A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

February 27, 2009

There’s Nothing Quite Like Good Manners

Mile High Merry Me

Mile High Peruvian Merry Me

 

At feeding time alpacas are usually not shy in coming forward, they love their feed and as you walk into the pen you are met with the jostling of the herd as they vie for the position closest to the feed bowls.  In the girls pen our Anya is always first in the queue, with Theresa not far behind.  Rosie, Shiimsa, Velvet and Willow are normally in the next “row” in the hope that they too can get their noses in the feed bowls before anyone else does.  With the junior boys I know that Zeus and Blast will make a mad dash for the boxcar as they know that they get fed in there first, while in the adult boys pen Braveheart will always be first in line, reaching over your shoulder to get the first munch on the pellets.

 

Feeding time is definitely a time of bustling alpaca energy, so when we run into the occasional polite alpaca it almost takes us by surprise.

 

Mile High Peruvian Merry Me belongs to our alpaca neighbors Bob and Regina Dart.  Merry Me is staying at our farm along with several other of the Dart’s breeding females who came here to deliver their cria.

 

Merry Me is a well built girl and would have no problem physically shoving another alpaca out of the way should she choose to do so, but that’s the thing with Merry Me, she never would do such a thing.

 

I think Merry Me is the most polite alpaca I have ever met.  Every morning when we feed she waits until her seven pen mates have entered their feeding pen before she even thinks about entering the pen herself.  Once her feeding companions are in place, then and only then will she come forward.  If there is another alpaca standing between Merry Me and the pen entrance she will not push past them, she will either gently walk around them or wait for me to move them out of her way.  This girl really does have good manners!

 

It took us a little while to realize why Merry Me would not rush into the feeding pen as the other alpacas do.  It’s not that she is shy, it’s not that she is timid, she is just well mannered.   I’m not sure if Merry Me’s politeness is just her nature or whether her breeder taught her her manners, but what I am sure of is it is certainly nice to have such a polite alpaca on the farm.  Now if I can just get her to give some lessons in manners and etiquette to some of the others…

 

Rosemary

September 22, 2008

Safely Home From The State Fair

 

The New Mexico State Fair is over and Ric and the alpacas arrived back home yesterday evening.

 

This year’s State Fair Alpaca Show was a little smaller than those of previous years with approximately 224 entries.  The economy and high fuel prices are making people think hard about which shows they travel to.  According to the State Fair staff, livestock entries were down across the board and a local news channel reported that attendance at the State Fair was also down.

 

Still the alpaca entries came from several states, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California to name a few.

 

According to Ric our four alpacas all behaved well and were very relaxed for the whole trip.  Only one of them Windrush White Blast had been to a show before, for the other three this was a new experience.

 

Unfortunately young Zeus did not place in his class, one of the hazards of being in a competitive class of juvenile white male alpacas, usually the largest class at a show.  Zeus is a little small for his age and that probably went against him, but he is still young, has a beautiful bright white fleece and has lots of time to grow.

 

Blast did also not fair as well as we had hoped, but he did come away with a 6th place ribbon, the judge liked his fine, soft handing fleece and crimp style but felt he was not as dense as some of the other alpacas in the class.

 

Windrush Zindel’s Carissima took a third in her class, and she was the youngest in her class as well.  The judge really liked her fleece (it is really nice if I say so myself!) and commented that that she realized Carissima still has some growing to do. Carissima is starting to enter that gangly adolescent stage that young alpacas go through, so hopefully in a few months she will be looking more adult, and I bet her spring show season will be a successful one.

 

Finally our true black juvenile Windrush Zindel’s Kaneka did us proud by taking not only second in her class but also going on to win the Reserve Color Champion – well done Kaneka!  And well done Ric for traveling to the show on your own, setting up and manning the booth and showing the alpacas, even with just four alpacas shows are hard work on your own, but they also are fun too,

 

Now the show alpacas will be placed into quarantine for the next three weeks, just in case they picked up any parasites or other ills during their trip.  The biosecurity and vet checks at the show were very thorough, but there is still always a risk of bringing back something unwanted and if that does happen we don’t want it spreading through the herd, especially as we have young crias due to be born any day.

