A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 25, 2008

Someone’s Alpacas Forgot to Read the Book!

Primadonna's Cria

Primadonna's Cria




Friday evening brought a phone call from Bob Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  One of the girls at their farm, Primadonna, had just delivered a cria at 7:30 pm.  Fortunately Friday evening was one of those beautiful still, warm New Mexico nights that we enjoy during the summer.


Typically alpacas give birth between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  It is thought that the reason for this is that in areas of South America where alpacas did much of their evolution the night time temperatures are very cool, by birthing during the warmer hours of the day the crias would dry off quicker and be up and around on their legs well before night fall.  Crias are usually up and around within an hour of birth and quite steady on their legs in a few hours after birth.


So what made Primadonna have her cria in the evening?  That’s a good question.  Interestingly we have noticed that most of the girls at the Darts farm birth in the late afternoon to early evening while ours birth in mid-morning to early afternoon.  There are only about 11 miles separating the two farms so we can hardly feel geography, weather or daylight are the factors involved.  The Darts and us have a running joke about how our girls birth during the typical alpaca hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. while their girls have obviously not read the book on alpaca behavior.  After all how can two farms so geographically close have such a difference in the behavior pattern of their birthing dams?


One factor we do wonder about is if it is the time of day that the alpacas receive their daily ration of pellets that effects their birthing time.  One of the few differences between our two farms is that we feed pellets in the morning and the Darts feed pellets in the evening.  I know some of my girls will absolutely not give birth until after the morning feed, so perhaps that is the influencing factor.


When we first came into the alpaca business we were told that deliveries that occurred late in the day were often dystocias (badly presented births), but that has not been the case with the Dart’s herd.  Neither has it been the case for two other herds that I am aware of who consistently experienced late day birthings.  One of those herds has now been sold and the alpacas are with various new owners so there is no way to check if they fed pellets later in the day.  The other herd was one I visited in England where the grazing was so lush that the owner just put out free choice minerals and did not feed her herd any form of supplemental feed. 


I think it would be interesting and fun to have an informal poll on birthing times.  So if you are an alpaca owner and are reading this blog, perhaps you can post a comment stating


  1. The time of day most of your births occur (early morning, mid morning, early afternoon etc.)
  2. When you feed your supplemental feed if in fact you feed any
  3. Your ideas as to why your births occur at that time of day


I look forward to reading your comments!




– and congratulations to Mitch and Twila Murry of Sandy Acres Alpaca Farm, Lakeview, Texas the new owners of Primadonna and her cria.  What a great start to their new alpaca venture!

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