Monday, 28 April 2008

Spring is here

At least now we are getting a few fine days and the showers are warmer if just as wet.

We are just embarking on our spring programme of mating the alpacas. Over a period of time we are aiming to close the period of birthing. Alpacas are induced ovulators and can be mated and give birth all year round. This is fine except that it means for a small herd the owners are tied from April to September waiting for births which can be anything from a fortnight early to a month late.

We are hoping by next year that all our females will give birth between April and June. This has two advantages - as well as convenience it enables the cria to have all summer to eat well and prepare themselves for the English winter.

We now have two working stud males, Bono and Alario, and a third, Pedro who is nearly old enough and certainly has the right attitude. We are also expecting a white male from Chile shortly - he is called Laurel's Don Chale and is three years old.

Alario produced mainly female cria last year ( 5 out of 7) and we are hoping he will prove just as successful this year. He has already covered Cleopatra (our champion brown female) and Moonstone, another female who produces excellent progeny.

Saphire and Claribel have already had cria this year and as they can be remated 15 - 17 days after birthing, Bono will be visiting Claribel. Saphire (herself a reserve brown female champion) gave birth to a stunning black cria this year and I am hoping that she will be covered by the same male again. He is a stud male from an all black herd and has champion status.

The main problem with outside matings at the present is the blue tongue restrictions. The male we want Saphire to go to is in the protection zone and we are in the surveillance zone. No animals can leave the protection zone, so she would not be able to come back if she went courting!!

We are still waiting for Amethyst to give birth - she is well overdue now and we have two more due at the beginning of May.

The two new mothers and the three due immininently have been coming into the barn at night during the unsettled weather and the are so used to it now that we don't even have to call them. When they think it is bed time they wander up from the paddock and go into the barn on their own. If their dinner is not there they start humming, which is a recognised alpaca noise.

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