A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 7, 2009

So Which Handsome Prince Created Sleeping Beauty?



Sleeper Enjoys Some Hay

Sleeper Enjoys Some Hay

I finally got around to sending in the last of the fall cria ARI registrations the other day. With the online registration complete, I mailed in the crias blood cards for DNA analysis for parentage verification. We often wait before sending in our ARI registrations for a few reasons. First we want to make sure that the cria makes it through the first few months of life. You hate to think of losing a cria but if does happen then it is usually within the first 30 days of its life. Some may argue that it would be useful to have the cria registered for the national herd records, but at the end of the day economics comes into play and to me it does not make sense to pay to register a cria who is no more.


Another reason we hold off registering our crias is that sometimes they change color as they mature. We have had several crias who start off beige at birth and change to white by the time they are six months old. Our Kanika looked to be dark brown or bay black when she was born but by the time we came to shear her she was the most beautiful true black. A client of ours delivered his dam to us for breeding with her white cria by her side. When he came to pick his dam and cria up he was surprised to see that the cria’s fleece was no longer white. The fleece looked white from the outside but when you parted the fleece the fiber inside was a definite light fawn (and no it was not staining from our red dirt!). Crias definitely can change color.


So often our crias are five or six months old before we register them, sometimes even older.


The registrations I sent off the other day were for Chandra and Sleeping Beauty (whom we call Sleeper) and they are both definitely older than six months. Interestingly in my herd book I show that Chandra and Sleeper could both have been conceived on the same day November 11,2007. I say “could” have been conceived on the same day because when it came to their birth dates there was quite a bit of difference. Sleeper was born on September 27, 2008 and Chandra was born on October 17, 2008. Chandra’s birth date is in the range of her being a full term cria. Sleeper would have been a little premature (and that was the note I had in my herd book).


Going back a little further in the herd book I could see that Sleeper’s Dam Keeva bred about three weeks prior to the November 11 breeding, so maybe that was the breeding that resulted in Sleeper, if so that would mean that Sleeper’s sire is our herdsire Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure rather than our herdsire Tobiano – hmmm…


My records show that we had tried breeding Keeva to Treasure but the breeding didn’t seem to take. As Treasure was in his first breeding season we didn’t like to force the issue and so decided to put Keeva with Tobiano instead at the next breeding attempt. Tobiano and Keeva bred without a problem and from then on Keeva was not receptive to any male alpacas, so we assumed that Keeva was carrying a Tobiano cria.


Thankfully when you go to register a cria you have the option to list two potential sires, and so that is what I did the other day. I personally feel that Sleeper is Tobiano’s cria, she has certain traits that I have seen before in his offspring and Keeva as an experienced dam is not likely to cush for a male when she is already pregnant.


Now we will wait and see what Sleeper’s DNA blood card reveals – is she a Treasure cria or a Tobiano cria? Time and DNA will tell.



September 27, 2008

Just in Time For National Alpaca Farm Days

Cinnamon's New Cria

Cinnamon's new cria


Our first cria of the fall arrived yesterday at 12:35 pm.  Cinnamon delivered a healthy, vigorous beige boy who weighed in at 15.3 lbs.  Cinnamon’s cria is out of our dark male herdsire Tobiano, whose crias have all been in the 13 –15 lbs range so far.  They tend to be study little crias with broad chests and a very square frame and this little boy is no exception.


We had thought that the breeding of Cinnamon and Tobiano would produce color, but alpacas love to outwit us humans and Cinnamon and Tobiano combined gave us a beige cria.  Alpaca color genetics are so much fun!


Cinnamon’s little boy is a real character.  He tried to kick me when I dipped his naval, kicked out at Cinnamon when she sniffed him, was scratching his head with his hind leg before he could cush and boy can he talk!  He really is a chatty little fellow.  He was up on his feet looking good about an hour after being born, not wobbly at all, but steady and skipping around.  He also was hungry and took no time in finding Cinnamon’s udder, which had plenty of creamy colostrum.  I think the recent addition of a little alfalfa to our girls diet gave Cinnamon some help in the milk department, although Cinnamon’s dam Chai is an excellent milk producer and milk production does seem to be a heritable factor in alpacas as it is in other livestock species.


