Tuesday 26 May 2015

The Beck Brow Strategy

We have had a very long wait for our latest cria...he has been in the planning since November 2012. This was when I quietly slipped out of bed at 3am, sat sleepily in front of the PC, and joined in the elite on-line auction in Australia, which featured amongst others, two top class EP Cambridge females. Both of these girls had performed very well at the Australian National Show the previous week, so my plans to purchase both soon disappeared when I saw how much competition I had. So it was I decided to concentrate on Cambridge Stargazer, A Windsong Valley Firedragon daughter who is jam packed with elite genetics throughout her pedigree.

Stargazer was purchased as an intended match for Beck Brow Explorer (alpaca breeding can be a very long game). In the meantime Stargazer was mated with the renowned EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus whilst in Australia and produced for us a beautiful female, Beck Brow Stardust. Our wait for our Explorer x Stargazer cria continued, as she kept us waiting 368 days, but boy was it worth it. This was one where we were happy to have a male...early days but I am confident to predict that this is the best Explorer cria born to date. He is a mass of tiny, organised, bright curls all over, even his face.

We named our last cria Game On, with this declaration we may need a strategey (well we obviously like planning ahead); so with this in mind we welcome Beck Brow The Strategist.

Beck Brow The Strategist (sire: Beck Brow Explorer)

At 36 hours old...the Explorer look!

I have never tried to pretend otherwise...Explorer is adored. This is not because he has happened to turn out to be an outstanding stud male...I have loved and spoilt him since the day he was born (and nearly didn't survive). So I apologise if this sounds like showing off, because it is and I am proud of the boy...

Yesterday was Northumberland County Show. We took a small show team of seven and none of the first prize winners from the National Show. This meant that we left 4 of the 5 Explorer progeny that have done so well on the show circuit this year, at home. No First Edition, Adventurer, Asterisk or Bottoms up. We only took two; Mr Darcy on his first outing and Trendsetter.. and were awarded both the Male and Female White Championships. We were delighted. Only two other Explorer Progeny were at the show Prince Bishop Polly (second to Trendsetter) and Fallowfield Milo (second to Mr Darcy) who both we both praised very highly by judge Val Fullerlove.

The seven entries received 5 x 1st, 1x 2nd and 1 x 4th (Seventh Heaven was moved to fawn from brown and faired less well!) two championships and two reserve champions. Furze Park Sputnik (Sire: Furze Park Telstar) collected Reserve Champion White Male against some strong competitors and Beck Brow Boxster (sire: Bozedown Omen) received Reserve Champion Fawn Male behind the eventual Supreme (Appledene Diamond Jubilee)

Black Sabbath progeny also did well with Nero Black Reddington taking Reserve Champion Black Male and Florens Kizzy, Reserve Champion Black Female. Champion Grey Female went to the lovely Prince Bishop Pippi-Long-Stockings (also Black Sabbath). 

Apprentice judge Julia Corrigan-Stuart awarding the White Female Championship sash to 
Beck Brow Trendsetter

Finally our granddaughter Hettie who is growing so fast..

Thursday 21 May 2015

Game On for Sox

Thank you for all your comments, emails and calls giving moral support to Sox (pictured above today) .She is being brave, much more than I had anticipated. However, she was in no way fooled by my efforts to sneak Dingo away from under the towel...she is raging with me...blaming me for taking him. Raging to the point that it is difficult not to smile, as she makes such a deliberate effort to let me know she is mad. She wont even look at me. and marches off if I call her. It is good, as she has moved her focus from Dingo to me. She will eventually forgive.

However, I have broken my resolve to keep births tighter next year. Matings were planned to start mid June...yes, Sox and Cat's Pyjamas have been mated today. As Paul always quips - "the majority of Barbara's decisions around alpacas are based on emotion rather than practicality" - so here's another one! They both seem happier knowing they will have another cria.

Now that I have changed plans I decided to at least get a few mated together, rather than have stragglers. So, Explorer was brought to the barn for some romance, whilst Goldmine was looking after his girls. First into the pen was Pheonix...pretty little maiden...who sat as Explorer mounted. Seconds later Explorer is standing, sniffing where gentleman ought not to, and then he just sits beside her. Now, Explorer is fussy when it comes to colour, he dislikes blacks with a passion, but Pheonix is beige, he doesn't have a problem there.

