Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Never take your eye off the ball...

I am often asked, as are many alpaca breeders I am sure, to explain the term 'spit off'. So for those of you unfamiliar with the term; a brief explanation (alpaca breeders ignore italics).

Alpacas are stimulated ovulators i.e the physical act combined with orgling (the noise that the male makes...sounds a bit like gargling something unpleasant... but the girls seem to enjoy it) should make them ovulalate, usually with 2 days or so. To test if the female has ovulated she is reintroduced to an intact male after 7 days and if she rejects the male (usually by spitting hence the term spit-off but some female just run from the male) she is assumed to have done so. The same procedure is then repeated 7 days later and if the female rejects the male again she is then assumed to be pregnant (pregnancy spit-off). This is not completely accurate and spit-offs continue, and the pregnancy is then confirmed by scanning, but it is a pretty good guide.

Well, last night we had a lot of spit-offs to perform. Some that could have been done on Sunday had been left over as St. Patrick had already worked on mobile matings that day, so this meant that he had 6 in total (some ovulation spit-off and some pregnancy spit-offs). He set off quite calmly, and luckily for us, but unfortunately for St. Patrick, all of the females spat-off.

Now, maybe this was a bit too much rejection for a macho in one day...or maybe he liked a bit of odour-de-poo picking...but as I turned left to speak to Amanda with St. Patrick on his halter in my right hand...something made me turn...it was St Patrick up on his back legs about to place his front legs on my shoulders from behind...I will leave the rest to the imagination. Thankfully he is not difficult to handle so I was able to sort things out...this was just as well as Amanda was no help...creased up laughing. Tyke the minature Yorkie did try to come to my aid by biting St. Patrick's ankles!

So there is a lesson here ladies...when you have a rampant male in hand...never take your eye off the ball!

One male did have some success where St. Patrick had failed; Pebbles who had been difficult last year...rejecting all advances even though we knew that she had not been mated...had been doing the same thing this year, She doesn't spit or get stressed, she just will not sit. She even goes over and starts eating hay with the male on her back.  Despite all our efforts she hadn't been interested in St. Patrick so we decided to introduce her to Almost Illegal. It took a while but he eventually had success...she was down....however it was only Almost Illegal's second mating so he was rather over excited. We must have made a strange sight...Amanda keeping Pebbles in position (Almo actually gave Amanda a smooch a one point) and Craig and myself trying to keep Almo in position. We managed a reasonably calm mating of 20 minutes so fingers crossed. I am sure someone could make a TV series about the alpaca mating season!

We had some lovely visitors to the farm today who are considering breeding alpacas in the future. I am terrible when I get an interested audience (well I think that they were) I do rather talk for England...so apologies if you read this folks...hope you haven't got information overload! Bet I have a sore throat tomorrow!


  1. Still smiling today. Sooooo funny!

  2. Priceless, seems like he'd been teased just once too often!

  3. I think we're all the same when we find folks interested in alpacas...our passion for alpacas sort of takes over!

    Better watch that St Pat..he clearly thinks that ALL the girls are for him..maybe Paul should give him a talking to?!!

  4. Surely you meant 'Never take your eye off the balls (or to be more accurate, the owner of the balls)!'

  5. A great blog Barbara! I can't get the image of you and St Patrick out of my head however!!