the boys

 

 

 

 

Having recovered from our Open Farm Day we decided on Sunday that it was time to start putting fleece covers on the alpacas.   We also need to replenish our supplies of covers so by using the ones we already have it will be easier for us to assess what size covers we need to purchase.

 

We started with the crias first.  Sometimes it can be a bit unnerving for the crias the first time we put a fleece cover on them, we do it as quickly and as gently as possible.  We also do it in a catch pen so that if one of them really does not take to the cover we can catch him or her easily and calm them down or if necessary remove the cover.  There is nothing worse than trying to catch a panicked cria who is trying to run away from a fleece cover in an open pasture.

 

The crias all handled their coats well, no-one was panicked and they all seemed more interested in eating hay.  The next step was to let the crias our and see how the dams responded to their crias wearing coats.  All of the dams sniffed their crias, checked out the coats and then allowed the crias to nurse, except TeQueely who would not let Pride anywhere close to her.    We caught Pride and removed his coat and TeQueely allowed him to nurse.  We will try putting a coat on Pride again in a few days, but this time we will put him and TeQueely in a pen to eat together for a while and then put the coat on Pride while TeQueely is present.  Hopefully if she sees the cover being put on her cria she will be more accepting of it.  If TeQueely still will not accept the cover at that time we will leave it off Pride until he is weaned.  It is far more important that he can nurse than it is to get a cover on him.

 

The weanlings took the process of putting their covers on in their stride, and barely missed a beat in their daily activities.

 

We then moved onto the adult boys, putting a coat on Cloudy first.  Well that was just too much for those boys, they instantly started jumping on Cloudy and chasing him.  To break up the “teasing session” we then caught Treasure and put a coat on him.  That meant that there were now two boys with coats on in that pen.

 

Our past experience has taught us that some of the alpacas find the coats fascinating.  They will grab at them, nibble on them and often chase the alpaca wearing a coat until they themselves are caught and their coat is put on.  We have learnt over the years never to put a coat on only one alpaca in a pen (especially in a pen of adult males) and if any chasing should start then catch the leader of the chase and put a coat on him next.  That soon diffuses the situation.

 

As we watched the boys checking out Cloudy and Treasure’s coats, the rough housing seemed to go on longer than usual.  I voiced my concern to Ric that the boys were not settling down as they should and his reply was “Well what do you expect you’ve made Cloudy and Treasure wear a dress!”

 

I had never thought of it that way, I guess Ric saw it from a much different and male point of view, in his mind the coats looked like dresses and it was not a surprise to him that the uncoated boys would pick on the coated boys.

 

We continued to watch the adult males until all of the fussing had settled down.  Fortunately that happened within a few minutes and calm returned to the herd, except that now I can’t stop thinking that my boys are wearing a dress, I had never thought of the covers in that way before Ric’s comment  – men!

Rosemary

August 20, 2008

Ticks or Mosquitoes – They Both Bring Trouble

TeQueely

TeQueely

 

 I had a call

 

 

 yesterday from an alpaca breeder who was concerned that one of her female alpacas was having a problem due to ticks.  The breeder had noticed her alpaca staggering as if she were drunk, she had also noticed her carrying one ear back and on checking the alpaca’s ears had found ticks in them, which she removed. 

 

 

Ticks can cause a condition commonly referred to as tick paralysis.  It is caused by the secretions of the female tick and can cause an alpaca to die if left untreated.  Unfortunately alpaca ears are an ideal environment for ticks to thrive in, and due to the anatomy of the alpaca ear, ticks can easily get into the area of the ear that cannot be seen by the human eye or even by using an otoscope.  I know of one alpaca breeder who having realized that one of her young alpacas was having a problem took her to a veterinary teaching hospital where under anesthesia they removed 16 ticks from the alpaca’s ears. 

 

In early 2006 we experienced a bad case of tick paralysis in one of our alpacas TeQueely. TeQueely’s story is one that illustrates not only how severe and life-threatening ticks can be, but also is testimony to TeQueely’s will to live.  Fortunately TeQueely’s story had a happy ending and this year she delighted us by producing her first cria, but there are other alpaca breeders who have not the same luck as we did.

 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be vigilant for ticks in your alpacas ears, or on any other part of their body.  While not everyone has the skill or time to check every alpaca ear with an otoscope, the least they can do is treat the alpacas ears every month during active tick season and watch for signs of ticks at other times of the year.  I hate to recommend treating every month on a routine basis as over time the ticks could become resistant to the treatment you are using.  Certainly in TeQueely’s case Ivermectin, a commonly recommended treatment for parasites and ticks, was not effective at all on the ticks on our property.  We live in cattle country where I am sure Ivermectin has been used repeatedly over the years perhaps leading to a tick that is now resistant to Ivermectin.