Next I try Elvira (lovely white Telstar daughter also a maiden) this time he sniffs and doesn't even bother to mount. Okay I am getting worried now, our star stud male no longer likes the ladies? Is it because they, and he, are fully fleeced...too much effort?..he is lazy. Does he want a bigger percentage? I used to reward him with a few peas and beans but they weren't good for his waist line...cant have a stud male where his belly gets in the way of work.

Then I remember that he is much smarter than I; he knows when females are receptive with one sniff. I bring in Renatta, a female left open to bring on to summer birthing, she is sitting whilst Goldmine is working...wham, bang, mated...no holding back. Normally I do let maidens see some matings first and get them sitting, but both these girls are coming up two years so I thought that they might be more receptive...stick to the tried and tested methods... Explorer knows best!

Beck Brow Game On is a delight. So friendly like all Waradene St Patrick cria. This boy must have the densest fleece I can remember seeing on a cria of this age. He is a hungry boy, and I have struggled to get a photo of him when he hasn't been under Solstice. I suspect she hasn't the greatest milk supply being a maiden (no weight gain today still 9.2kgs)

Solstice and Game On

Beck Brow Game On

Our other three cria are doing well. Applause and Golden Sunset (both sired by Goldmine) are the very best of friends...

Sunset and Applause this morning

Sunset and Applause this afternoon

Beck Brow On The Money 

And two Goldmine cria agisted here belonging to clients...

Kingwell Charlotte (beige)

Prima Yoko (brown)

We have another white addition to Beck Brow: A Cotton de Telear puppy called Milly, bred by Julia Smith of Astonishing Alpacas, she is super cute. Although Velvet (dog) Astor and Angel (cats) and Hettie (granddaughter) are yet to be convinced. However, she has won over Paul, despite his efforts not to fall for a "handbag dog"

Tracey with Milly with Velvet showing her disdain!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

The story of Foxy Sox...

 I have been meaning to write a blog for a day or two. A blog about Beck Brow Foxy Sox and her son Beck Brow Dingo. It was to be a heart warming tale. How I wish I had got around to telling it sooner.

I will start as it should have been....

Those of you who have followed this blog for a number of years will know Foxy Sox well. The photo below is of her as a cria. You can see where she has had her neck shaved for a plasma transfusion

Beck Brow Foxy Sox as a cria

 The reason for this was, despite Sox being the most beautiful little cria, her dam rejected her at birth. She knew that she was hers...she just didnt want her. Thus Foxy Sox was bottle fed and is very special to us.

Although Sox is in no way pushy, she doesn't always understand alpaca etiquette. Not having been taught  the dos and donts of alpaca manners by her mother, she can get into trouble with her peers.. Because of this we did wonder what kind of a mother she would be. Well, I can tell you...she is the best mother any cria could wish for...the most loving and attentive...as if she is saying "no cria of mine will not be loved as I was".

Dingo was born a week early on the bank holiday Monday. He weighed in at 6.1kgs. A little down on his pasterns, we gave him some cows colostrum to get him going, then Sox took over the feeding. He slowly but steadily gained weight and was 7.5kgs at two weeks. Dingo the star of the cria paddock...popular with everyone...Sox could not be more proud.

Beck Brow Dingo

Yesterday Sox was obviously worried about Dingo. She was telling me that something was wrong. I took his temp (lower end of normal range) I put on a couple of coats. I checked his eyes for redness, no signs of infection (I must confess to still giving him an antibiotic). Resp rate a little high (pain?) No signs of dehydration. I listened to his bowel sounds, fairly quiet. Yet he did appear a bit colicky. I gave him a soapy enema (normal faeces) I gave him Buscapan and Finadyne and he appeared to improve and was playing. I am not going to drag this out any longer...I got up at 4am this morning to check on him...and found him dead.

I have cried for hours. Why did it have to happen to Sox? It is so cruel. She loved him soooo much. We have had a postmortem and Dingo died from peritonitis. It is a good thing that he went quickly as this is a painful condition and his chances of being saved would have been so slim. The thing that I am beating myself up about is not giving him plasma when he was born. I always say if cria are premature or very light they do not have the ability to create antibodies even when they get colostrum. The problem was he was borderline on both weight and prematurity. A sad, sad, lesson learnt.

I left Dingo with Sox for 10 hours (she never left his side), eventually leaving the towel with his scent on in his place. She has been back and forward but appears to accept that he is gone. She is back treating me as her mum, the only mum she knows who loves her.

