Saturday, 28 July 2012

Leaving Us

Santiago, Santos and Vidal just off to their new home.      They have never been loaded into a trailer before, but after a small question as to whether it was their best option,   they went in quite happily.  

They are going to live in a very smart paddock and when they arrived they remained lying in the kush position in the trailer for a few moments before casually leaving the trailer to explore their new abode.

They have been living with all our other males since they were weaned last year and so for the past week or so we separated them from their usual companions to get them used to being a smaller herd of three.   They have adjusted very well and we took the opportunity to remind them how to walk nicely on a halter and also to being held more often than we actually needed to.  Within a couple of days they were completely relaxed so that when we trimmed their toe nails and gave them a worming injection before departure they more or less just shrugged their shoulders and said OK get on with it!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Not Going Right

Yesterday Nick and I  got together to carry out fairly basic husbandry - mainly vaccinating, microchipping and tagging cria.  First of all we selected Ginger's cria.  We did not tag or chip her last week as we felt she was a little small.   She trotted into the catch pen with her Mum and we shooed Ginger through so that they could see each other but giving us easy access to the cria without Ginger interfering.  I had prepared the microchip and Nick set up the tagger with ear tag.  Whilst he held the cria I thought I would check that the needle which holds the chip was secure on the dispenser.  Somehow I knocked the protective cover off  and managed to gouge the top of my left index finger.   It just would not stop bleeding, so Nick had to get a plaster from the first aid box so that we could continue. 

When he came to hold Valentine (we are nearly at the end of the Shakespearian heroines when naming the newborn) - she was extremely stressed and worried about being kept away from her mother for so long, so we decided to tag her and leave the microchipping for another day.   At least we can identify her even if she gets separated from her mother.  We decided to do the same with the other cria too as they are all a little small and there is no rush as they will be on the farm for at least another few months.

Vaccinating is normally subcutaneous (under the skin) and you make a tent with loose skin, usually just in front of the front shoulder, so that the vaccine goes into the cavity created.  I am usually pretty accurate and quick at this, but of course it went wrong with one of the littlies yesterday and the needle came out the other side of the "tent" and squirted the vaccine on the floor, so the poor thing had to have a second one, which went to plan.

Earlier in the day we had put Chale back in with the working males including Pedro who can be quite a full on bully at times.  I forgot that Mike had shut the gates across the bottom of the race so when I took the Mums and babies back down there was a bit of a mix up when they could not get through and the males realised that they were there.   Chale and Pedro started to fight (females have this effect on them).  Jake, Mike's dog, normally breaks up such fights by running in and barking at them.  It is usually very quick and effective and he stops as soon as the males give up.  There were, however, added complications.   Mike did not realise that Jake had decided to act without instructions and so was blissfully unaware of what was going on and continued to tend his bonfire.  In the meantime I opened the gate in the hope that I could rush the girls through before the males realised what was happening.

It was not be be.   The top wire of the fence has been waiting to be added  for quite a while and in the excitement of trying to get to the girls and away from Pedro it looked as if Chale was going to jump out.  Luckily Mike arrived on the scene and chased him back, but Pedro saw his opportunity and jumped out to join the girls.   They all galloped off into the paddock and we just managed to shut Chale out.

None of the females are pregnant because we are not mating them this year.  They will all be covered in the Spring so that the following year we can condense the birthing season.  This meant that Pedro thought he had died and gone to heaven.  We tried to herd Pedro out but he was too excited.   Eventually Mike caught him by the tail and I managed to get to him in time to hold him properly.   Mike then took over whilst I herded the girls into their nice peaceful paddock with the babbling brook.

I made a makeshift halter for Pedro with an old dog lead which we use to pin the gate back and he was put into solitary confirnement to calm down.  Nick and Mike rapidly installed the top wire of the fencing.

What had started out as a routine day with easy jobs turned into a wild (south) west show!!

On a calmer note - the gas men came today and laid the pipe for the supply to our new house.   They, amazingly, could not tell us exactly where the mains pipe is, so we have been unable to dig to it so far.  We now have to get our builder to hand dig the last few metres with very vague guidelines from The utility company.   Apparently they cannot trace plastic pipes like the good old fashioned metal ones!!  You would think they would have a really detailed map so they can find all their pipelines easily, especially with such a dangerous thing as gas!!  Scary isn't it?  The picture just shows the trench, but it is a lovely trench!!

The other photos are of the alpacas relaxing in the shade this afternoon.  Nice work if you can get it in this heat.   Not complaining, honest.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Water Baby

Mariana is a very attractive young female and unfortunately she gave birth to her first cria yesterday on a damp, miserable morning (just a normal summer day this year).  He was quite small but was soon up and suckling so we had no worries apart from the weather.   Some of his Aunties came to welcome him to the herd and have a good sniff so they remember him.

 The forecast locally was for some showers but brighter later.  This did not happen and it looked like the cria was never going to get dry.  I towelled him off when he was born and when the drizzle persisted went back again.   He was wet down to his skin and starting to shiver a little.  I towelled him again and gave him a couple of shots of  Vitaboost which is a glucose/colostrum paste to give him a bit of energy and we quickly prepared the barn so we could get all the alpacas back in once more.

With some alpacas you can just persuade the mother and cria to come inside by carrying the cria to entice the mother in, but Mariana is a bit flighty at the best of times so we thought it would be too stressful for her without the company of the others.

