A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 11, 2009

A Long Awaited Cria Arrives

 

Theresa Checks Out Her New Female Cria

Finally its a girl for Theresa!

Finally it happened, at 11:10 on November 10th (now how’s that for coincidence being born at 11:10 on 11/10) Theresa’s cria was born – and after five boys in a row Theresa had a girl!

Theresa was bred on November 15, 2008 so by my calculation she had a gestation of 360 days – phew!

We suspected that Theresa was finally thinking of having her cria when she started acting differently late in the day on Monday.  We noticed Theresa was standing a lot, not eating as much as usual and when she did cush it was very slowly.  By 8 p.m. Theresa had started to hum which was a bit concerning as it was an indication that labor was getting closer and we didn’t want a cria born during the night.  Apart from the humming though Theresa seemed otherwise comfortable.  I monitored her until 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday and as she still seemed comfortable at that time I made tracks for bed.

Of course you never really sleep that well when you are wondering if one of your alpaca girls is outside in the throes of labor, by 5:15 a.m. I was up to check on Theresa and could see that she was still cushed comfortably.  Theresa ate well at feeding time, although the humming was still continuing, but after feeding she isolated herself from the herd and then I was certain her cria was on its way.

By 8:50 a.m. Theresa was starting to push.  I have known Theresa for many years and have seen her give birth several times.  I know that with Theresa labor does not progress quickly and just when you start to think you should call the vet she gives a huge push and out pops her cria.   Theresa’s labor progressed as I expected and by 11:05 a.m. I could just see the tip of the crias nose.  Next came Theresa’s usual huge contraction and at 11:10 a.m. her cria was born.

By the time the cria arrived the other alpaca girls had gathered round to check out the new arrival, much to Theresa’s annoyance, so as soon as Theresa was rested and up I took her and her cria and put them in a catch pen to bond.

 

Theresa's Cria Standing Strong

Theresa's cria tries out her long legs

 

 

For Theresa there had been a long gap between crias, following the birth of her last cria she had developed a uterine infection which took a long while to clear up.  Once the uterine infection was gone Theresa was bred again but sadly lost her cria at 90 days gestation when the crias umbilical cord became wrapped around the crias neck.  We have not had that happen before, it was an unfortunate accident but there was nothing we could have done to prevent it and nothing we could do about it.  Theresa was bred again (after we had allowed her body to recover from the loss of her cria) and this time all went well.   Theresa had a good pregnancy, even though it was another long one.

So now Theresa finally has a daughter and what a good looking girl she is.  Her fleece is very curly and soft and like her mother she loves to eat (or in her case nurse).  Theresa’s cria wasted no time in getting to her feet and having a nurse as soon as she was able and Theresa was more than happy for her to do so.

Our congratulations go to Theresa’s owners Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas.  Troy and Mary were very patient during the process of getting Theresa bred again, through all that happened their only concern was that Theresa be healthy and given all that was needed to help her have a good pregnancy.  Troy and Mary’s patience paid off and now they have been rewarded with a beautiful female cria.  I am sure Troy and Mary will love her when they get to see her, and knowing them I am betting that will be soon!
Rosemary

January 3, 2009

Homeward Bound

Friday saw the return home of three alpaca girls who had been here for breeding, Moonshadow, Ariana and Sonora.  Picked up by their owners Marilyn Knudsen and Roberto Ibarra of Altiplano Alpacas and Melita Clark and Mark Hogan of Milagro Meadow Alpaca Ranch, the girls wasted no time getting started on happily munching the hay that was in their trailer.

 

We had a great visit with Marilyn, Roberto, Melita and Mark catching up on our news and showing off our alpacas to them.  Later in the year we will hear from them as the girls deliver their crias and hopefully we will get a chance to see those crias either at their farms on the show circuit.  It is always pleasing to catch up with the offspring of our herdsires and see how they turned out. 

 

Offering alpaca breeding services at our farm is enjoyable to us and of course contributes to the farm income.  To me it is great to greet new arrivals, get to know their different personalities and send them home pregnant with a much anticipated cria.  To be able to make a positive contribution to another alpaca breeders breeding program brings us great satisfaction.

