Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Light Rose Grey Boy

We have been fortunate enough to witness another miracle of birth on our farm. We have been anxiously awaiting the birth of Maree Sol's cria. She was bred to Smokey last summer and it has been a long year! I had some worries because we were told that Maree Sol's last cria had wry face and had to be euthanized. While wry face is a "freak" thing, I was still worried about birth defects. Fortunately, Maree Sol gave birth to a robust and healthy light rose grey boy on Monday, July 27, 2009 at 10:50am. We have still not picked out a name for the little guy. I want it to be something great as we may be adding this little guy to our herdsire line-up some day if he matures well. As with every morning, I went out to the barn to feed the alpacas their grain and check on Sol on Monday. Sol had been noticeably uncomfortable for the last two days. We had not seen any movement from the cria until two days before he was born, which worried me a little, but she is a very large girl and I think it was difficult to see any movement through her "love handles." When palpating the cria, we could feel some small movements. Anyway, on Monday morning, Sol still seemed uncomfortable. She did not skip her grain, but was humming a lot. She would stand and hum for about five minutes, then lay down on her side with her legs kicked out and sigh very loudly. Then she would sit back up and begin chewing cud for another five to ten minutes. Then she would get uncomfortable and stand up again. She repeated this cycle several times. I suspect she was having contractions that were 5 to 10 minutes apart. Although I would have liked to sit and watch her all day, I had to go to my "real" job. I told Noah that I thought she might be in labor and to call me if it progressed. He called me about an hour and a half later and said she was dilated and standing over the poo pile pushing. Luckily my office is only 8 minutes from home. I got home just in time to see the scene below.

Maree Sol was starting to push the nose out. The sac was still a bubble around the nose. As she was pushing the nose and sac out, it looked like there was uterus or placenta surrounding it, but once the bag broke a few seconds later, it disappeared. I suspect it was just her back end stretching and looking bright red from blood vessels breaking. I saw the crias nose through the sac and was confused because at first I thought it looked white, but then on further inspection it was white and brown.

After the sac broke, the head and feet emerged. The feet looked white and the head looked white and brown. Notice the little protective caps on the nails below.

Maree Sol checks out what is going on with her rear end!

All the other girls surrounded Sol during her labor. I am not sure if they were offering support, trying to stay in the shade, or if they were just curious what was going on with their friend.

After the head and feet were out, Sol rested for ten minutes and munched on hay. The cria hiccuped and sputtered during this time, trying to clear his lungs. After ten minutes of munching, Sol laid down and then stood up and the legs and neck popped out. We were relieved to see there was no elbow lock and we would not have to intervene at all. As the cria continued to cough, Sol finished pushing him out.

He was noticeably strong and was trying to hold his head up and sniff the other alpacas as he was coming out. He also tried to stand on his front legs on the ground when his back legs were still inside mom.

The little guy hit the ground and immediately tried to stand up. As he was rolling, Noah was able to see that he was a boy. At this point, we were a little disappointed since our last two cria had been boys. We were hoping for a girl. His markings, which included white socks, chin, nose and patch on forehead looked pretty cute though. He was still wet, but we thought he looked dark fawn or light brown.

I have yet to see a baby alpaca as strong and active as this little guy. All of our other cria have taken a while to sit up and stay sitting before they try to stand. This little guy pretty much skipped the sitting up and went straight to standing. He was standing within 5 minutes after being born.

Amazingly, within fifteen minutes after being born, he was running and jumping. Of course he bit the dust a few times, but was right back up and running from one end of the catch pen to the other. I have never seen a cria run this quickly after birth. Poor Sol was chasing after him and constantly humming in a high pitched hum that I have never heard from her before.

Below is Riphaeus, our two and a half month old cria checking out the new baby. He was mildly interested, but was pretty stand-offish. It makes me wonder whether alpacas personalities are somewhat inherited or if they learn them. Riphaeus is very snobby and stuck up like his mommy Lady. He is not very friendly and will even spit at us when we have to bottle feed him. He tends to stick with his mom and isn't very playful. On the other hand, our new cria seems to be very laid back, easy going and friendly, much like his mama Maree Sol. Makes one wonder....

It was funny that Riphaeus was not that much bigger than the new baby. Riphaeus has had a rough start because of his mom's mastitis and is not very big. Both his parents are smaller too, so I think he is not going to be very big. I wouldn't be surprised if the new baby grows bigger than Riphaeus in no time! Last night, the new baby was trying to get Riphaeus to play with him. He was racing around the field and would run right up to Riphaeus (who was of course right at his mommy's side) and jump side ways. It reminded me of a scene from Bambi. Riphaeus didn't seem to take the bait. Hopefully he will loosen up and start playing with the new little guy who has tons of energy and loves to run!

About fifty minutes after the cria was born, the placenta was born. Between the cria and the placenta, Maree Sol is now 30 lbs lighter! Below, the cria is trying to nurse off Sol's neck. He still hadn't found the milk machine but had been looking diligently for the last 45 minutes while he was running around.

The placenta was intact and everything looked good. Sol is an excellent mother. She continued to try and direct the cria to the milk machine and ran after him humming every time he took off. She even stood still as we directed him to the milk machine. Despite being so huge and a food monger...Maree Sol is a very sweet and easy to work with luckily!

About an hour later, the cria was still drying. As I sat and watched him dry, I noticed that he was looking more grey than fawn or brown. Noah had been butchering chickens while I was watching him dry. When he left, the cria was still wet and when he came back he noticed right away that the cria looked rose grey!

Almost dry.

The crias legs, tail, head, and neck are noticeably rose grey! His blanket has white/grey fibers spread throughout it here and there. I suspect he will turn more grey as he grows.

The picture is a little blurry below, but it shows his fiber. He already has beautiful crimp and a surprisingly long staple length for a newborn. His strength and fiber characteristics seem more like an alpaca who is a week or two old. Hopefully this means he is a strong healthy boy!

Maree Sol and the cria rest after a long day. Maree Sol is a great mama with lots of milk. After the cria dried, we put iodine on his umbilical stump and weighed him. He was 20.0 lbs at birth; the largest cria we have had born on our farm so far. Notice proud papa Smokey in the background.

We are so excited to have a full Peruvian Rose Grey male! Neither Noah or I predicted that Sol and Smokey would produce rose grey. Although Smokey is dark silver grey and has lots of grey in his background, Maree Sol has all white as far back and you can see. I was thinking white or fawn girl and Noah was thinking brown girl. We couldn't be more happy with our new little guy! We will definitely be repeating this breeding! We hope he matures and shows well as we would love to add him to our herdsire line-up some day. Especially since we now have two full pervian grey females who would be great matches for him! We just love greys! Already big plans for such a little guy. Stayed tuned for more pictures of him as he grows.