Thursday, 10 January 2008

January comes in with a vengeance

It is blowing a gale with driving rain just to add to the fun. Walking the dogs this morning took on a new dimension because I was singing at the top of my voice confident that nobody could hear me over the noisy weather and the dogs had the wind under their tales and did not stop running - possibly to get away from my singing - but I think just because they found the wind very exciting.

The alpacas are nowhere to be seen from the office window this morning. They are lying down by hayracks, behind shelters and in the hedges. After heavy rain they look really bedraggled and I used to worry that the rain would chill them, but the top layer of fleece seems to form a sort of thatch and just just below the surface they are as dry as can be. The cria are a bit more of a worry as their fleece is ultra fine (bearing in mind that alpaca fleece on the adults is very fine anyway) because it is more effective in keeping out the cold. It also makes it more prone to being blown open by the wind. Female alpacas are very good mothers and usually club together to shelter the cria and protect them from the worst of the wind.

We were planning to do a foot check on the herd tomorrow and cut their toenails as well as giving the cria an extra vitamin injection but it looks as though it will have to be postponed for a day or two. We normally carry out husbandry in the barn but injecting wet animals is not recommended and they will have to go through a certain amount of mud to get to the barn which makes toenail clipping a messy and slow job.

We used to do all the husbandry tasks at the same time, i.e. condition checks,vaccinations, worming, toenails and vitamins but we now only carry out one task at a time. The alpacas get used to being handled more often and because they are only in the barn for a very short time they are not at all stressed. In fact when they are free ranging they will sneak in to steal hay if we leave the doors open.

I am off to a dog agility competition tomorrow. I'll let you know how we get on. I am driving all the way to Chorley near Preston. I know it is mad but I have two dogs that I am trying to win with and the more chances they get, the better the odds.

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