Fortunate to discover this “foreign body” in the gullet of a 10 day cria just now. Having put on 1.5kg in 7 days he lost over half of that in the last 2! I tried topping him up with a bottle this evening but he was evidently uncomfortable. I put my little finger deep into his mouth to check his palate and got “spiked”. With Hannah Shrimpton ably holding him I managed to remove it. He instantly suckled from the bottle but I then took him to mum and he took lots more. Vindication for us that we weigh cria daily for at least 2 weeks - but just hugely relieved He’s had a small dose of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory and we’re hopeful he’ll go back to his previous progression straight away. Always learning :) ... See moreSee less
So yesterday, when I started writing this, it should have been Northumberland County Show including our favourite alpaca event of the year. Instead I’ve been on cria watch whilst Kathryn has been busy planting. The weather has been fab – last year it was horribly wet – the law of the sod!!
Amongst so many other things we are missing all our friends in the alpaca community and the show would have been a great chance to catch up with many. That said the 2 local alpaca groups have both put on great webinars recently, to inform us of course, but it’s been great to see everyone on Zoom and see all the hairstyles??
In recognition of some of our friends I wanted to focus this blog on the joy we get hearing about births around the country, particularly when our studs have been involved. I appreciate some are still awaiting their first cria and will likely be envious – sorry! In my last blog I referred a lot to Tumby our first – well we had to wait more than a month for our next but we’ve had 5 in the last 7 days – cria heaven.
The first “outside” births we heard of were both at Capital Alpacas. The mating date was 29th May 2019, very close to Congleton - a week before our family all returned there for Jack and Becky’s wedding! The brown male was pretty early but none the worse as you can see. He is surprisingly dark with his mum Mini and dad was Mountbatten, our fawn. A black female followed a week later and is typically Cosmic blue black, out of Poppet, also black. Kim and Stuart at Capital Alpacas are now the proud owners of Cosmic.
Despite the boys visit to Bushblades in County Durham having been 2 weeks earlier than Congleton the first birth there was much later. However, it was the first grey we’ve been involved with, the supremely handsome Emperor. Mum, Charisma, is grey and sire was Shadow. And then it was nearly another two weeks later that Ann Muizelaar had her first female born. Empress was sired by Mountbatten over Cleopatra.
Next is a much darker, but similarly handsome male, again by Mountbatten over Twilight (black), the first actual birth at Dargan Alpacas owned by Debra Steward. You might see Raisin needed plasma but is going from strength to strength now. Debra has also bought an assortment of colours from Patou and Reddingvale and is looking forward to more births very soon
Helen and Alan at Merryoaks Alpacas, in the Borders, welcomed the first male to their herd within the last week. They have selected a number of black females from different herds and last year had 3/3 females. This fella weighed in at over 10kg and was out of Rio (brown), sired by Cosmic.
Then finally, for now, Debbie Harris at Woodborough Alpacas (Notts) announced the arrival of another black cosmic male, to her brown Coco. Poor Coco has since been poorly but is now up and feeding the wee man well.
It’s great to see the “rainbow” of colours and see the joy these births bring to, mainly, very new owners. There are many more cria still in the oven too, in Cheshire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Scotland.
Here we have 3 girls already pregnant for 2021 and another 3 in the “spit off” process. Later this week we are starting our 2020 mobile services, with Shadow and Mountbatten still in the van and this year they are joined by our new black herd sire Houghton Savoy. He is already enjoying “working” with 2 confirmed pregnancies.
For those not involved with Alpacas we leave the maidens until their 2nd Spring to mate them. Mum’s who have unpacked (birthed) normally, are happy to see the stud 2 weeks later. With gestation being 11-12 months typically, this means the mums birth around the same time every year. Of course, for the first 6 months or so of their new pregnancy they are feeding a cria too!
A brief update re here – Tumby is now 6 weeks old and has doubled her birth weight. She has 3 new brothers and a sister plus another wee male born to a female on agistment. All births were natural but Truffle did take a while over delivering Kygo – an 11.2kg whopper. Shearing was completed 3 weeks ago and in a weeks’ time 2 pet boys from last year are off to their new forever home.