Cinnamon had a textbook delivery with no assistance required, she even took a break to chew her cud after the cria’s head and legs were delivered!  As I dried off Cinnamon’s cria, she stretched her neck out to me, looked me right in the eye and then planted a gentle alpaca kiss right on my forehead, what a sweet girl.


Although she is a maiden Cinnamon is proving to be an excellent mother, she is very attentive to her cria, humming to him and sniffing him and she stands stock still while he nurses from her.


So our visitors to our farm will have a special treat today as they see our new young man prancing round, checking out how fast his legs will carry him!  For this boy we are going to need a name that is full of spirit, vigor and character just like him!



June 28, 2008

And Finally…….

Zianna    Zianna Close Up

Our last cria to be introduced is Windrush Zianna, born on June 4th to our dam Ivanna and our herdsire Zin.  Zin has had a good season on our farm having sired Atlas, Rebecca’s cria, Pride, Anacia and Zianna. While Tobiano gave us his cria contribution in the form of Dream, Serenity and Stormy.


Zianna’s arrival coincided with the passing of our little cria Legs (see post June 6th, Witnessing Life’s Circle) and she was a reminder of the brighter side of life.  A beautiful light fawn color with almost an apricot tinge to it, liquid brown eyes and the thickest of eyelashes Zianna is quite a character.  She loves to check out what you are doing and is quite a vocal cria, a trait that comes from her dam Ivanna.


Ivanna handled Zianna’s birth with ease; she is an experienced dam and a great milk producer.  She prefers to have people keep their distance a little while she is birthing, but interestingly she allowed one of her previous crias, Cariad (who is here for breeding) to be with her as she delivered Zianna.  I did eventually remove Cariad from the immediate area where Ivanna was as Cariad was being very curious about the half delivered cria and was starting to get in the way.  Ivanna delivered Zianna in her favorite place, right in front of the fan in the small shelter and I used some portable panels to prevent the other alpacas from intruding into the area as she finished delivering.  Cariad was still able to see her dam and was very curious about her new sister once she was delivered.


Zianna was the cria that Theresa decided to “steal” a few days after she was born during Theresa’s hormonal confusion!  Zianna seemed quite happy to be with Theresa and would try and nurse off Theresa when Theresa encouraged her too, but Theresa did not have milk and so eventually Zianna would return to Ivanna for nursing, much to Theresa’s dismay.  We eventually had to separate Theresa and Zianna, as we really did not want Zianna bonding to the wrong dam.


Zianna is already over 30 lbs, testimony to Ivanna’s good milk production record, and is one of the first to greet you when you go out in the pasture.


Of course Zianna was not the last to be born, Pride was born on June 9 and Desert Sandstorm (or Stormy as we call him) was born on June 13, but in all of the chaos at the time of Zianna’s birth I did not get a chance to introduce her.


We now have one cria left to be delivered this summer, our maiden dam Cinnamon is due in July and we are looking forward to seeing what she produces.  We see her cria kicking frequently and day by day Cinnamon gets a little larger but is not huge.  So are we going to get a little female cria or a little male cria, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!



June 19, 2008

And Next Came …..

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Fiber, Alpacas, camelids, Cria Care, Crias, General — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 6:33 am

Windrush Silken Serenity

Windrush Silken Serenity and what a pretty girl she is.


Serenity was born to our white girl Alpenglow’s Sandia Snow and is out of our dark brown herdsire Tobiano.  Snow has a small patch of fawn fiber on her left hind foot, her sire was dark fawn and her dam was light fawn with a lot of color in her lineage and so we hoped by breeding Snow to Tobiano we would get color and we did.  Serenity is the most beautiful rich chocolate brown (the picture here does not do her color justice and her ears have now straightened up having been a little squashed during birth).


Snow delivered Serenity at 3:30 pm on May 30th.  Snow has always been a quiet alpaca and the only clue she gave me that she was close to giving birth was at lunchtime when I noticed her udder was filled with milk.  I check the udders of all of my late term pregnancy girls every morning and I knew that in the morning Snow’s udder had been quite small and that the change in it’s appearance was probably significant.


As I gave Dream her afternoon bottle I looked across the pasture and there in the shade of the elm tree was Snow quite obviously in labor.  I could see that she had a little more pushing to do before the cria’s head and feet emerged and so let Dream finish her bottle and then went in to get my cria kit, blanket and towels. 