 

Back at the ranch, we continue with cria watch, no sign of any imminent births yet, just some heavily pregnant dams waddling around the pasture, enjoying the cool breeze of the fan, having a roll in the dust from time to time, dipping their feet in the water bucket (I’ve lost track of how many times I have had to rinse and refill the bucket!) and eating hay to keep those crias growing!

 

Rosemary

August 1, 2008

People Arriving, Paca’s Leaving

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, Crias, General, shearing — Tags: , , , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:31 am

Rosson

Rosson

 

Yesterday saw the arrival of Kathryn and Tracy Annis from Dripping Springs, Texas.  Kathryn and Tracy are here to pick up four of their girls, Rebecca, Rosson, Athena and Zoie and take them back to Texas.  The alpacas have been boarded here while on consignment sale but now Kathryn and Tracy have a place where they can board them at no cost and so decided to take up that offer.  Rebecca, Rosson, Athena and Zoie will still be listed for sale from our farm so if you are looking for some beautiful alpaca girls to either get your herd started or add to you herd let me know!

 

I will be a little sad to see the girls go, they have been here for close to two years and during that time I have seen Rebecca and Zoie give birth and have raised their crias.  Zoie’s cria Zeus who we worked so hard on getting to gain weight when he was younger will be staying with us and soon joining our herd of junior boys under the watchful eye of our herdsire Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel who does well with the younger males.  Zeus is a beautiful young male with such a bright white fleece that shines in the sunshine.  I am looking forward to seeing him mature and using him as a herdsire in the future.

 

Rebecca and Zoie are old hands at traveling and Athena has been to a show or two, but little Rosson will be in for her first long trailer ride.  She did go to the vets with us when we took Rebecca and Zoie for Brucellosis and TB testing, the testing being a requirement for re-entry of alpacas into the state of Texas.  I know that Rosson will miss her seven little cria buddies, it will be very strange to her to be the only cria in her little group, but she will have Rebecca with her and maybe even Athena will buddy up with her.  Athena herself will be leaving her herd mates, but being a little older will probably adjust easier to the change.

 

Of course waiting for the girls in Texas is a real treat – grass!  Not lush pasture right now, but at least some grass to graze.  The shorter grass will give them a chance to gradually get used to grazing having been in a dry lot situation for so long.

 

We will enjoy our time with Kathryn and Tracy, they are both a lot of fun to be around and it has been well over a year since we have seen them.  Poor Ric will be putting up with a weekend full of alpaca talk and fiber talk as Kathryn is also a knitter and now also a weaver and Tracy is a herd manager, shears alpacas and is a Camelidynamics Practitioner.  I am sure Ric will manage to keep his sanity though.  Most likely will busy himself with projects in his workshop where it will be relatively peaceful compared to the chatter of three women who have a lot to catch up on and a lot to talk about!

 

Rosemary

 

June 17, 2008

And The Honorable Mention Goes To……. Me!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Shows, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:23 am

AOBA Nationals Photo Contest Ribbon

Just before I left for my trip to England I made a last minute decision to enter some of my photographs in the Photo Competition at the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) National Show, which was held this year in Sandy, Utah.  The National show is one of the largest alpaca shows in the US and while I was not going to be able to enter alpacas in the show I thought I could at least enter the photo competition.

 

I sent in three photos, one was of Blast nursing when he was a cria, the other was of young Megan Stewart (daughter of our friend Jennifer Stewart) in with some of the male alpacas, and the third was of Jennifer Stewart and Zeus at Halloween when Jennifer visited our farm dressed as a clown.

 

I hadn’t heard anything back on my photo entries until the other day when a large padded envelope arrived in the mail.  Inside was a ribbon and a letter from AOBA informing me that I had received an honorable mention in the Humor Category for my photo of Jennifer and Zeus.  I was very pleased, this is the first time I had ever won any sort of award for photography and as my photos usually leave a lot to be desired it is quite an achievement for me!

