Emma Taylor – 21 September, 2021

21 September 2021     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

We, like others, have had a prolonged birthing season which is finally over.

Our first dam, a well grown maiden, had clearly read the instructions & started labouring shortly before 5am & first check of the day. By 1pm she was in established labour & we watched from a distance, eagerly awaiting her first cria. By 3pm not much progress so I had a quiet word in her ear & said that I would give her an hour else she needed to pop herself into the catch pen so I could see what was, or was not in her case, happening. At 3.50pm she wandered into the catch pen of her own accord & looked at me as if saying ‘please can you do something’.

A quick internal found a fully closed cervix – known as ring womb – which was gently manipulated & opened without too much persuasion. We then left mum to continue. Sadly, progress was not made despite mum’s vigorous attempts & much ‘hokey cokey’ with either or both forelimbs, so we reinvestigated to find the crown of the cria’s head presenting with the nose firmly stuck behind the pelvis. At this point & wishing to avoid an out of hours call out, I balanced my phone on the dam & called the vet! Our vet arrived swiftly & thankfully delivered a bright, strong mid fawn female who we have aptly called Kerfuffle. The dam bonded with her immediately & has been a natural super mum.

Our next cria needed the shoulders ‘displacing’ by gently easing one or other foreleg further forward than the other to reduce the overall size of the combined shoulders, to aid delivery & again another bouncing female who is super charged! Kiss Chase, known as KC on the farm, is the friendliest cria who is a very sweet fawn with definite tuxedo. Both KC & Kerfuffle will join our grey breeding programme in due course. Both sired by AEA Avante (light fawn).

The next cria had the least ‘interested to feed’ mother of all! Another maiden who took one look at her cria & said – no thanks! The dam was clearly not willing to feed her cria voluntarily, so we spent several days catching the dam & holding her while her cria fed. Thank fully after several days Holly got to grips with motherhood & has continued to be a very good mum with an abundance of milk. Her cria, Kwizzical, has caught up in size with the other two & today, stands tall, chunky & proud. We wonder if mum is as surprised as us of the colour of her cria given her daughter is a rich brown – dam is grey, sire is rose grey (who usually produces grey or rose grey to a grey female) – oh the fun of alpaca genetics! That all said Kwizzicle is stunning, huge & beautiful.

As breeders, we first glimpse a nose with a possible indication of colour; then thoughts turn to hopes for a healthy cria, swiftly followed by ‘girl or boy’ which for us, adds to the pleasure & excitement of breeding these extraordinary creatures who join the herd to add to our fibre producers. We are now waiting on the arrival of the remaining few girls who are at 380 days plus! On checking one dam’s records I noted she held on until day 400 for her last cria (off one mating) so we will just be patiently impatient!

On a final note, we recently held a clue for BBC Norfolk Treasure Quest – the ‘runner’ Jules is live on the radio in a car & listeners have to solve the most cryptic clues. Clues are placed around particular areas of the county, usually at events or businesses, & they have to be recovered by Jules to access the next clue which requires further solving. They got to us in the end but neither Jules nor Deb (who have only a paper map) are not familiar with this part of Norfolk.

Thoughts now turn to the impending winter chores with advanced preparation being key.”