A Surprise in the pasture

Lovey dovey

Lovey dovey

Where'd the milk bar go?

Where'd the milk bar go?

Here I am!

Here I am!

There just isn’t anything cuter than new babies of any kind. We were not expecting any so soon! Sunday, Father’s Day and the first day of Summer, we walked out into the pasture to check on a couple of new chicks our broody hens had hatched. Some movement in the pasture made us look and there was a little alpaca! Where did that come from? It was from our pregnant girl, Dash of Flash (Dash for short) who we thought was due sometime in late fall. We were shocked and amazed that she gave us no clues she was ready. These animals are really hard to observe as being in a pregnant form. They just don’t get really bulky. Her baby girl weighed in at 17 lbs. and we surmise that she was only an hour or so old. We discovered them about 6 p.m. hanging out in the pasture. Dad is in the pasture next to them, Hershey Surprise.

A little background: first of all, it’s a good thing I didn’t know she was due now or I would have been really nervous since this is our first on-site birth. Her first cria a couple years back at another farm had been a stillbirth with difficulty and Dash almost did not survive but she did and we gave her a long rest, not breeding her until last year. Their gestation is 11-12 months. We did not think her first breeding to our herdsire last spring was successful (we are novices at this and they were not real thrilled to be in a pen together).

We then decided to pasture them together for a week. We thought this was not successful, but apparently at some point it was. We tried them together again in the fall and they did not like each other so we pastured them again (again, novices. We were not aware at that time she was probably pregnant). We started back into the breeding again this spring with all 3 girls and Dash was spitting off the male immediately so we knew then probably she was pregnant from the fall breeding, and it would be a fall birth. The other 2 girls bred with Hershey just fine.

Our herdsire looks to have the ability of one breeding equals success, as our other two girls appear to be pregnant for next spring births. I am keeping more precise records now and know when he was successful with the girls. We also have gotten 2 10×10 catch pens (one for the girls side and one for the boys) since last Fall which is much better keeping them in a more confined space for a short time while breeding. And we also know if they don’t get together pretty quick, try another day and relieve them of the additional stress of being together when they are not interested. Dash can be rebred 2-3 weeks after birth, so we will have hopefully 3 new crias next spring.

Summer Surprise is gaining weight and running around, has learned to use the poop pile (they have a communal dung pile; easy to keep the pasture cleaned up), and she is so curious she will drift away from mom to investigate the wandering chickens or wild rabbits running through the pasture. An occasional burst of energy sends her bucking around the pasture. Her dad, Hershey Surprise, is a stunning mahogany brown with dense fleece and I hope she will have his good fleece qualities. My original goal was to have grey as a color emphasis, so all of our animals do have strong grey backgrounds. Hard to know what color she will end up as they tend to change a little from the color they are born with, but right now she has medium brown with smoky grey tipping all over and more around her face and neck.

The temps are reaching 100 this week so making sure they have cool clean water and hose down their bellies makes them happy. The big barn has good cross breezes and the fans are running during the day to help move the air around.



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