Monthly Archives: June 2015
Crazy right now
are definitely the words for here – its manic. We are being invited with the Alpaca everywhere and we simply cannot please everybody all of the time – especially if its short notice. Alpaca walks and visits here are busy and with the Summer holidays a few weeks away, we are pleased that we have 14 cria down already with more to come.
Ratio 8 girls to 6 boys at the moment so we will see what the final tally is.
caption “that looks nasty!”
and another girl, only this time “morphed” – they do like their bald ground patches for rolling!
No point saying crazy busy – it just is! Cria being born all the time now and lambivac for those old enough, husbandry to keep on top off as well as farm visits!
Our new Testimonials on the homepage is just a small selection of visitors to Kensmyth who have been inspired by our Alpaca!
We have some gorgeous colours this year and our second lot of Alpaca Yarn is back from the mill which once again we are delighted with. Two down, two to go and we have some exciting news ahead with that. We have used The Natural Fibre company since 2008 and are always delighted with the end result. Few realise that if you do not do the work at the outset then what you get back is rubbish. You need to first be producing decent fleece, then once shorn you need to remove all the legs, neck, belly, tail etc and only send to the mill the best of the blanket for yarn you want to represent the quality of your home produced products. So not worry, the other parts can be used for other homemade Alpaca products but NOT for your best yarn.
Our latest black/brown mix is outstanding and we already have orders for 5 mens jumpers in it!
wow – 5 days since I last blogged. Has it really been that long and sooo much has happened I have barely sat down. We have some amazing Cria here this year, so much so that I think I am going to release some darker girls that I would otherwise have kept in my breeding plan and keep the Girl Cria from 2015 which are much lighter than I would normally work with! Watch this space.
Certainly from our closed herd, badger fenced and no mobile matings, all of our Alpaca are highly sought after!
First of all we have a stunning cria from one of our maidens, she immediately abandoned it but they got together in the end as our Visitors saw – note we do not let newborn cria be held by Visitors, this cria when held was much older – see the size difference below! our cria tally is now even stevens with boys to girls at 12 and still rising but more piccies another day…
then we have to have old faithful our Massey with the flail topper in full action right now… you remember the song “don’t let the grass grow under your feet” well its true…
and then a word on “our breech” – they are doing fine. Not many Alpaca can say they have Australian shearers coming out just to do their own “pedicure and haircut”
ShearCo, Mike Banks team are coming out shortly to finish our large herd with our Breech girl who could not have been done at the time – thanks Mike and Teams!
With the temperatures hitting nearly 30 degrees out here in the Cotswolds, not a good time to be in full fleece!
Well I am so far behind on blogging it is unreal. surreal and all good words like that! Where were we? Well the cria are all doing really well and our little Breech premmie took us all by surprise this week. She has overtaken the other cria and gone from 6.8kg to a stonking 10.6kg and will only be 2 weeks old on Friday. Good old mum, some Alpaca are priceless and that one is a real “Super Trouper” – the fleece is outstanding and the wonky legs getting less and less by the day.
I am a real believer in letting Mother Nature take its course with livestock where legs are concerned. I consulted my Vet to ensure we were on the same page about plastering but legs on the so young rarely do not eventually right themselves and yet if you plaster, few forget the strain put onto the alternative leg which, sadly, often can break too. So little wonky legs is doing just fine and has been named.
I am MILES behind on registering cria but Alpaca Walking Visitors on Friday and Sunday last have come up with some super names which are not yet registered on The British Alpaca Society so there will be a few surprises there for sure.
no themed cria naming this year – just Visitor Naming!
So with all good news – there is always bad. Sadly that is life. I had to do a presentation today and I really struggled to hold it together… This week has seen us lose in the last few days two “family” members, one someone I have known a lifetime and much admired, may he rest in peace and his family know how much love I can send and the other the brother of a very close friend of mine who died in the early hours this morning. It was a very short illness and he was severely disabled at the end and my heart was certainly with his family today.
