Friday, 2 October 2009

Autumn is here

We were woken up at about 3 a.m. this morning by Jake barking his head off. He is usually very good at night, so Mike got up and let him out.

He then came back in to me and got me out of bed too as he could hear strange noises in our fifth paddock. We have recently weaned some cria and all six are in that paddock. We were really worried in case some sort of predator (fox?) was worrying or hurting them.

As luck would have it the moon was covered in cloud so it was very dark and we had to rely on a torch to show the way. We took all the dogs with us and they were clearly excited by the noises which increased as we got nearer.

Thank goodness the cria were agitated but obviously not involved. No - it was Alario and two lady visitors. He was very excited and was chasing them both up and down in his paddock. All three of them were extremely stressed and the girls were on the point of trying to jump out over the fence. We left the dogs in an impressive down stay outside the paddock and went in to try and sort things out. It was fairly farcical in hind-sight. We were both in our wellies and terry towellling bathrobes, running around waving a torch and trying to head off a very determined Alario. Eventually we managed to get the gate to the next paddock open at the right moment to let one then the other female alpaca out.

Why were they in together anyway, you might be asking. Well Emilia and Imogen seem to have some hormone problems. They both act like males to the extent of getting sexually excited with other females. Both of them reject the attentions of males and we have not been able to get them pregnant even by holding them to try and make them submit to mating. Not a thing we would do lightly as we try as far as possible to go with nature rather than forcing things. Emilia has been estrumated, which involves a very quick injection with a drug which in effect induces labour in a pregnant female but causes any blockages such as an unfertilised egg in the tubes of a non pregnant female to be cleared to make it more likely that she will conceive.

We scanned all the girls this week and unsurprisingly found that both Emilia and Imogen were empty (not pregnant) despite a forced mating. We decided that they would have to be written off as breeding females, but as a last resort, Nick suggested that if they were put into a paddock with a male (Alario drew the short straw) they might be stimulated by his maleness and change.

At first all seemed calm apart from a few sniffing sessions around each other's tails and noses, and so we felt that it would be worth leaving them to see if time would convert the girls from their gay lifestyle. As you see from the above, the fairy tale ending did not materialise for us, although it probably has for Emilia and Imogen. We shall probably sell them together as they are unlikely to find many like-minded alpacas - although more may come out if they have these girls as role models.

Although the cria had not been hurt in the night, it re-inforced my earlier fears for the safety of the littlies all alone in the furthest paddock from the house, so today we moved them to the top paddock which they apparently adore. They galloped in and started grazing on the lush fresh grass immediately and then had a skittish run round before finally settling down to their new life.

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