Sorry but for the next few weeks this maybe somewhat hijacked by Dog Breeding 🙂
T-14 days and the whelping box has arrived and is installed so Kestrel can get used to it and be comfortable. Also purchased the first 200 absorbent pads and Hannah bought us puppy collars months ago in preparation
Briefly on the alpaca front we’ve wormed the herd as a precaution despite very low to zero counts as we hadn’t needed to worm for over a year.
Young Dolan - 2 months - gave us cause for concern on Weds when he was a little listless and anaemic - he seems much brighter fortunately but we are still awaiting results on bloods.
Whilst I’ve been assembling “beds” and entertaining ramblers who wanted a talk on Alpacas today Kathryn has been visiting Amanda at Florens Alpacas for a good catch up and look at her lovely herd
As winter approaches delighted to look out from our new Log Cabin onto lots of lush green grass - when 2 months ago everything was parched. Now looking forward to the Yorkshire show in 3 weeks time.
We just got back yesterday afternoon from a wonderful 4 nights away with our very dear friends Brian and Jane - our first proper break since the first week of January.
Went out to see all the Alpacas on a beautiful autumnal afternoon - many thanks to Hannah Julie and Jane for looking after them all so well in our absence - they are looking fab.
The start of the attached gallery of photos hopefully highlights one of the key components of our breeding programme here - conformation. Both Shadow and Cosmic regularly produce strong boned, broad chested cria over our wide selection of females. Head style is also important and we’re particularly delighted this year to have had 14/15 black cria. Looking in the paddock some of the youngsters look very brown, like the pic of Inglis, but he’s truly black 🙂
In the last pic you’ll see Merlin being weighed. In the first few weeks of every Crias life we weigh them very regularly and only relax this when we are happy they are gaining weight at a consistently good rate. It won’t be that long now before we start thinking about weaning the earliest born as they approach 5-6 months and top 30kgs.
Kathryn’s job this morning, while I’m running a small Alpaca Encounter, is to watch for poos and do some random sampling. We are mildly concerned by the consistency of some but avoid worming for worming sake.
Before we went away we did the last of the scheduled spit offs of the summer. We are happy that all mated females are holding their pregnancies thus far. Over time we have come to understand the different natures and habits of our pregnant girls. This means we are likely to spot if any of they have lost going forwards. In reality were this to happen now we wouldn’t remate anyway as it’s too late in the year.
Away from the Alpacas again I am delighted to report that our 3 year old black lab Kestrel is pregnant and is six weeks gestation now. She is really beginning to show the physical signs and enjoying extra food rations! She and Lily came with us to South Yorkshire and had a wonderful time too, walking around (and in) various reservoirs. Now she has less than 3 weeks to go - amazing when the Alpacas take up to 12 months typically!
Well there’s some rather important Golf started on the TV now - until the next time ... See moreSee less
Where does the time go? September already yet we’re still awaiting our final birth, having started back in April! We’ve been incredibly busy with the herd here, having grown to over 50 Alpacas - what with births, agistment animals and some here for mating and sale on behalf of friends. Add to that c2000 miles of mobile matings, the progression of our Alpaca Encounters business and the completion of ground works here at Hillfield and its fair to say we’ve not really come up for air.
Birthing and watching the young cria develop has to be the most special time of the year for an alpaca breeder. Seeing the results of planned matings is so exciting. Of course occasionally the results aren’t quite what we expect but overall we’re delighted. As ever we’ve had more boys than girls but that’s par for the course 🙂
The summer had gone so well save the still birth I mentioned last time but then life came back to bite us as it so often can. 2 weeks ago we lost a very special cria to a liver issue we’re still yet to receive final details of. He went downhill so quickly - supported by our brilliant vets we did all we could but lost him. Incredibly within a week Kathryn then became concerned about one of our nursing mums. Again assisted by David and the team at Intake Vets we tested, treated and did all we could. Ultimately The Secret was put to sleep on Thursday and investigations showed a tumorous liver. Scandi, her 2 month old cria was “lost” for a short while but we have her eating well now and still gaining weight consistently.
We are now convinced the 2 losses are unrelated and horribly coincidental - for a while we had feared we faced a significant issue for the whole herd.
Alpaca Breeding has so many highs - they do completely outweigh the lows - but it can be tough to remember that for a brief while. The support we always receive from those closest to us is a massive help. And over the past few days we’ve been completing routine husbandry with the whole herd - being around them all is the best therapy.
I mentioned the numbers of Alpacas here above and this is something we have to manage keenly. We sold 3 pet boys recently and another 3 who were purchased much earlier in the year will be leaving for their new home soon. However we have also created a sales list of pregnant females and hope to find some new homes for them soon.
Aside from the Alpacas the ground works here are now complete and the grass seed sown and growing. The garden fence is under construction and we have a small hedgerow to plant. At times the project seems never ending! That said we could not be happier here in our new home, on site with our animals.
Kestrel had a re mating with Dexter the Stud 2 weeks ago. You may remember she didn’t take earlier in the year but fingers crossed she’ll have pups in mid October.
And looking ahead - we have Westmorland Show next week, visitors from Scotland the following weekend and then a four day break in the Peak District before the end of the month.
Right time to go and feed Scandi - pics are of her (standing) and wee Nordic who we sadly lost. ... See moreSee less