A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 6, 2009

It’s hard to have a cria when your back’s against the wall!

Bjorn's cria - glad to have found his way into the world!

Bjorn's cria - glad to have found his way into the world!

That’s what we had to tell Bjorn yesterday as she tried to deliver her cria.

Yesterday wasn’t particularly a hot day, but it was a humid day making it feel hotter than it actually was.  As we fed the girls in the morning I noticed Bjorn cushed shortly after eating which was unusual for her.  Sure enough she was in labor and once we let her out of the pen where she eats she made her way to the shade of the shelter.

As Bjorn’s labor progressed she wandered around the pasture.  I prepared a pen to put her in once her cria had been delivered.  Being on dry lot I prefer to have a pen with blankets or bedding to put new crias and their dams into so that they can bond after birthing.

Bjorn was definitely seeking out the cool breeze of the fan, but she had strong competition for the prime spot immediately in front of the fan.  Ivanna had already staked her claim to a spot in front of the fan and Black Prince and Buccaneer were cushed there also.

Before long I could see the nose of Bjorn’s cria emerge, but by now Bjorn had firmly wedged herself in front of the fan with her rear pressed up against the wall of the shelter blocking the cria from making any progress.  I tried to move Bjorn so that there was space behind her but as fast as I moved her she moved herself back.  The crias nose came out and went back in again at least twice, and once the cria’s head and feet had fully emerged Bjorn was pushing but there was nowhere for the  cria to go.

Eventually I manage to get Bjorn’s rear away from the shelter wall and with a few more pushes she delivered her cria a large white boy.

Bjorn usually has large crias and at 19.8 lbs this was one of her smallest cria.  You would have thought that Bjorn would be anxious to get her cria delivered quickly rather than position herself to where her cria could not come out.

Bjorn’s cria didn’t seem any worse for wear once he was fully delivered, and was cushed and then up on his feet in a short while.  Bjorn though looked tired after the birthing and took her time resting after the cria was born, but some MSE drench, a bowl of alfalfa and a nice cold bucket of water to drink soon had her up on her feet again.

So we have another white boy to add to our herd.  He’s a handsome looking cria with bright white silky fleece and the dense bone of his sire Zin.  I think he will be quite the good looking lad as he grows up and will be competitive enough to take part in the white classes at the alpaca shows once he is of age.   Now he’s finally out I suspect nothing will stop him!


July 6, 2009

Au Revoir Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Shiimsa and Rio

Sunday saw the departure of Shiimsa and Rio from our farm.  Their new owner Terri Faver collected them so that they could start their new life at Terri’s farm, Almost Canyon Ranch in Canyon, Texas.

Shiimsa is a little bit of a nervous girl and so we gave her some Rescue Remedy to help relax her during her move and also gave both Shiimsa and Rio some MSE Probiotic and Enzyme drench to help their digestive systems adjust to the change in their surroundings.

Shortly after we had finished morning chores we loaded Shiimsa and Rio into Terri’s trailer and they were on their way.  The day was a nice cool one, ideal for traveling alpacas.  Shiimsa showed some concern by humming as we loaded her up, but what she didn’t realize was that once she arrived at her new home she would be reunited with Anya and Serenity who Terri had also purchased from us.  As far as Rio was concerned as long as his dam was there all was okay, I am sure he will miss playing with our other crias, but hopefully Serenity will feel still young enough to join in with his cria games.

What Shiimsa and Rio were also unaware of was that they will soon have access to grass pasture, as Terri has been working hard to get her pastures set up so that the alpacas can go out and graze.  Now that will make them happy!

So we said our farewells to Shiimsa and Rio, but it was really more a case of Au Revoir as we will be seeing them next weekend when we take Regent and Zin over to Terri’s ranch next weekend to breed Anya and Shiimsa.


June 26, 2009

Next Please!

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

Shiimsa and her cria Rio

With Queen, Chai and Rosie all having had their crias we still had Shiimsa, Ivanna, TeQueely and Willow to go. 

Shiimsa is now owned by Terri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch.  Shiimsa is one of Terri’s first alpacas and is her first pregnant dam, so Terri has been anxiously awaiting the birth of Shiimsa’s cria.  With Shiimsa being so far along with her pregnancy when Terri purchased her it was decided that Shiimsa would stay with us until after she delivered her cria.

On June 18 we thought Shiimsa was in labor and so called Terri to let her know.  Terri was able to take time off from work and come over for the day, but alas it turned out to be a false alarm and no cria arrived.

