Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Green Green Grass of Home

Where is it?   Usually at this time of year we are struggling to keep the paddocks grazed and even start topping the grass but because of the lack of rain the grass is looking greener and, therefore, more nourishing, but it is not growing as much as we would like and some of the paddocks have more nettles than grass. 

After shearing we kept the main herd in the barn over night for a few days as it was so cold and the wind was bitter.   They soon got used to not having their big woolly coat and the fleece has started to grow back.  Because of the lack of grass in the home paddocks the main herd has gone back down to the winter paddocks where the grass is better and more plentiful.  The Chardstock 6 - the alpacas from the village who have over wintered with us - have been booked in for a further six months whilst their owners re-seed and drain their own paddock.  Today we set up a make shift catch pen around the shelter in their field because we have to drive the girls from the bottom paddock through theirs when we need to bring them in for husbandry.   We have been shifting them to a paddock, moving the girls and then swapping them all round again when the girls return.  The new pen will mean than we can just pop them in it for a short while whilst we move the others.   This will save us a lot of time and walking.

We bought a young intact male with stud potential,.   Dreamfield Kilawasi Spirit, and he was delivered on Sunday.   We normally quarantine incoming animals but we did not want to stress him by putting him in a paddock on his own and we felt that Ben, our old wether, would be upset if moved from his present companions and would probably cause more stress rather help alleviate it.  In the end we decided to put him with Javier, the young male we are running on in the hope he will be another herd shire when he is older.  In effect they will both be in quarantine but luckily they seem to love each other and move around grazing together and lie down together.  There is no shelter in their paddock but we have opened up the horse box we use for transporting alpacas so that they can use that.   So far they have not done so, but Javier is quite a softy so I am sure he will make use of it if we get any wet and windy weather.

Sadly when we had the girls in for a routine check, we noticed that one of last year's weanlings had a huge swelling on her lower jaw.   She had an abcess which we emptied and a huge amount of puss came out.  I gave her an injection of long acting anti-biotic but having looked up the condition in my alpaca book, I am going to call the vet in to advise.  These things can be quite serious.

Having had a long run of not needing the vet we seem to be due for  a bad run.   Bono is still very thin even though he is eating well and is behaving quite normally.  J J (vet) came out to see him last week because we were concerned that his stomach was bloated.   Bloat  is unheard of in alpacas but this is what it appears to be.  As you know we have been battling his weight loss for some months now.    On the vet's advice we treated him for ulcers with antepsin which is basically a coating for the stomach lining  to decrease the acid.   This certainly worked to a certain degree because he no longer acts like a sick animal but he is not a pretty sight.  He was sheared on the 10th May and did not appear to have a swollen stomach then.

JJ was at a bit of a loss given his history but after a bit of brain storming he came up with suggestion that we give him pro rumen for a few days.   This is a medication that should get his digestion working properly again.
JJ has some with him and I already had some in stock so when I phoned to report that there was only a very slight improvement we decided to continue for a few more days.  It is possible that the Antepsin, whilst reducing acidity which helps the ulcer problem, may have upset the balance of gut flora.  You cannot win, can you?

Apart from the above, we are very pleased with the condition of all the alpacas.  Although we do hands on condition checking on a regular basis throughout the winter you cannot beat seeing a naked alpaca for identifying any problems which may have been hidden by the fleece.

Ginger gave birth to a stunning male cria on Sunday and Moonstone also gave birth to a male on Tuesday just as we were showing a potential customer round.  He is very big compared to Ginger's boy.  That is 1 female and 2 males so far.   We have been very lucky in the past with more girls than boys but it looks as though our luck might have changed this year, although to be fair, Ginger has never had a female cria.  That seems quite strange given that it is said that the male has most influence on the sex of the progeny.  I will be doing the rounds with the camera shortly.

When I took Dolly (the pup) for her second vaccination I discussed Romie's future with Tessa, (the vet) and we decided that we would inject her to prevent her coming into season during the agility competition season and this would give me time to decide whether or not to have her spayed.   Since I don't intend to breed from her again, however, I have decided to go ahead with the operation now.   She is going in tomorrow and I am really worried.  It is classed as "routine" surgery but that does not make me feel any better.  Probably a better option than her eloping and coming home pregnant.

Most of the does are looking very pregnant indeed.   We have not experienced kidding before so we are hoping that there will be no complications this year.  If not we might have to call in the trusty Nick.  He did not come in for his day's work last week because he had 'flu and this week he couldn't come because he had a bad back.  There is lots of work for him so we are hoping he will be fit by next Tuesday when he is due again.

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