Alpaca Psychology

Alpaca psychology is just so interesting. Usually when I’m doing spit checking I wear a certain hat, mostly because I don’t want to get caught in the cross fire, when I lead in the male. The other day I went in the female pen to do something else, and I was pretty much ignored by everyone for about ten minutes, until I put on that hat. All of a sudden one of my females charged at me, exactly as she does to a male when spit checking, did the whole “standing sideways, don’t mess with me pose” and started spitting at ME! Conditioned response much? Out of all the females, she’s the only one that made the hat/spit check connection. She also stopped as soon as I took it off, and went on her merry way. Lol Normally she is a pretty mellow girl, that’s what makes it extra funny to me. Looking forward to her cria…she’s definitely pregnant!

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Halter Training The Crias

Getting ready for Spring Show

Well, we still have a couple of feet of snow on the ground, and a huge risk of flooding, so keeping these guys clean and dry for the show is going to be a challenge! Today the weather is supposed to warm up to +4 so we should get some halter training done…. less than one month until the show! Yikes!

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Baby George

When Winter Mist lost her baby, we put her in the bonding pen with Cover girl and new baby George, so she could recuperate.  Winter Mist being an experienced mum, decided she would be taking part in raising George.  With her abundant supply of milk and no cria of her own, George got the best of both worlds, and would be often seen going from biological mom to adoptive mom, for twice the milk! Needless to say George was a fast grower, and is never too far away from one of his two mums.

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The Dystocia

Since we have been breeding alpacas for around 10 years, I can honestly say that dystocias are not very common, but they do happen.  We always prepare our birthing kits so we are ready about a month before cria season is set to begin.  So we have all of our gloves, lube, clamps, scissors, hair dryer, towels, iodine etc. all ready IN CASE there is a problem.  In our climate it’s a good idea to have the hair dryer and towels around all the time.  We have had perfectly normal (fully developed) crias born at 10 months gestation- this can throw you for a loop especially if there is still snow on the ground!  We have also had crias born at 12 months gestation instead of the regular 11 months that is expected.
Expect the unexpected
This past summer I had an older maiden go into labour at the same time as an experienced mum.  Past experience told me to watch the maiden, as we were in a huge field and they decided to labour on opposite ends of it I couldn’t be at two places at once.  I followed the maiden who seemed to be progressing slightly faster than the other.  After a longer than expected labour, she finally delivered a healthy happy boy, and she really bonded with him quite quickly (which is not always the case for a first time mum)  I then set off to check on the experienced girl, I half expected that there would be a cria on the ground when I returned, but this was not the case.  She had been having contractions for too long in my opinion without any progress, luckily I had a cell phone on me, and I had brought the cria birthing  kit as well.  I called for some back up, when my mom and husband got there, I could see something was sticking out, it looked like an ear….when i looked closer I could see it was the cria’s tail. SHIT.  A couple quick calls to local vets determined that everyone was on a call, or on vacation…no one would be able to get there for a couple of hours at least, and this baby was coming out!  Being prepared is probably what saved this girls life, we had the foresight to stock our medical kit with tons of lube and gloves Thank goodness we were prepared.  My husband held mama still (of course this is one of our 200 lb females) while my mom and I tried to manipulate the cria into the right position. This baby was huge, and there was no way we could turn it, no matter what we did…there was just no possible way, there wasn’t any room in there.  So we had to deliver her the way she was coming out, as the mother at this point was getting very distressed.  So we delivered the baby bum and hocks first, which is very hard to do, as there isn’t much to hang onto, and it is a very tight squeeze.  It took both my mom and I pulling with all our strength with our fingers, the only way we could grip the baby was by getting our fingers around the leg and pulling.  My hands were pretty useless for a whole week after this ordeal, I was pulling so hard.  Eventually we got the baby out, but she was a stillborn and she was quite big around 20 lbs.  The mother  recovered quite well after the ordeal, and our vet said that we did everything right given the circumstances, and he was quite surprised we managed to get the baby out without any vaginal tearing for the mum, so we were quite pleased with how she was healing up.  So it just goes to show you, you should expect the unexpected…nine times out of ten if there is going to be a difficult birth it would be the maiden over the experienced girl.  Well our girl is doing great now, and with any luck she will be having a Mantra cria in the fall of  2011!

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The Textbook Birth

I love spring, and the arrival of cria season, there is simply nothing better than baby alpacas bouncing around the paddock.  I love our experienced alpaca mums, and I have far less apprehension when I see one of them go into labour.  Usually they know what’s going on, they are so calm and cool about it, many of them continue to eat  while they are having strong contractions!  Our experienced mums have never had any milk supply problems either.  Although we have a supply of colostrum on hand just in case there are any problems, for our “been there done that” mums it’s never really been necessary.  Here is a video of one of my experienced mums, from the point of her water breaking (right at the beginning of the video) to baby delivered…takes just over 6 minutes! THAT is a textbook awesome birth! 

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Turbo OMG!

It was an unseasonably warm day in April 2010, when I decided that I should do some pregtests on the females, to make sure everyone I thought was pregnant was in fact pregnant.  I walked over to the stud pen, and said “all right boys, who wants to get spit on?”  most of the boys just went back to eating,  But our Black stud male Turbo seemed to be volunteering for the job. So I haltered him up and went to the girls pen, it took him a while to really get into the whole orgling thing, although he did manage to get some of the maidens to cush, he didn’t really seem to be “into it” like he usually is.  I started leading him out of the pen, when he stopped and sniffed at a “pile” and decided to drop and roll on top of it.  It was right then that I saw something, for a split second that did not look right.at.all.

I led him up to the house in search of a flashlight, being such a dark male, I could not see anything wrong with him when he was standing normally.  The flashlight revealed what I thought I had seen, Our stud male had a laceration and his penis was hanging out a couple of inches before where it should be hanging out!  We were absolutely shocked! How on earth did he manage this?!!  We are adamant about checking for fighting teeth, so that wasn’t it, we checked of fences for wires sticking out, our fences are to high for anyone to even think about jumping them, and getting caught up… very mysterious.  We had been shearing earlier in the day, so we led him into the shearing area and used the tie downs to investigate further.  Upon further inspection, it seemed as though this wasn’t a brand new wound, and in fact everything seemed to have healed up….and he didn’t seem to be in terrible pain remarkably.  We took some photos and consulted some vets, this was not something anyone had really seen before.  We even emailed the photos to our friends in Australia, their vets had never seen this either, and none of us could figure out how he managed it!   Our vet said that the regular opening for his penis was sealed up and all scar tissue, so “putting it back” wasn’t really a great option.

Of course this would be our champion black male, the one we bought specifically for our grey and black breeding program *sigh* Well we did get 2 years worth of crias from him, and this will undoubtedly make them more special to us, but it is still disappointing.  Turbo used to settle the females right away, and they usually caught on the first breeding, he was always ready to go!   Well the desire is still there for Turbo, but he is unable to “extend himself” properly due to his injury, poor guy!  The search is on for a Solid (built like a tank) Black male, with excellent fleece characteristics, that can stamp his crias as well as Turbo did. It will be another year or two before his male offspring will be able to take over.

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Propane on the Mend

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A few days before Christmas, I went in the Mum’s and Babies Barn to check on everyone, and throw down some extra kibble, when I discovered our Turbo cria “Propane” was standing perfectly still, not heading towards the feed with everyone … Continue reading

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