On June 21 though it was a different story.  Following chores Ric and I noticed Shiimsa stretched out beside the hay wagon.  Shiimsa typically spends a lot of her day at the hay wagon, but she rarely stayed there to stretch out or sunbathe, so to see her lying beside the hay wagon was a clue that she might have started labor.

We watched Shiimsa for a while and we could see that this time she really was in labor.  I called Terri who was taking part in a horse show that day and left her a voicemail to let her know that Shiimsa was in labor.  A short while later I received a call back from Terri, she had finished showing her horse and so was leaving the horseshow to take her horse home and then head our way.

By the time I spoke to Terri I could just about see the birthing sack starting to emerge.  Progress was a little slow, but Shiimsa is a maiden alpaca and so her body had to do some new stretching to accommodate the progression of the cria.   I decided to go into the house to collect my birthing kit, towels and other supplies, thinking I had several minutes before the cria was born.

By the time I had gathered my supplies I could see two little legs flapping around behind Shiimsa.  From her earlier slow progress Shiimsa had gathered speed and the cria was nearly fully emerged! 

I made it to Shiimsa just as her cria landed on the ground.  I moved the cria onto a clean blanket and started to dry it off and then checked to see whether the cria was a boy or a girl – it was another boy and another handsome boy at that.

Shiimsa’s cria is either bay black or black and has an unbelievably soft handle to his fleece.  His fleece is crimpy, shiny, fine and dense – what more could you ask for in such a dark male alpaca.

We knew Terri had been hoping for a girl, but once she arrived and saw her new cria she was very happy with him.  Terri already had a name picked out for him – “Rio”.
It is sometimes hard to tell the quality of a young cria, so much can change as they grow up, but little Rio is already showing a lot of potential.  Conformationally he is well put together and with that spectacular fleece I see the words “Color Champion” in Rio’s future.  If that is the case Rio will be following in the footsteps of his sire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel as well as his grandsire Dom Lucilio and his great grandsires Royal Fawn and Acero Marka’s Champ.

Shiimsa has proved to be an excellent mother; she is very attentive to Rio and gets quite distressed when he is out of her sight.  Shiimsa also has lots of milk, a great trait for a female alpaca.  I think Shiimsa has given Terri a great new addition to her alpaca herd.

Ric and I will look forward to seeing Rio grow and mature, we will be making a point to monitor this young male’s show and breeding career, but that is all in the future, for now we will have fun to watching him gallop around the pasture with the other spring crias. 


April 24, 2009

On a Happier Note


Following a sad start to the week, it was good to see something happier happen in the herd.  For the first time in her pregnancy I saw Shiimsa’s cria kicking.


Shiimsa is a maiden alpaca and while I was sure from her shape and her recent ravenous appetite she was still pregnant I had not yet seen her cria move.  I find that sometimes in maiden alpacas you do not seem to see the cria move as much as in those alpacas who have had a cria or two.  I suspect that the toned muscles of the maidens hold up stronger than the muscles of the older girls and thus hide the movement of the cria until those movements become really strong.


As Shiimsa’s pregnancy has progressed she has been gaining a nice round shape and definitely looks like a pregnant alpaca but there is nothing quite like seeing that cria move to make you feel confident that all is progressing as it should be.


Shiimsa is not due until the beginning of June and it will be interesting to see what color her cria is.  Shiimsa herself is a true black alpaca and we have bred her to our herdsire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel who is a light fawn.  Shiimsa’s dam Chai (AB Iyiyiy) is a medium fawn but has grey and black genetics in her background.  When we bred Chai t0 Zin we got Kanika who is also true black.  Shiimsa’s sire Tobiano is dark brown but his sire was true black so we feel that we have a chance of Shiimsa producing a black cria from her breeding to Zin.  Then again at times it seems as if alpacas have not read the book on color genetics and we could end up with a totally unexpected color on Shiimsa’s cria.


Shiimsa’s owner Teri Faver of Almost Canyon Ranch is very much looking forward to the arrival of Shiimsa’s cria.  This will be the first cria born to Teri’s alpacas.  Teri plans on coming to visit Shiimsa this weekend and I think she will be surprised by how much Shiimsa’s “bump” has grown since she last saw her.  Teri will then have the anxious wait that all first time alpaca owners have for their first cria to be born.  Let’s hope Shiimsa does not go too far past her due date and keep Teri waiting too long, still at the end of the day as long as Shiimsa produces a healthy cria I suspect that Teri will not mind the extra wait!





March 7, 2009

Back With The Herd

Atlas poses for a picture before having his fleece cover put back on

Atlas poses for a picture before having his fleece cover put back on


It’s hard to believe that three weeks have already gone by since the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular.  The show string have been in quarantine since their return home and thankfully have not shown any signs of illness.  Having spent their three weeks in quarantine it is now time for the show string to return to their respective pastures.