 

For the competition I titled the photo “I’m cute what’s your excuse” and you can see it on my blog entry for November 1, 2007.   Part way through that blog entry you will see two pictures together, the one I submitted to the competition is the one on the right hand side.

 

The ribbon will now go on display in our studio I think, along with a copy of the picture.  It will also be printed in the Autumn 2008 copy of Alpacas Magazine and will eventually be loaded on the AOBA members website www.alpacaowners.com – not bad for a last minute entry!

 

Rosemary

February 2, 2008

How Fast They Grow

While looking through my photo collection I was struck by how much Zeus is changing.   Like any young thing it seems that alpaca crias grow so fast, and sometimes when you see them everyday the gradual changes fool you into forgetting how much change has taken place and have different they have become.

Zeus was born at the end of September 2007; he has been the subject of many posts on this blog due to his slow and erratic weight gain.  Thankfully now he seems to have overcome his weight gain issue and is becoming a striking young alpaca.

This picture was taken when Zeus was just a few days old.

 Zeus Looking Cute

Who would have imagined that just over four months later, that little face would change into this one!

 Zeus Face on January 2008

As you can see the little guy is still adorable but what a dramatic change.  Even his body has now filled out from this

 Zeus Standing Proud

To this!

 Zeus January 2008

He’s starting to look like a little mini adult alpaca. 

It will be interesting to see how Zeus ends up looking.  I am sure he is going to be quite striking, and he is convinced that his future job description will be herd sire.  He has taken to orgling a lot (orgling is the noise a male alpaca makes during breeding) and is even scenting the poop pile like an adult male alpaca would.  He practices mounting Kanika and Carissima several times during the day and has even ventured trying his luck with some of the older girls.  Of course all of his advances are rejected, but if he’s going to be a herdsire he had better get used to that!

 Zeus and his dam Zoie are at our farm for sale on consignment so chances are by the time he is of breeding age he will be many miles away from here.  Still I will keep in touch with their new owners once they are sold, I always like to keep in touch with our “alpaca family” even if they are here on consignment.  In Zeus’s case though he has become a special boy, it has taken work to get him to where he is, but now his body is functioning well on it’s own to keep him healthy and hearty and to prepare him for a future as a breeding male.  I will follow his progress as he continues in life – and who knows I may even need to reserve some breedings from him for our girls some day!

Rosemary

January 21, 2008

A Few Updates

For those of you who have been following the blog on a regular basis you might be wondering on the progress of some of the animals on the farm that have been mentioned in previous blog entries.  For the most part the news is good, and I thought you would like to hear how everyone is doing.

First I will start off with Zoie’s cria Zeus who was having such a tough time gaining weight during his first few months.  I am happy to report that Zeus is doing really well, he has started to show better weight gain and is turning out to be a good looking boy with lots of fleece.  He is still compact in frame, but his sire has a compact body shape and so that probably has a lot to do with Zeus’s frame style.  Zeus is starting to develop the same heavy bone as his sire too and I suspect he is going to be quite the stud when he matures!  (He thinks he has already matured and frequently tries his hand at trying to convince the girls he is ready for a date!)

Our girl Chai still is not 100%, she eats well and her energy levels are good but despite gaining back about 20 lbs of the weight she lost she sill has a gaunt appearance.  Her milk production has increased and her cria Kanika is a little mischief and doing well.  We drew blood from her yesterday (thank you to Bob Dart from Llano Soleado Alpacas for coming out on a cold morning to do that for us) and will see what her blood levels show this time around.  Chai has been off antibiotics for a little while now and hopefully her white blood cell count will have stabilized.  When we ran a fecal test on Chai she showed the lowest of levels of parasites but our vet advised us to worm her anyway.  Chai seemed to gain weight once we wormed her and I am going to worm her again to see how she responds this time.  As I mentioned in an entry the other day Chai has experienced a return of the facial abscess that we thought had cleared up, something that indicates to me that perhaps her immune system is not quite up to par.  Chai doesn’t seem to think she has a problem though and is first in line for food and eager to eat hay.  She has even started “arguing” with the other girls if they try to steal her spot at the hayrack.