 

During their stay here, visiting alpacas are treated just like all of the other alpacas in our herd and become part of the “alpaca family” so as to say.  There is often a slight tinge of sadness when they leave us, accompanied by happiness from their owners who are glad to be reunited with their alpacas again.

 

Often alpaca breedings run smoothly, with the girls being ready to be bred and getting pregnant on the first or second breeding attempt.  Occasionally we run into a problem such as a retained CL, an immature maiden, uterine infections or hormonal imbalances.  When such problems occur we work closely with the owner and our vet to try and end up with a good result.  In all of our years of offering alpaca breedings there have only been two times that we have been unable to achieve a pregnancy, a good ratio for us, but of course not good news for the owners of the alpacas concerned.

 

We were careful to get some experience of breeding alpacas before we started offering breeding services to other breeders.  The natural growth of our herd enabled us to breed several of our own females before advertising for business from other farms.  Educational seminars were also a big help, although there are always going to be scenarios that crop up that are not covered and that challenge you. 

 

It is a big responsibility to take on the care and reproductive future of another farms alpacas and it was important to us to at least have some experience and success under our belts before taking on that responsibility.   As time progressed we learned the benefits of having a good contract, clear and frequent communication, a quarantine protocol, a good vet, a good network of alpaca breeders to refer to and a thorough understanding of alpacas.  All of those things help make our job easier and contribute to a successful alpaca breeding.

 

So now Moonshadow, Ariana and Sonora are back at their home farms and we have three less alpacas in our care.  It always amazes me how just having three less makes a difference to the herd, things seemed a little quieter when I did chores the evening after the girls left and there was a definite reduction in the amount of poop in the poop piles!  I am sure it won’t be long though before new visitors arrive and we will have new alpacas to get acquainted with.

 

Rosemary

October 19, 2007

Preparations for Fall Breedings

Now the cooler weather is here it is time for us to start breeding the alpaca girls who are open (not yet bred).  Most of our girls were bred for spring crias but there are a few who still need to be bred.  Clarissa birthed later than expected in the spring and we were unable breed her back due to the heat, Carina and Zoie have not long had their crias and are at the point when it would be good to breed them back.  Keeva and Cinnamon did not get pregnant during the spring breeding season.  Keeva had a bad dystocia the previous winter and was given a good break after that to let her recover and Cinnamon is a maiden female who we tried to breed in the spring but was apparently not quite ready for breeding.  Cinnamon has now turned two so we are optimistic that she will become pregnant this fall.

We have made our decision as to which herdsire will be bred to each girl and so will now start the breeding process.  Before breeding the girls though there are a few things to take care of.  Clarissa and Carina were due for vaccination and so we vaccinated them yesterday and will wait a few days before breeding them.  We used to vaccinate our pregnant girls two weeks prior to delivery of their cria, but recent studies show that some female alpacas get stressed over the vaccination process causing them to go into labor early.  We don’t want to risk losing a cria, but do need to make sure that the girls get their booster shots and so have taken to giving the vaccinations in the period between them birthing and breeding.  So far this has worked well and we have not seen any disadvantages, the dams do well and the crias born fromthe breedings subsequent to the dam’s vaccinations have good IgG results.

After Keeva’s dystocia we had her examined by our vet to check that she was still reproductively sound.  Our vet found her to be in good condition considering all that Keeva went through but did have to remove one small stricture of scar tissue in the birth canal.  We have also run a uterine culture on Keeva to make sure she does not have a uterine infection.  Low-grade uterine infections can occur in female alpacas and often the alpaca does not show any symptoms of having an infection.  The infection is often enough to prevent a pregnancy though. 

With Keeva’s results back and looking good and the vaccinations completed we will now be able to start to breed the girls.  

I am traveling to Louisiana today to attend the Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo, according to my travel information I should have access to the Internet from my hotel room and should be able to squeeze in a blog entry or two.  Ric will be staying home on “cria watch” with Chai, her due date is Sunday and her past two crias were both born exactly on the due date so the chances are Ric will be busy with a new cria this weekend.  I hate to miss the birthing of one of our crias, but at least Ric can be home to man the fort.  You can bet I will be waiting for my phone to ring on Sunday with good news! 

Rosemary

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.

Rosemary

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