Many of my regular readers know how hard I try to help make life easier for those less fortunate than ourselves and today was an exceptionally difficult day for me, with a sad passing the day before yesterday and one in the early hours this morning. When I walked round to check my Alpaca herd at 4.3o am this morning, in a very cold wind, my heart was full of sadness.
meantime to lift the mood – can you spot the Breech mum – clue is still unshorn!!
Amongst the hectic past weeks, we have our new brochure being prepared. We work six months ahead with our product lines, just like the fashion industry and our models have had some fun in bikini wear in the cold spring this year preparing the brochure. This year we have a sponsor for our brochure which is fantastic – more on that another day.
meantime, the first batch of 2014 fibre natural yarn has just come back from the Mill and we are delighted with it. So delighted we whipped up an example of what is to come for our Winter Holiday 2015 collection…
I managed to put together some photographs of the breach birth of exactly one week ago today. Into the pouring rain she started in labour at the same time as another female. A seasoned girl with several cria behind her and no complications previously. WARNING I have deliberately set this out in order (obviously I was attending to the Alpaca so not in actual order) to go below – so if you are squeamish do not read this at all or skip to the end please.
controversially, perhaps I should not put this on a blog and continue to let everyone think that farming Alpaca is just petting furry creatures with big eyes but farming is not like that. it is a 24/7 round the clock role 365 days a year and “with live stock, there is always dead stock”. Hopefully this will give a better insight into the actual care needed for Alpaca and other livestock farming. Always expect the unexpected and you will do fine.
The female started in labour lying sideways as in previous births. Another Alpaca started in labour at pretty much the same time and also the heavens opened so I knew it was going to be busy.
The female took herself off to be alone and that was when the first warning bells went off in in my head – this was a female who liked to birth “amongst friends”. Ironically I took a phone call from my Vet at precisely that time to give me some results over the phone (all normal) and I said to her then “are you on call later as I am thinking I might have a breech starting”… I spoke to her today and she said “you were right then”
Alpaca always take different times for the first stage of labour so you cannot say “it is xx hours” not ever – they are all individual. I had noted she had started in her first signs of labour properly around the 2 hour mark from onset but I was with the pair the whole time (the other mother gave birth naturally to a stunning boy which we will talk about another day) and they were very different females.
I gave her a little longer but she started kicking her legs at the back and wanting to get wet. neither were unusual for this female but I was not happy and my years of living with my previous Vet partner had always taught me to “investigate first not last” if in doubt.
So with my son holding her head, I gently with lube (right of photo) investigated her internally and sure enough found that I was feeling a bottom not a nose and feet as I should have been. At this point I must say that Alpaca uterine walls are far more delicate than those of horses/cattle/sheep and I have large hands. I knew that I could not help her and called my vet immediately who arrived some 30 minutes later.
At this point, she had been rolling in agony now and time was running out for both her and the cria. PLEASE do not scroll down if squeamish.
There can be no sedation for the Alpaca at this point and one has to be aware that the cria has to be pushed back inside the Alpaca in order to be able to try to turn the cria. This causes the legs to rupture the uterine walls and blood literally pours out with every attempt. No vet can keep their arms in continually and there is not much space in there.
once the placenta has been ruptured, the cria has little chance of survival and the mother also has high risk of dying from shock or infection.
The Alpaca seemed to understand we were trying to help but it seemed we would be unable to remove the cria at all at one point and we were discussing euthanasing the female. if you cannot get the cria out (dead or alive) the mother would die.
We had already varied the methods of restraining the female and all three of us gave it one last attempt which was rewarded with the cria being pulled out by its hind legs. please note that assisting all the time, obviously these shots are only taken intermittently in “breathing space” and are for the benefit of “wannabee alpaca owners” to see it is not just plain sailing!
At first it seemed the cria was dead as it was so “blue” around the gills but after towelling to stimulate and draining fluid off the lungs, it was clearly alive and needed time and its mother – who also needed incentive not to give up. no romancing here, its a fact – they needed each other.
You have to appreciate the time that passed while all of this was going on and an eternity before the mother even raised her head. the cria was kept warm and at this point we could only hope. meantime practical issues would kick in – we were at the end of a long field with night setting in, two alpaca covered in blood both cold and wet which would bring its own issues.