Blast, Velvet, Athena and Shiimsa have made excellent progress with their halter training and day weaning.  We will be completing the final stages of weaning in the next week or so and preparing them for their first trip away from home (with the exception of Shiimsa who has been to a show before).

On the “pet” side of things, Toby the Pomeranian has continued to make excellent progress in his recovery from his vaccine reaction.  His medication has again been reduced and we are down to visiting the vet only every other week, however recent blood tests have shown that so far Toby is still not producing enough red blood cells.  The vet is hopeful that the reduction in medication may help that situation.  Toby has gained weight and is almost back to his old self, but does tend to be a little grumpier and is most likely more spoiled than he was before (is that possible I ask!).

Snuggler the barn cat has decided that he still enjoys time outside with his barn cat buddies.  He is completely recovered from his injuries and spends most of his time outside, but has figured out that he can get food in the house in the morning and then food down at the barn as well.  He often stays out overnight, something that causes me concern as I am not 100% sure that the dog that has been killing our cats and which injured Snuggler is not still paying us visits at night.  I must say that I have been surprised that during this cold snap that Snuggler has chosen to stay out in the cold rather than to stay in the warm house at night.   There have been a couple of nights that Snuggler has graced us with his presence but most nights he wants to be out and with his friends.

And finally there is Bandit the dog who is still with us.  We did have one family contact us about Bandit but unfortunately they did not follow up on their enquiry about him.  Bandit does not seem too concerned and enjoys his twice daily walks.  He loves to fetch a ball and has figured out where all the water sources on the property are – something that is a necessity to him as he still thinks it is fun to turn over his water bowl and then throw it up in the air for fun!  Bandit has a set routine on his walk when he takes off to visit Missy and Tripster the two dogs in the back yard, he then diverts over to see Sandie our other dog who has her own side yard (she doesn’t play well with others).  Once the visits are over Bandit gallops back to me at breakneck speed and then sits and waits for the reward of a dog biscuit.  We are still trying to find Bandit a good home and the pressure is now on to rehouse him as he is currently staying in the livestock trailer which we will need to use for the show in February.

As time goes by the girls in the alpaca herd are looking more pregnant each day, its hard to believe that in a few months we will be in cria season with more “little zippers” cavorting around the pasture – and hopefully warmer weather too!

Rosemary

November 14, 2007

Zeus Loses His Coat!

Zeus Standing Proud Well it had to happen eventually, little Zeus has finally outgrown his cria coat.  We tried to put it on him Monday evening but within minutes he was taking part in the nightly cria races with the coat hanging around his neck.  It didn’t seem to bother him too much, but it really doesn’t do him any good hanging from his neck so I took it off him and wondered if he would have a good weight gain the next day.  I am glad to report that he did gaining 0.8 lb, one of his biggest gains ever.  I hesitate to assume that he will now have a steady and strong weight gain, it seems that every time I do that he defies me and doesn’t gain the next day.

We did do something a little different the day before Zeus’s weight gain and that was to feed some calf manna to Zoie (Zeus’s dam), Carina and Chai.  Zeus was in the pen too and so could have nibbled on some of the calf manna.

The calf manna was really intended for Chai who is having a hard time holding her weight.  We will be taking Chai in to the vets for her follow up blood work and hopefully the latest blood panel will give us an indication as to what is going on with Chai.  We will also run a fecal test on her to check for parasites, previous fecal tests have shown Chai free of parasites, but just in case we are missing some parasites in a dormant stage it will be worth running another test.

The calf manna is an interesting product that has been used in livestock for many years.  A milk based product it is easily digestible, it runs about 25% protein and contains the herbs fenugreek and anise which are two of the ingredients in the lactation stimulant herbal mix we use.   I figured that with Zoie needing to produce more milk for Zeus, Chai needing more calories in her diet and Carina feeding both Carissima and Zeus the three of them could benefit from a little calf manna in their diet.   We have decided to feed the three girls a cup each of the calf manna every morning and night in addition to their regular feed and we will be interested to see what effect it has on them.  The calf manna does have a very distinctive odor to it but our girls and Zeus didn’t seem to care too much about the odor and were happy to eat the calf manna quickly.