In amongst all this, and with hailstones and thunder storms being the order of the day, Ep Cambridge Solstice decided to give birth. We had to bring her in, which I prefer not to do with maidens as they often get a bit stressy. However, she appeared calm and gave birth to a handsome fawn male who weighed in a 9.2kgs (quite a size for the diminutive Solstice). All looked well until the weather improved and I decided to let them both out...with the cria born and room to eat...Solstice headed off to feast on the grass...leaving the cria to fend for its self. 

We have eventually got some kind of bond established, although Solstice leaves him out in the rain. How ironic that Sox loses her beloved son and Solstice really isnt keen. He has had a plasma transfusion today, as we really were not certain that he received enough colostrum in time. No more taking chances. I have been feeling too upset to thing of a name...but I know I need to pull my self together...and with that spirit he shall be called Beck Brow Game On...keep fighting!


Ep Cambridge Solstice and Beck Brow Game On

Thursday 7 May 2015

Introducing the first cria of 2015 (only 44 to go)

Having decided to wait until I had some cria photos to share before writing a blog; I am now a week or two behind...a combination of being too busy and so much wet weather...at last today some sunshine (well its not raining and the sun is teasing us from behind a cloud) and a chance to get out the camera.

The births on the farm so far...

First to be born was Prima Imagine who is now 18 days old. A lovely blue black, Black Sabbath female, born at first dawn, she weighed a healthy 9.4 kgs. By the time she was a week old she weighed 12.6 kgs, I don't think I have seen such weight gain!

Second to arrive was Prima Ringo another Black Sabbath progeny. Ringo was born at 4pm and was rather down on his pasterns and not looking to drink from his dam. He was bottle fed bovine colostrum and subsequently goats milk, given plenty of vitamin B1 injections, and he was off and away feeding from his dam by day three.

We unfortunately had a very disappointing start to our Beck Brow birthing season, when I found a dead cria at 5.30 am. Our beautiful Cat's Pyjamas had birthed 6 weeks early and during dreadful weather. Very sad, but we console ourselves that Cats did not come to any harm (I perish the thought had she got in to trouble in the middle of the night).

Next to birth was Anzac Amaretto, the first Goldmine cria for the Prima herd. A very dense and curly beige female, again born early morning. This one has been named Lolita. 

Then at last it was our turn, born at 6pm (what is happening this year, we normally have births between 9am and 3pm, no one so far has played ball) we welcomed a handsome dark brown male from Bozedown Campari and sired by Timbertop CT Goldmine. As this is exactly as I would have requested, I have named him Beck Brow On The Money. He is looking very promising...time will tell.

Continuing to keep us on our toes, we had another Prima herd female birth at 7am the following morning. A whooping 11.1kg Black Sabbath dark brown (could be bay black!) female. Named Prima Michelle (you may have guessed by now...Prima are having a Beatles naming year).

Last and indeed least we have another Beck Brow cria. Beck Brow Foxy Sox birthed at 333 days. The only one to have read the chapter on time of day to birth (if not the part about gestation periods) she had a lovely fawn male at 10.30 am. He was a little premature in presentation and only weighed 6.1kgs, but he is doing well. He also had bovine colostrum and vit B1, but drank from mum the same day, once he got some strength to do so. Foxy Sox was rejected by her own dam and was completely bottle fed, no chance she is going to do the same, she is the most loving and attentive first time mum. With so much rain the poor little man has been in and out, and in and out, of the barn trying to avoid a soaking. With his full Australian pedigree we have named him Beck Brow Dingo

Beck Brow Dingo (sire Goldmine)

Foreground: Beck Brow On The Money (sire Goldmine)

Prima Ringo (sire Black Sabbath)

Prima Imagine (sire Black Sabbath)

Prima Lolita (sire Goldmine)

Prima Michelle (sire Black Sabbath)

and finally Dingo gets his coat off!!

Galaxy, who was scheduled to have the first cria of the year, is now 367 - days gestation. Stargazer and Solstice are both 351 days, so hopefully exciting times soon.

We added six cria and sold eight boys over the past couple of weeks. The boys have found homes in Scotland, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Two of the boys, Epic and Raffles were amongst my favourites, I was sad to see them go but they have definitely landed on their feet with five star accommodation...

Epic (left) and Raffles

Five star accommodation