The cria was coated and as little interference as possible given whilst the mother tried to raise herself off the ground and give it the support it needed. Bonding needed to happen and once pain relief and antibiotics had been administered, the vet departed and I was left with the essential needs of these two; along with the rest of the herd.
but they were alive and the next 24 – 48 hours would tell.
Eventually the mother raised herself from the ground in a colossal effort and the cria and her bonded naturally, if in a bit of a macabre state.
I cannot tell you how long it took before we were able to get the mother and cria into the barns, one step at a time with ten minute rests in between but eventually it was done and at this point I can advise the cria was premature of only 10 months and two weeks gestation. Hence its legs simply could not hold it and essential colostrums were getting crucial so were given by bottle.
As night continued, we held the cria on several occasions to encourage it to suckle from its mother and she certainly had the will to survive. Then the slight matter of cleaning them without getting them cold.
or upsetting the newly bonded pair. The cria was blow dried to warm it and dry the coat which otherwise would have dried naturally by this point.
I do not need to tell you that it was a very long 48 hours before we sensed the pair would make it – and it is still early days – and the legs of the cria are strengthening daily. She drinks from her mother and with her mum having a radical hair cut to remove all staining we are on constant alert still for infection and fly strike amongst other things.
The cria has the advantage of the only mother with a fleece at the moment as shearing took place on the Sunday after the breach on the Friday – no way could the mother be shorn – so the heat at the moment is taking its toll but our shearers will come out as soon as we feel she is able to be shorn. fingers crossed still but I end this blog with a “happier” pair photo!
I have to apologise that I have not had time to sort through photos of events referred to in previous blogs – I have had a fantastic Black Girl cria born early afternoon and it took all morning to sort in the heat. closely followed in 28 degrees by serious concerns about dehydration … it is all very well folk thinking “it must drink within xx amount of hours” but the cria must not dehydrate in the meantime! Maiden mothers are inclined to abandon their cria if they seem lifeless so whilst not intervening, one must always play safe with shade and a watchful eye!
so with 9 cria on the ground now we currently have 5 girls and 4 boys in the tally so far…
thank you to all of those expressing concern about the “breach pair” – fingers crossed but so far so good
meantime, an Alpaca cria selfie with Mitchell!
I promise I will put up the blogs previously mentioned as soon as I get a minute to sort the photos. in the meantime you will recall our sturdy marquees for all events? here seen with one of my lovely old girls (in the background are the Marquees) who has just produced a super brown girl…
well with the winds yesterday we seriously thought the Marquees were going parachuting… but they have a “failsafe” mechanism of quick side removal and dropping to short levels…
so Mr Wind could blow all he liked (and he did) but he could not blow our short Marquees down!
Normal “tall service” will be resumed shortly now the weather has improved!
So where is the “mothering instincts” I hear you ask?
Well, for those of you expecting Alpaca mothers to love their cria and bring them out of the rain…
how is this for a spectacular example of why not to rely on them??!!
lucky I always coat the cria!!!!
well, time has flown and this time it has been a challenge that could end with an unhappy ending.
closely following a retained placenta we have had 4 more cria in close succession and one of them breach.
Anyone in farming knows this is serious for both mother and cria and we are on permanent watch as always for the first signs of infection … the good news is that both are currently alive and well and BEA from the Vet practice was sterling in the rain last Friday. when I put the blog up please do not read it if you are squeamish – you have been warned.
Shearing went well this week end and with the weather now torrential and windy, June 1st is showing how climate change can seriously affect herd management. some task getting 50 plus Alpaca into the barns on Saturday and the lads were great, hubby helped up and down with hurdles but more on the shearing another day. Fab fleeces. Thanks to ShearCo for another great job.
Meantime, someone asked me what my favourite vegetable was the other day and although nothing to do with Alpaca whatsoever (all photos will follow shortly on the above) I thought I would share it with you…
Romanescu. Simples. Fantastic colour, nutty cabbage like taste, easy to cook in 2 minutes flat and looks great on a plate.