So we will have to see if calf manna is indeed manna from heaven for Chai and Zeus!

Rosemary

November 7, 2007

Good News All Round

Enchantment’s Prince Regent  I think everyone loves to hear good news, there is so much bad news in the media that many people I talk to are thirsting to hear good news.  It’s also funny how sometimes we get a run of bad news and then thankfully something changes and the good news starts flowing in.

Our first piece of good news today is that Snuggler the cat is doing much better.  After a day of doing pretty much nothing but sleeping he is now up and around, albeit hobbling on his two good legs.  His right rear leg will at least take some of his weight although there is still some looseness there.  His left front leg still has some swelling and is dragging, but I feel it is improved and dragging less than it was when we took him in to the vet on Monday.  Certainly he was up to following me around yesterday afternoon and even jumped up onto the chairs, insisting on sitting next to me while I worked on the computer.  It is great to see him showing such interest in life, even though he made typing on the computer difficult as he tried to bat the keys with his good paw.

Little Zeus has had a good couple of days too, with some more consistent weight gain.  He is eating a little grain and more hay than he was so maybe his system is starting to get used to those new additions to his diet.  He now weighs 26.7 lbs and has not too much further to go to reach the 30 lb mark.  We are still putting a cria coat on him at night as our nights are starting to get close to freezing and I still want to save every calorie I can with that young man.

Kanika is rapidly gaining ground on Zeus and now weights 22.7 lbs.  She is a real live wire, stirring up the other crias to play, coming over to check out what we are doing when we enter the pasture and having regular sessions when she just bucks and runs for joy.

Rebecca has had no further signs of discomfort and is back to being one of the first to meet me at the gate in the morning, which is good to see despite her grumbles and groans when I wont let her steal pellets from the feed bowls as I walk into the pasture.

Over the weekend the LA Deep South Show was held in Shreveport, Louisiana and we have heard that the offspring of our herdsire Enchantment’s Prince Regent did well in the halter show.  We have had reports (unconfirmed as yet) that Regent’s daughter CHR Carlee’s Peak (owned by Copper Hill Ranch) took fourth in her class, Regent’s son Prince Regent’s Treasure of Airlie (owned by Timber Lodge Alpacas) took first in his class and another of Regent’s sons Traversura’s Sulaimon (owned by Tierra Prometida Alpacas) took not only first in his class but went on to take the white color champion as well.   Well done to all our Regent grandkids and well done for Regent for being such a superstar herdsire male!

Rosemary

October 30, 2007

Update on Chai

Chai and KanikaYesterday we heard back from our vet on the results of Chai’s bloodwork.  Our vet is a sole practitioner and sometimes his work schedule means that he doesn’t get to call us as quickly as he would like to.  Most definitely if there is something urgent or life threatening he will call us immediately, but on routine matters we sometimes have to call his office rather than wait for him to call us.  I knew from talking to the vet’s secretary earlier in the week that following his appointment at our farm our vet had then gone on to deal with a whole day of emergency calls and that therefore his workload was heavy right now.  When working with your vet it is important to get to know him or her so that you understand what you can expect of them and what they expect of you.  With good understanding and communication between vet and owner a good relationship will develop over time.

On dear Chai our vet said that she appears to have some form of bacterial infection.  Her white blood cell count is a little high and her neutrophils are on the high side too.  The rest of her blood panel does not look bad and there is no indication as to where the infection may be. 

Late pregnancy can often make dams more susceptible to infection, their bodies are trying to cope with growing a cria and preparing to produce milk for that cria and the stress on a dam’s body at that time is great.  Certainly Chai has been doing better since she gave birth to Kanika, but she must still be fighting the infection.

Our vet has suggested that we put Chai on a ten day course of antibiotics, the antibiotic he has prescribed should not have any adverse affect on Chai’s milk and therefore should be safe for little Kanika, however our vet was careful to check that Chai had not yet been bred back as antibiotics in the early stages of pregnancy can have an effect on the developing cria.