By the time I came out Snow had made some progress and I could see a little dark nose emerging.  Snow delivered Serenity without any assistance and did not make a sound during delivery, not a hum, not a grunt, not a groan.  The delivery was one of the most serene I have every seen hence Serenity’s name. 


Initially after delivering Serenity, Snow was a little perplexed about what had just happened, she didn’t seem to put two and two together and realize that Serenity was her cria.  Serenity is Snow’s first cria and sometimes maiden alpacas take a little while to realize their new responsibility.  I brought Snow over to Serenity and encouraged her to sniff her top start the bonding process.  Once Snow had delivered the placenta I put the two in a catch pen for a few hours to allow them to bond.


Snow has proved to be an excellent dam who is attentive to her cria and who produces lots of milk.  Serenity is a little live wire, tearing up the pasture with the other crias and showing that lovely curiosity about her surroundings that crias have.


Serenity’s fleece is very interesting.  It has an incredibly silky feel to it, is very fine and very bright.  I can see some crimp forming close to the skin and I am curious as to how her fleece will develop as she grows up.  Tobiano has thrown cria before with silky style fleece and I suspect that is what we are seeing in Serenity.  Time will tell, but we feel Serenity has some very special qualities to her fleece and we are already excited at the prospect of being able to show her.



October 5, 2007

Getting Feedback from the Girls

TobianoHaving settled back in at home it’s time to get back in the groove of things here at the farm.  As the fall temperatures start to drop we are preparing for our fall breeding schedule.

We have several females that we bred in the spring and we need to establish if they are definitely pregnant or not.  We also have some girls who will need breeding this fall so we need to test their reaction to a male.

Tobiano was the lucky boy who got to try out the females this time.  He is one of our more aggressive breeding males and usually provokes a response from the female.

We kept the females we wished to behavior test penned up after morning feeding and then brought Tobiano over to a spare pen in the girls pasture.  As we walked Tobiano into the pasture Theresa came over with her tail held high and clucking at Tobiano.  We have seen Theresa exhibit this behavior before when she is pregnant, but she also exhibits similar behavior sometimes when she is not pregnant.  As Theresa seemed determined to get Tobiano’s attention we allowed her to go into an adjoining pen to Tobiano’s, we then caught her and put her in the same pen as Tobiano, within seconds of entering the pen Theresa was spitting hard so we let her back out in the pasture.  Theresa must have felt that she needed to be even more emphatic about her not wanting to see any male alpacas as she stayed a few feet away from Tobiano’s pen spitting and posturing the whole time we were testing the rest of the girls.  I tried telling her that we had got the message that she is pregnant, but she still insisted on hanging around to send some more spit in Tobiano’s direction. 

Fortunately Tobiano was not put off from his task by Theresa’s behavior (some breeding males, especially the younger ones can be put off by behavior such as Theresa’s) and he successfully behavior tested the remaining females.  Willow, TeQueely, Ivanna, Anya and Rebecca were all pretty admanent that they are pregnant and have no further use for a male alpaca at this time. 

Cinnamon too spit hard at Tobiano but we are not entirely convinced that she is pregnant.  We had thought Cinnamon was pregnant in June but then she cushed (albeit reluctantly) in July so we had thought she was no longer pregnant.  As a maiden alpaca it could be that she was confused in July when she cushed and was pregnant at that time, so to make certain that we establish Cinnamons status we will book her in to see the vet for either a progesterone test or an ultrasound.  Fingers crossed our pretty Cinnamon is pregnant. 

We did have one girl cush for Tobiano but he was not allowed to breed her.  Keeva cushed within minutes of entering the pen.  I was not entirely surprised to see Keeva cush, she had a terrible dystocia (bad birthing presentation) last year and had some scar tissue as a result of the vets efforts to birth the cria.  Keeva did breed in the spring but apparently the breeding did not take, or she has aborted her cria in the early stages of pregnancy.  My suspicion with Keeva is that she has a uterine infection, we did flush her following her dystocia but feel our next step with Keeva at this time is to talk to our vet about her and perhaps also flush her again.

So Tobiano had a somewhat frustrating morning, but he did a good job for us and was pretty good about backing off the females once we were satisfied that they were pregnant.    Now having established the status of the girls we can plan to actually breed those females that are open (not pregnant) in the next week or two.


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