Family are all great. Jack and Becky’s new sofa finally arrived nearly 2 months late, Hannah is loving her garden, filled with plants she and Kathryn are starting here in the greenhouse. Will is loving life with Murphy, and all at the Military Working Dog Section at Coningsby. It’s Kathryn’s dads 88th birthday next week and my mums 80th in a month. Sadly the Shrimptons were all off to Centre Parcs to celebrate the latter but it is cancelled of course – challenge now is how to celebrate in other ways??
Hope you enjoy all the cria pics – stay safe and sane all x ... See moreSee less
Well life in the alpaca world is no respecter of lockdown and this past week has been manic!
A week ago I proudly posted about our first cria arrival – a bonny black female. Mum was a maiden and laid down throughout her labour. The cria was delivered with minimal intervention and all seemed fine. Maternal instinct was as amazing as ever but cria didn’t latch on well. We supplemented as best we could with a good proportion of mums milk, plus cows colostrum from the freezer.
We were fairly happy and thru Saturday saw the cria feeding sporadically but supplemented too. Unfortunately on Sunday morning we became increasingly concerned and ultimately called the vet. Nick, the Equine specialist, was on call and arrived within 30 minutes. He left us in no doubt how poorly she was with a racing heart rate and likely infection. We transfused plasma (that had only arrived a week or so before). IV antibiotics and anti inflammatory drugs were also administered.
Nero Black Tumby, named after the RAF base where Wills’ dog section is sited, has recovered slowly throughout the week. She has been helped by ongoing anti biotics, a few nights in the barn, lots of tlc, double cria coats often and an amazingly patient yet attentive mum. Tumby really turned the corner yesterday, with the odd shuttle run, and today looks pretty normal.
Of course our massive thanks go to the whole team at Intake Vets. While not officially on call David was available with advice and Nick was incredibly thorough, informative and of course effective!
With 2 more cria imminent and another 14 due over the next 3 months we can only hope for things to be more simple.
Aside from caring for Tumby, and mum Rumour, we’ve been busy with regular husbandry and routine vaccinations. Add to that paddock cleaning, feeding, fence repairs etc the alpacas keep us busy.
And then I nearly forgot! Yesterday was a landmark day when Houghton Savoy – our new 2 year old Herdsire completed his first mating – a 20 minute “engagement” with Sheriff Arizona, a youngster we bought a year ago. He was “inspired” by Nero Black Shadow who was simultaneously covering Patou Kambuzi – another young addition bringing Toft Timogen genetics to our evolving herd.
Of course it will be good news when Savoy can join Shadow, Mountbatten (and me) on our stud tours this summer – when restrictions ease!!
Aside from working with our herd, I’ve had another project on the bubble too. Understandably all Spring Alpaca Shows have been cancelled and our treasured Alpaca Section at the popular Northumberland County Show in May is also a casualty. With the help of Kathryn and, most notably, Paul and Debbie Rippon at Barnacre Alpacas (we run the North East and Borders Alpaca Group together) we have created a new Alpaca Show to be staged at Hexham Mart on 31st October.
There will be a huge amount of work still to be done and we we need things to normalise, somewhat, in the wider community of course. The team at the Mart have been so supportive, as have the British Alpaca Society and our Judge Tim Hey.
Everyone involved is hoping that this initiative will give lots of alpaca breeders, and all enthusiastic lovers of alpacas, something new to look forward to.
In other news, daughter Hannah continues to work lots of hours answering 999 calls – fortunately whilst staffing is under pressure the number of calls up here are sensible. Jack and Becky are loving their new home but desperate to equip it fully and show it off to family and friends. Will has returned to his RAF base, after extended leave, when he should have been in Portugal with Lois and her family.
I’ve been in touch with my family down south and all seems fine. Kathryns mum and dad are doing well in difficult circumstances and today celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary - exactly double the celebration Kathryn and I enjoyed 2 weeks ago.
Well I’m off to cook our first barbecue of the year – have a great weekend everyone. ... See moreSee less