All the females and the 16 cria were happy to go back in the barn.   When I checked later the new cria had managed to find the coldest part  where the straw had been pushed back and so was lying on concrete.  I moved him into the middle with his anxious Mum swearing at me, but they soon settled and this morning he was lovely and dry and playing with the other cria.   They have been out all day today but we have left the barn doors open so they can drift in if they want to.   Quite a few of them have got in the habit of drifting in even if it is not raining.  We have never known them be so keen to find shelter.  I think they are just as fed up as we are with the rain.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

'Nother Newby

Adriana was one of two black females we took to a well known breeder of black alpacas for stud services.  Both she and Jacquenetta, another black female,  failed to conceive the first year and had to have a couple more attempts the second year.  It was poor Mike's job to load them in the trailer and take them back for remating and he was complaining that we  would soon have spent nearly as much on fuel for the truck as for the matings.  Anyway, they finally got pregnant and Jacquenetta had a very nice black female cria and now Adriana has had another nice cria, this time a male.   Still at least we have now got our money's worth, albeit two years later.

We have decided not to use outside stud services again unless it is by swapping with another breeder and letting them use one of our males, because the cost of travelling to and fro for a mating when you might end up with a male which would not even cover the stud fee is just not cost effective.  It is a bit like losing money in a fruit machine.

In the first photo Caquiningora, the Inca name for a type of bird, has only just been born.  (He will probably be called Kacky for short!!)  In the second Adriana is proving how strong the maternal instinct is.  She has just had her very first cria and yet she is immediately protective of the newborn.   She tolerated me towelling the cria dry and spraying his navel, mainly because she was still recovering from the shock of the arrival of the little stranger who dropped out behind her back, but very shortly afterwards she was ready to defend him against all comers and Dolly, who normally herds the alpacas with their reluctant consent, realised that she was not welcome, as you can see from the change in her body language between photo 2 and 3.

In photo 4 all the "aunties" have come to visit.   This nearly always happens when there is a birth.  It is probably so that they register a new herd member.   Shortly after this ( I had taken the camera indoors)  quite a few of the cria gathered round for an introduction as well, but Mum quickly shooed them away, which saved me doing it.  Occasionally older cria can steal the new Mother's colostrum which is vital for her own cria's wellbeing, passing on her immunity to disease and helping to stimulate his immune system.

We have had some poulry netting around our agility training area to keep the grazing animals out, but in the last few days two of the cria have managed to get themselves caught up in it.    We have been careful not to go out and leave them unattended in that area, but decided that even if we are here a youngster could be trapped and even injured before we noticed, so we have taken it down.   The result seems to be that this is now the favourite place for all of them.    Perhaps because they have been kept out, the grass is sweeter.  They are going to have to move on soon so that we can use the area ouselves, but I do not think we will be popular.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wet Wonder

Ginger, my friend Pauline's alpaca gave birth to a very strong female cria at about 8.50 a.m. this morning.   The photos were taken when she was just a few minutes old.   She was up on her wobbly feet very quickly.  Unfortunately it has been a very wet morning and so she was not getting dry.  

Because of the lack of sunlight in recent weeks and months we decided to dose the herd with ADE paste to boost their vitamin D levels.   Ginger was still administering to her new born although she made her walk to get back near the rest of the herd just as we were putting them in the barn.   She needed to rest after that so we got on and dosed all the other females and cria and will give some to Ginger tomorrow.

I had to go out (important date with the hairdresser) and Mike and Nick agreed that the new cria and her Mum should be brought in to the dry.   When I got home I was surprised to see them both still out with the cria still very wet.   Apparently they brought them in, dried the cria off once again but Ginger became very stressed at being shut in without the rest of the herd and tried to demolish the hurdles making up her pen.   They decided that as the weather is warm, even though damp, they are better off with the others outside.

We will probably bring a few of them in tonight to keep Ginger and her baby company so that at least she is 24 hours before having to undergo another soaking.

Monday, 2 July 2012

A Hard Day's Work

Charlie is the most excitable and active of the dogs, but even he has to relax sometimes. Even in his resting position he is off the wall.

The new hens are settling in really well now.   They are getting quite brave and can be seen wandering around the paddocks.   They are quite wimpy and rush for shelter under a trailer or back in their house when it is raining.  They recognize their feed bucket and waddle after me at high speed when they see me carrying it towards their feeder.  Charlie gave them a fright this afternoon.  I was taking him down to our agility practice area and he ran through the little flock at full speed.    They scattered in all directions, but quickly recovered from their fright and allowed him to walk back through without really worrying at all.  No wonder they are easy prey for foxes.  They are far too trusting!!

The cat has been little seen for quite a few weeks but suddenly she has decided to be a home cat again and comes around demanding her dinner and/or milk when it is on offer.  Maybe she is missing the alpacas.   She had made her bed in the straw in the barn where we were housing the herd in the very cold and wet weather.  Now they are out all the time, so probably the barn is not such a warm and friendly haven for the cat.   The old speckled hen is still surviving and she just lives in the barn really.   She comes to the back door every morning to see if there are any titbits and if we are not careful comes into the porch.

Adriana, a solid black female alpaca is overdue for giving birth.   She has been pregnant for 360 days according to my records, so I am beginning to wonder if she is just fat and not pregnant at all.  We did have one female who gave birth at twelve months, so I am not giving up yet.   She spends quite a lot of time lying down on her own, but I don't know if it is because she is feeling uncomfortable with the cria or just being unsociable.  I keep checking up on her, especially as it is still so wet and windy all the time.

We are going to wean the kids soon and will have 6 young bucks for sale.   They are pedigree Angoras who are renowned for their fleece but can also be fattened up for meat or kept as pets.