Atlas, Pride and Mags will rejoin Zin and the junior males, while Dream, Zianna and Kaneka will rejoin the female herd.


We didn’t put the fleece covers back on the show string on their immediate return from the show.  Call us soft if you wish, but we felt after doing so well for us at the show it would be a nice treat to allow the show alpacas to have a little time without their covers on, of course the first thing they did when they got home was to have a good roll, but that’s okay the dirt will drop out before their next show.


This last Thursday we were forecast for dangerously high winds.  It makes me take notice when the local meteorologists forecast “dangerously high winds”, bearing in mind that their idea of “breezy” is 25 –35 mph winds, it makes you wonder what wind speed would deserve the title “dangerous”.   We decided, in view of the forecast, we should put the fleece covers back on the show alpacas before the entire tumbleweed crop of western New Mexico landed in our pastures and in our alpaca’s fleeces!


The winds on Thursday didn’t quite live up to the forecast with wind gusts in the 50 mph range; strong enough we were glad we had put the fleece covers back on the alpacas.  The wind was also strong enough that poor Little Man had a real struggle to get across the pasture, but he’s a tough little guy and he made it.


Prior to putting the fleece covers on we cleaned the alpacas fleeces of the worst of the vegetable matter and took photos of the show string without their covers on.   The alpacas were not too cooperative about having their pictures taken, but we got one or two shots that we can use.  We also checked toenails and teeth and treated ears as a preventative measure against ear ticks.  Then it was back to the herd for the show string who wasted no time at all in getting reacquainted with the rest of the herd.



February 25, 2009

Longer Days, Warmer Temperatures…


And a herdsire’s thoughts turn to alpaca girls!  This last week we have really noticed the days are getting longer and we have also had some unseasonably warm weather even for the southwest.  Temperatures have been in the high seventies and on Monday reached 80 degrees – can it really only be February?


Our herdsire Zin has started to think that spring is in the air and has taken up position by the gate in his pasture.  He just knows that when he goes through that gate he usually goes for breeding, unless of course we are doing behavior tests when he is more likely to get a rejection from a pregnant female than a hot date, but he’s always willing to risk that chance.


While alpaca females are induced ovulators and can breed year round I do feel that spring is a natural time of rebirth in the plant and animal kingdom.  Maybe scents that indicate a female is receptive to breeding are stronger, maybe the warm air just makes those scents travel father but something in the air is definitely telling Zin he should be breeding.


Unfortunately for Zin he is going to have to wait a while yet.  If we bred our open females now they would be having cria at the end of January beginning of February 2010.   January in New Mexico is often colder and wintrier than December and is definitely not a time of the year when we want to be planning on delivering and caring for newborn cria.


The earliest we will resume breedings for our girls will be mid to late May with the aim of delivering our 2010 spring cria crop in late April.  Anytime before then our weather could take a turn for the worse, our average last freeze is April 15th and we have seen some pretty chilly weather in past years in March and early April.


If we get some females from other farms sent to us for breeding then Zin may well get lucky before May, some of the alpaca breeders in more temperate areas of the south do breed for crias to be delivered in January – March.  If that doesn’t happen then Zin will just have to wait by the gate, happily day dreaming about that young female alpaca he just spotted in the girls pasture.  Happy dreams Zin!


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!



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 26, 2008

Another Success – of Sorts

In an earlier post (see post June 9, 2008) I had mentioned that Theresa, one of the alpacas who is boarded with us, had a retained CL that we were treating.  Theresa had fooled us into believing she was pregnant and after over a year’s wait we realized that she had a retained CL that made her think she was pregnant.


We started treating Theresa with Estrumate to help her release the CL and cycle again.  The first treatment had an effect on Theresa but not the one we were looking for.  The Estrumate seemed to make Theresa feel that she had delivered a cria and she stole Ivanna’s cria Zianna.  Zianna (who is still to be introduced on this blog) was quite happy to spend her day with Theresa, but Theresa didn’t have any milk and Ivanna wanted her cria back and so we put Theresa in with a group of young alpacas we were weaning. 


Not having had any success with the Estrumate treatment we repeated it a week later, Theresa continued to reject the male indicating to us that the retained CL was still retained.  We consulted with our vet who suggested that we wait another week and try the treatment again.  If that was not effective we would then need to consult a reproductive specialist.