Once the course of antibiotics has been completed we will then run another set of blood work on Chai to make sure her body is responding.  Hopefully it will do so and we will have her back to good health really soon.

As a foot note on little Zeus I have to report that he had a better weight gain yesterday so maybe the vitamins are working – we’ll just have to wait a little longer to see!

Rosemary

October 29, 2007

Zeus – Eat Your Vitamins!

At Windrush Alpacas we are committed to ensuring that our alpacas get the maximum nutrition possible.  We feed good quality hay that is analyzed to ensure it has the right balance of nutrients and feed a special alpaca pellet that has been formulated for alpacas raised in our environment.  We put out free choice minerals and also top dress our feed with MSE granules which are an organic enzyme feed additive that assist in keeping the alpacas rumens healthy and functioning well and also increase the digestibility of the alpacas feed to ensure that they are able to extract the maximum nutrition from their feed. In addition to the MSE granules we also top-dress our feed with Dr. Norm Evans Fiber Nutrients, which are a special preparation of vitamins and minerals formulated to maximize alpaca fiber without increasing it in micron size and making it coarser. 

You would think with all of this effort on nutrition we would never have any nutritional issues, and for the most part we don’t, but as with any species each individual alpaca has slightly different nutritional requirements and once in a while one comes along that needs more attention on nutrition than others.

Right now our challenge alpaca is still little Zeus.  While he has been gaining weight erratically he still has not established a good weight gain pattern.  He is nursing from his dam, who has milk but not an abundance of milk, he is nursing from one of our other dams Carina twice a day (while she is distracted with some alfalfa hay), he is nursing now and again from our llama Inca and he is now eating hay well and picking at a little grain at feeding time.  You would think with all of these various feed sources he would be gaining weight well, but to the contrary his weight gain over the last few days has slowed down with him only gaining one or two tenths of a pound a day.

So what are we to do with this little fellow?  Well, we could do nothing and just see how he fares, but I feel that would end up in a poor or even possibly fatal result and that is not what we want.  So we have to re-think what we are doing with Zeus and look further into possible causes for his lack of weight gain.

One thing we have not tried yet with Zeus is a regular course of Vitamins A, D and E.  In many northern states alpaca breeders routinely supplement their fall crias with Vitamins A, D and E.  In the northern states the days are cloudier and less sunny in the fall meaning a decrease in the natural absorption of Vitamins A, D and E for fall crias.  In the southwest though our days are still long and sunny and typically we do not experience problems with lack of vitamins A, D and E in our fall crias.  But maybe Zeus is the exception to the rule and so we have now started him on a course of Vitamin A, D and E paste a couple of times a week.  Some breeders prefer to use an injectable A, D and E vitamin supplement but some alpacas have reacted to the carrier solution that the injectable A, D and E mix comes in and we prefer to avoid risking a reaction to an injection.

We are still monitoring Zeus’s weight on a daily basis and will continue to do so for quite a while.  Usually once a cria reaches 25 lbs. we go to an every other day weighing schedule and then once they reach 30 lbs. we weigh them once a month, but with Zeus not showing a strong weight gain pattern it will be beneficial to continue to monitor his weight gain closely.

If we find the Vitamin A, D and E paste is not having much effect on Zeus then we will also feed him 5 cc of MSE drench a couple of times a week which will help him digest his feed more efficiently.

Of course we will be consulting with our vet for his opinion as to other options for Zeus.  It may be that he feels a blood work up will be a good idea, or possibly some thyroid testing could be in order.

On the good side of things Zeus has plenty of energy, he chases around the pasture at full speed with Carissima and Kanika and has no trouble keeping up with them.  He does not appear to tire easily and if not for our diligence in weighing him on a daily basis we would have a hard time telling that he was not making the progress with his weight that he should be.

So let’s hope that the additional vitamins help stimulate Zeus to where he starts to gain weight steadily and well and in the meantime I will continue to plan and research other avenues we can take to help him and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t have to use them!

Rosemary

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