Kung-Fu Alpaca

On a lighter note, it seems A1 has been secretly training her martial arts skills. Last Sunday we weighed all the girls and cria (we like to do that at least monthly). Some of them don’t like being in close-quarters with people, so some kicking is inevitable (thankfully only 10-20% of our ‘paca kick).

A1 managed to catch me at the pressure-point in the center of the calf. The muscle was sore and occasionally spasming for nearly 24 hours afterwards!  Urk. Who knew they had such great aim?

Continuing Drama

So, the drama of Tizona continues. She improved rapidly at first, the extra milk and electrolytes did wonders. She was gaining weight, but slowly. Then I made a mistake (I think- we are  not 100% sure what went wrong) and last wednesday I decided to increase the size of her feeds. At that point, she was indistinguishable from healthy. I jumped from 240mL feeds to 360 mL feeds- and the next day she presented symptoms of colic. I probably over-fed her, and ended up getting milk in the rumen where it curdled and caused all sorts of problems. Some sodium bicarbonate took care of the cramping, but 16-24 hours of stomach cramps just drained her of energy.

We were back to square one. Lethary, ataxia. More intensive care was required, and while she improved over the weekend, it was clear her energy reserves were still very shallow. Tuesday was a bad day for her, the cold and rainy weather probably did not help. Yesterday I had bloods taken for analysis.

So, some changes of procedure were called for. She and Persil are now in the yards all the time, this way if Tizona does have energy to look for the udder, she does not have to try and find her mother (a difficult task with so many white animals, and with her energy reserves so low). She is also getting bottle fed every 90 miutes, sun-up to sun-down. We are starting to see improvements again, but she still sleeps 20+ hours a day.

And in the midst of all this Ridill managed to get a cut/abrasion on his cornea yesterday! And we are supposed to leave for holiday in two days! Thankfully we have someone who has volunteered to look after Tizona and Persil- she will be working from home to keep watch over her own pregnant girls- so we should be free to depart. Getting TIzona healthier and perkier will be good though, yesterday it could take me 20 minutes to feed her a 200 mL bottle of milk, she was so tired she kept falling asleep during the feed!

First drama of 2009

So, this week we have had our first health-related drama. Tizona, the first cria of the season (from Persil) was clearly crook. The last few weeks her weight gain had slowed down, but she seemed okay otherwise. Monday morning she was lethargic, and standing with her head lolling down by the ground. Not a good sign! I put her in the boot of Tams little car, and shot off to the vet. Julia could hear a little rattle in one lung from a minor respiratory infection.She gave us some antibiotics to make sure she didn’t get any secondary infections, and electrolytes to get her re-hydrated.
We also posted the info of her condition to a alpaca-health mailing lsit we read, and a vet in the US thought it might be neurological (early stage PEM). So we starting giving her vitamin B1, too (since it can’t hurt).

I think the chain of events went like this. Persil (the dam) got a bit wormy and started losing condition. Her milk production also dropped. Tizona was getting a bit malnourished, which made her vulnerable to the respiatory infection. We have treated the mother, and Tizona is getting supplemental food daily until Persil is back to full health. The good news is that 4 days on Tizona is looking much better. She still sleeps lots, and tires quickly,  but if you did not know she was sick, you would not be able to guess that she was sick (if you know what I mean).

So, knock wood, this should all turn out okay. We will just keep up the supplemental feeds, and vitamins/antiobtics as necessary.

The second transport is away

Last Saturday we delivered the other 5 boys (Zahir, Zafar, Brocket, Basilisk, Enfield) to their new home in Mangaroa, Upper Hutt.They immediately started circumambulating thier new home, exploring all the nooks and crannies- while stuffing their faces with the fantasic grass. The horse next door was rather freaked by the new arrivals- some horses just lose it when then see a camelid for the first time. I expect the boys will be fat and happy in their new home.
I think I will miss Enfield the most. He is the end of Latte’s line. We lost Latte’s previous cria Nabaztag last January to drowning, and then Latte herself last April to Leukemia/Lymphoma. I ended up supporting Enfield with a bottle while Latte lived, and then he was totally dependent on me after she died. I am proud that Enfield is not mis-socialized (proto-berserk), instead he came out a very quiet, friendly animal. I think this was exemplified when he allowed me to catch him in the paddock and inspect his foot (for a minor infection) without any restraint except my hand on his withers!   That is a calm, trusting alpaca!

The rest of Saturday was spent at the Jousting, the biennial event held in Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt. I spent most of the day as a living, moving target for the “shoot the knight” fundraiser. Even with my heavy armour, I was a bit sort at the end of the day (having been shot hundreds of times). I tried to vary the difficulty so people would hit me about 60% of the time to ensure customer satisfaction.  Enough money was raised to get the university SCA fencing club 3 or 4 new swords, so all is well.

Bye-bye, 2008

Some photos from the last few days of 2008:

On a walk up the valley:
Out for a walk Curious bovine

Silly Ridill, that’s not your mum !
Melissa is charmed

At the Tinkers and Traders gathering:
the Tarot truck the Smithy Opa is too old for the bouncy castle

The beach was a little farther than we thought, but it was a good walk anyway.
The pohutukawa is called At the shore Ninja Llama FAIL.

Fun in the garden:
How to grow catnip Carrots in love ?

Happy 2009 !

First time clumsy

Pinocchio got some action for the first time today. We had tried last weekend, but jasmine was not yet receptive. This morning we tried him with Topsy and Jasmine. We did run into one problem though.

When the testosterone flooded into Pinocchio’s little brain, he started chest-butting Topsy and trying to bite her legs. It took some time for him to figure out that there was another set of behaviours driven by testosterone. Eventually the light bulb came on, and he was trying to mate Jasmine. It helped heaps she was already sitting so he did not have to chase her down.

He is going to have to get better about the orgling, as right now it sounds like a sad, infrequent hiccupping noise. He had a few minutes of “success” with Jasmine. The next few days he will have plenty of other opportunities to practice, as Topsy, Cindy, and Saffron are now waiting in queue.

Enormous Mammary

Saffron, who dropped the her cria early back before Christmas developed the same problem she had last year- her udder was so over-full that it was sore and she would not let her cria nurse. (note- we have never seen another lpaca with an udder that huge. Anyone want to breed a line of milking-alpaca?) This time we were ready for it. The cria got plenty of bottle-fed colostrums the first day, and by the next day (when we had confirmed she was not letting him drink) the milking began. As it is a 2-person operation, we could only milk before and after work. We were lucky that the Christmas holiday came later in the week, as milking lots helped take the pressure off, and she started letting the little bub (Ridill) feed. Then it was a few more days of milking maybe once or twice a day.

milking Saffron ...so Ridill can drink

For comparison, here is the udder of one of our other lactating females, Cindy:
Cindy's normal-sized udder

Now things seem to have sorted themselves out. Ridill is feeding and growing, and we have not had to milk Saffron for a few days.

I expect this will be a regular feature for all her cria. At least we know what we are getting into in future years.