 

We currently use Adams Fly Spray and Repellent for Horses for our ear tick treatment; another product used by some breeders is Catron IV.  With the Adams treatment we put 2 cc into each adult ear, 1.5 cc into each weanling ear and 0.5 cc (or even maybe less if the cria is tiny) into each cria’s ear.

 

The breeder who I spoke to yesterday took her alpaca into her vet who checked to make sure that all ticks that could be seen with an otoscope had been removed.  The breeder will now follow a plan of regular treatments and examinations of her alpaca’s ears to combat any new ticks that may hatch.  She has some work ahead of her, but it will be worth it if she restores her alpaca to full health.

 

While the breeder was at the vet, the vet also mentioned to her the possibility that the alpaca’s problem was West Nile Virus, a terrible virus that is carried by mosquitoes.  As a precaution the vet has taken blood samples from the alpaca for a Complete Blood Count and West Nile Virus testing.  The West Nile Virus test typically takes a few days which may be too late if the alpaca does have West Nile Virus, but the alpaca breeder is keeping a vigilant eye on her alpaca and if the alpaca seems to be deteriorating she will have the vet treat her for West Nile Virus. 

 

In New Mexico we have recently had heavy rains, over the weekend at our farm we had approximately 3.25 inches of rain in two days, which is unusual for us. The increase in water and moisture will lead to a surge in both the tick and mosquito populations and we will need to be alert to any signs of problems with the alpacas.  We have noticed that our dogs have recently been picking up ticks despite us treating them and the yard we keep them in, so we know the ticks are around.  I am sure it is only a matter of time before the mosquitoes start appearing too.

 

I will keep my fingers crossed that the breeders alpaca makes a full recovery, hopefully her actions of removing the ticks from her alpacas ears, consulting with her vet and treating the alpacas ears will prove to be fruitful.

 

Rosemary

December 6, 2007

A Face Only A Mother Could Love?

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpaca Health, Alpacas, camelids, Family, General — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:00 am

My TeQueely

I recently showed the above photo to someone who had not seen alpacas before.  I keep that photo along with two or three others on my Palm Pilot and the photos are handy to show people who are not familiar with alpacas.

On this occasion the lady viewing the photos made the comment “that’s a face only a mother could love”.  I had to chuckle because that comment in some ways had more truth attached to it than the lady knew.

The photo is of our of our girls TeQueely, granted it is not the most flattering photo, but TeQueely is one very special alpaca and to see her face looking out at me from my Palm Pilot always gives my heart a lift.

When TeQueely was seven months old she contracted a tick paralysis – we nearly lost her, but a combination of a determined owner and alpaca with an incredible will to live brought TeQueely through her illness and today she is not only alive and well but due to have a cria of her own next spring.

As a result of the tick paralysis TeQueely was unable to stand up for approximately a month.  Her story is one that I am in the process of writing and is too long to fully recount here, but for weeks and weeks my life revolved around keeping TeQueely on the road to recovery and working with her so that she was able to walk again.  It was an incredible journey that taught me so much about how if an animal has the will to live anything is possible.

Today TeQueely walks with a limp, her top line is a little too rounded due to her improper gait and her toe nails on one side are always worn down, perhaps she truly is an animal “only a mother could love”.  Ironically her own mother abandoned TeQueely when she was sick, we believe that when Queen left TeQueely’s side that night she did so having given her up for dead.

The bond between TeQueely and myself is unique and a treasure, she will never be sold from our farm and will live out her days with us.  TeQueely knows full well that she is special to me and we have our little routine after morning chores when she sees me headed back to the house.  Her head goes up, her ears standing erect and she runs over to the gate to have the special treat I always give her.  Sometimes the treat is some fresh grass, other times leaves, sometimes a small handful of pellets, TeQueely doesn’t seem too concerned as to what the treat is, but she is concerned that it is there.  Interestingly she doesn’t do the same to Ric, if he’s doing the chores in the morning she goes about her usual business exploring the pasture and joining the other girls at the hayrack.

A face only a mother could love? Perhaps so, but hidden behind that face is a character and strength of will that many would admire, and I am forever grateful that I am the one fortunate enough to be that mother who loves that face.

Rosemary

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