We gave Theresa the third Estrumate treatment and finally this past Saturday she cushed for our male alpaca Zin and allowed herself to be bred.  Zin who usually breeds for 20 minutes bred Theresa for 40 minutes.  We mentioned this to our vet when we were at his clinic for the ultrasound appointment and our vet said that all of the Estrumate Theresa had received might have had an effect on how she smelt to Zin encouraging his marathon breeding session.  Thinking back I had noticed that Zin had been glued to the fence line for most of the week, gazing longingly over at the girls pasture – perhaps all of that Estrumate really had put love in the air!


On Tuesday while we were breeding some other alpacas I noticed Theresa walk over and cush in front of Zin’s pen indicating that she still has not cycled or conceived.  Having noticed Theresa’s behavior we decided to breed her again yesterday which would be three days since the last breeding.  I fully expected Theresa to cush immediately Zin entered the pen, but instead she spit at him, screamed in his face and then cushed.  This is not normal for Theresa, she is usually pretty definite in her reactions and to me her reaction to Zin was a bit of a mixed message.  Zin bred her for 20 minutes this time, during which Theresa remained cushed and seemed very comfortable.  Still though a question hovers in my mind as to whether she really has not cycled or whether the Estrumate now has her confused as to her reproductive state.


We are going to wait several days before testing Theresa again to allow her body a chance to decide what it really feels.  Should she cush again for Zin then we will take some different steps to ensure that she does not have a uterine infection before we subject her to another breeding.  An alpaca breeding is quite hard on the female’s reproductive tract and we would rather take things a little slower and make sure Theresa is healthy than over breed her and possibly cause more damage than good.


And while we figure out what to do with Theresa young Zin will have to spend his days gazing across at the girls pasture acknowledging the fact that as far as a breeding male alpaca is concerned love is in the air and just a pasture away!



June 18, 2008

Another New Addition to Introduce

Rebecca\'s New Cria

Except this little girl does not have a name yet.  She was born on May 29 to Rebecca, who is owned by Kathryn and Tracy Annis of Dripping Springs, Texas. 


Rebecca’s little girl was somewhat of a surprise.  We knew Rebecca was close to her due date, but our late night check the night before found a happy and content Rebecca chewing her cud and sitting comfortably.


On the morning of May 29 I followed my usual routine of looking out at the girls pasture as soon as I got up.  It was about 6 a.m. and as I looked across the pasture I could see a black alpaca and a medium to dark fawn cria sitting out by the big blue shelter.  Our Queen had delivered her cria on May 13 and as I looked across the pasture I thought that was who I was looking at, until Queen’s cria Atlas ran past the other cria that was sitting in the pasture.  Hold on a minute I thought, that’s one too many crias! 


I called to Ric that we had an extra cria in the pasture, pulled on some clothes (although the neighbors are getting to used to seeing me in my pajamas in the pastures these days!) and ran out to see who had delivered a cria.  As I got nearer I could see that it was Rebecca who had given birth and her cria was sitting happily beside her – a beautiful medium fawn girl out of our herdsire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel.


The cria still had the membrane from the amniotic sack attached to her, but it was dry and flaked off easily.  A check of the pasture revealed that the afterbirth was in the big blue shelter, indicating that was most likely where the cria had been born.  Rebecca’ is no fool and choose a comfortable, sheltered place to have her cria.


We got busy drying off the cria, dipping her naval in Iodine, checking to see that Rebecca had milk and removing the wax caps off her teats and watching to make sure the cria was nursing and getting milk.


It seemed as if we were not the only ones who had missed the big event, as once the other alpacas saw us in the pasture they realized something was going on and all rushed over to greet the new arrival.

Rebecca and her new cria

Rebecca’s cria has proved to be an independent, strong girl.  Rebecca keeps her on a fairly close rein, calling her back to her side if she strays too far, although she does allow her to join in with the crias nightly gallop and chase around the pasture.  Rebecca as always is an excellent dam and has provided great milk for her cria.  Already Rebecca’s cria is over 30 lbs. and is bearing a striking resemblance to her half brother Atlas (they share the same sire), although Atlas is a shade darker than Rebecca’s cria.

 It is difficult to name a cria when you are hundreds of miles away as Kathryn and Tracy are.  I tried to email them some pictures of their new girl but they were unable to open them.  Hopefully they can access this blog entry and at least get an idea of what she looks like and be inspired to give her a name.  In the meantime we will call her RG for Rebecca’s girl and enjoy watching her grow and thrive. (By the way Rebecca and her new cria are up for sale so if you are looking for an excellent black dam who throws some gorgeous crias and who has a beautiful female cria by her side send us an email and we will give you more information.)



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