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!


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.



June 25, 2009

Between Puppies and Crias

Rosie's New Cria

Rosie's New Cria

Life has been more hectic than usual on the farm.  Our puppy Blue keeps us busy with her need for play and exercise as well as constant vigilance to work on her housetraining.  She’s a smart girl but we do have to remember she is only 9 weeks old.  The alpaca girls have also been keeping us busy as the crias continue to arrive.

Following Chai’s surprise cria the next dam to present us with a cria was Rosie.   Rosie was due to have her cria at the end of May/early June but instead decided to hold on to that cria for a little longer and did not deliver until June 17.  Once the cria was born we knew why she had waited those extra days, she needed time to make the extra bit to make that cria a boy!  Yes, another boy and certainly this seems to be a boy year.

Rosie’s boy is out of our herdsire Treasure so we were not surprised that this little guy was white.  With both Rosie and Treasure being white the chances of a white cria were high.  Rosie’s cria has that same broad Treasure forehead that Queen’s cria has, and as Rosie herself has a broad forehead she probably contributed some in that department too.  It did mean that Ric and I winced a little as Rosie pushed out her cria, delivering that head took an extra hard push – but Rosie had a normal and unassisted delivery, which was a good thing.

While we own Rosie and Treasure this particular cria does not belong to us as we had leased out Rosie to our friend’s Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  Regina loves Rosie’s coverage and stylish head and knew I was not prepared to sell her and so we made an agreement that we would lease Rosie to the Darts meaning that her cria was theirs once it was born.  Of course the cria will stay at our farm with Rosie until he is weaned, but it was a great arrangement where we could allow someone to access Rosie’s outstanding genetics without losing her from our herd.

Rosie’s cria is a handsome young man, with nice sturdy bone, a compact body and a stylish head, but what you can’t see from the picture is the crimpy, brilliant white shiny fleece that lies under those cria tips.  Bob and Regina are going to have fun showing this little boy when he comes of age, even in the competitive white male alpaca classes.

Now all we need is a name for the little guy – but I know Regina is busy working on that!


June 11, 2009

Someone Was Paying Attention!

What a handsome boy!

What a handsome boy!

Well its good to know that someone listens to me once in a while!  Following my previous blog entry about our overdue pregnant girls Queen’s cria decided to be the first to make an appearance.

Queen had been particularly large during her pregnancy, so we were not surprised when she delivered a 20.2 lb. male cria at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.  No wonder Queen had cria limbs poking so prominently during her pregnancy, this is one sturdy boy and he also had an 8.2 lb. placenta to go with him.  I am sure Queen feels a little better for lightening her load!

The delivery of Queen’s cria went smoothly, we noticed her separated from the herd when we first got up on Tuesday morning and as the morning progressed she spent her time cushed and getting up and down to visit the poop pile.  Queen did come in to eat when we fed the girls but she soon cushed again, so as soon as she had finished eating we let her out of her pen.  A short while later the cria’s head presented and a couple of contractions later two feet popped out.  Queen did take a little rest before pushing the cria’s shoulders out and then one last contraction delivered the rest of the cria.

We had been curious about what color Queen’s cria would be, he is the first cria from our herdsire Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure who is white but whose sire 4Peruvian Altiplano Gold threw a lot of colored cria.  Queen is black but does have a black and white udder and a small white spot on her hip.   Queen has never had a cria that is lighter than medium fawn no matter what color she has been bred to and she didn’t let us down this time.  Queen’s boy is a medium brown and fades to a light fawn on his belly.  He has a broad dorsal stripe and has black on his muzzle and ears.  His legs also are either black or dark brown blending to a medium brown as they reach his blanket area.  What a handsome boy he is!

Queen's cria trying out his legs

Queen's cria trying out his legs


When Queen’s cria was first delivered he was wet and his fleece was long but not yet curling, as soon as that fleece dried though what a difference.  Lots and lots of curls of silky, soft, bright fleece – Treasure and Queen did us proud.

The rest of the day was spent making sure that Queen’s cria was nursing well, allowing the two to bond and then introducing our new arrival to the herd.

So at least one of those crias was listening when I told them that it was time to make an appearance, I wonder who will be the next one to come forth into the world.


August 22, 2008

Congratulations Girls!


Wednesday we made a trip to the vets with three of our pregnant girls – Theresa, Shiimsa and Queen.  The three girls have all rejected the male three times now and were between 40 and 50 days bred so we wanted to confirm their pregnancy by ultrasound.


Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas actually own Theresa, but we are so used to having her at the farm that we slip up occasionally and call her ours.  Shiimsa and Queen are both ours, with Shiimsa being a maiden alpaca (this is her first pregnancy) and Queen being an old hand at the art of getting pregnant.  With some of our older girls we have taken to not ultrasounding them, trusting their rejection of the male as being a sign that they are pregnant, but as Queen had recently had a tooth abscess, had been on antibiotics and subjected to having her abscess drained on a daily basis we wanted to make sure that she had maintained her pregnancy.


Shiimsa we felt certain was pregnant, as her behavior had changed a lot since she was bred.  She is more dominant at the feed tray and has turned into a bossy girl.   Theresa had fooled us last year,  telling us she was pregnant by rejecting the male alpacas when in fact she was not pregnant and had a Retained CL  (See post June 9, 2008 – Not Quite The Result We Expected).  Having treated Theresa for a Retained CL and bred her, we were reasonable confident she was now pregnant but didn’t want to be fooled again by her behavior.  An ultrasound would reveal if this time she were carrying a cria.


We started the ultrasounds off with Theresa and in a short time our vet found a very large fetus – let’s hope that it is a large girl. 


A very nervous Shiimsa was next but she handled the ultrasound well and again our vet quickly found the fetus.  He said that looking at Shiimsa’s fetus he felt that she was about a week further along in her pregnancy than Theresa, which is about right.


Queen was last for the ultrasound and decided to cush when the vet started to examine her.   Our vet left Queen cushed and started the ultrasound, but was unable to see her uterus clearly as Queen had a very full bladder which was pushing up in the area of her uterus.  We should have told Queen to visit the poop pile before we set off I guess.  Our vet’s technician then suggested that perhaps the procedure would be more effective if we could get Queen to stand up.  With a little encouragement Queen did stand up and Ric was able to support her to where she could not cush again.  The vet started the ultrasound procedure and immediately found a pregnant uterus complete with fetus – great news!  (Queen by the way gave us her usual “I told you so look” before jumping back into the trailer).


We were happy to have the three girls confirmed pregnant.  Theresa and Shiimsa are bred to Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel our multiple color champion herdsire, and Queen is bred to Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure, also a color champion herdsire who we co-own with Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  


It was good to be able to inform Theresa’s owners that they now have another cria on the way.  Theresa has always produced beautiful cria and I am sure the combination of Theresa and Zin will be a good one.  In about eleven months time we will get to see what Shiimsa and Queen produce from their breedings, it seems like a long while to wait but I am sure before we know it the girls will be giving birth!



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