Sunday 28 June 2015

Random stuff....

The week seems to have gone by in a blur of orgling - for those of you without alpacas; this is the noise males make whilst mating. It obviously does something for the females who are induced to ovulate, but it does nothing for me. Think of someone yodelling whilst riding a moped, and you will get the idea.

Yesterday Paul went off on a seven hour round trip mobile mating with Explorer and Goldmine, and Gunsmith had two drive-by matings at home. Whilst the older boys are true pros (so much so that if Explorer could drive, he could do his own mobiles), Gunsmith wasn't as keen on his second mating despite a good rest in between. Then he cried longingly after the females had left. He has yet to learn that you have to take your opportunities whilst available!

Matings at home have been rather random. Paul and I sat down and compiled a list of who should be mated to whom and I have totally ignored it! One reason for the change is that Explorer is producing colour. Two very happy clients have had lovely apricot coloured light fawn females from white dams (I want one!). Thus Explorer has taken some of our best fawn females (yes I will get some white I know - just hopefully some colour too) Most of the black girls will go to Gunsmith as are most of the dark browns, but will we get any greys? I expect a couple of my randoms may just produce a multi...i think I was bored at the time!

One or two of the yearling females are sitting next to the pen whilst matings are taking place. I always debate about when is the right age for maidens, but we have had problems with excessive weight gain when larger girls are left until two years. We will weigh those sitting at the end of July, and make some decisions then if they are over 45kgs (I know some are 50kgs already!)

Another debate has always cria shear or not to cria shear...well this year we are going to. I have been skirting fleece and some of our finest cria fleece are beyond saving, they are so full of hay seeds, moss and dirt. I am also finding some very small pieces of cardboard (only a couple of millimetre wide and 5mm long) this must be from either the National Show or Futurity. We do our best to keep the fleeces clean, the barn is swept every day, but it is an impossible task. It isn't helped by the fact our alpacas love the barn. I get up somewhere between 5.30 and 6am each morning to check the girls, and no matter what the weather, I find 75 of them in the barn munching hay and pooing (I suppose it has to be picked up inside or out!)

I have to say it is handy, as we usually do any husbandry tasks in the morning when they are already in. Cria are weighed every day for the first week, and then if they are thriving they go on to weekly weighing. Lambivac injections are given around 5 weeks before birthing, and cria are given theirs at 4 weeks and 8 weeks of age. Having them in the barn means that the girls and cria are very relaxed around us, and this is when I pick up any abnormalities such as jaw abscesses (we are treating two with Florfenicol at present). We also do our matings and spit offs when everyone is in, which often means you don't have to spit-off as the open girls sit next to the pen, letting us know.

On the subject of weighing...not only are we getting really good birth weights overall (lots between 9kgs and 11 kgs) they are maintaining their birth weight and gaining from day one. Healthy happy dams! We now have 23 cria on the farm. Eleven of those belong to Beck Brow. We have four girls and seven boys so far. Two more boys born for us this week...

Beck Brow Jeepster (sire; Waradene St Patrick. dam; Anzac Sweet Secret)

Just born today and only one hour old in the photo...Beck Brow Wasabi (sire; Beck Brow Explorer. dam; Ep Cambridge Courtesse). He is definitely beige.

After some drive-by matings and a birth this morning, I have managed to get sometime in the mother and cria paddock this afternoon. I love cria racing...the fawn cria far right looks like she is going to hit the post...

but manages to swerve...

Some cria photos...

Bozedown Magic Charm and Beck Brow Match Point (sire; Timbertop CT Goldmine)

Beck Brow Bedazzle (sire; Beck Brow Explorer)

Enjoying a chill by the trough

with the viaduct in the background

I do enjoy male cria (just as well) Beck Brow Game On (sire; Waradene St Patrick) is the mischief. In the space of half an hour he had started play fights with three other cria...

Beck Brow Game On (with the trade mark St Patrick ears)

Beck Brow Roma (fine Romance) is looking like she may be getting ready for birthing soon. Roma rejected her first cria (Foxy Sox) who was bottle fed. She tried to do the same again last year but with the help of Sepia (homoeopathic remedy) she did eventually bond with Asterisk...will she remember that she loved being a mum when she tried it!

Despite talk of a is still windy up north...enough to blow a small dog over!

Milly (a Cotton de Telear bred by Julia Smith)

Sunday 21 June 2015

From Boys to Men...

As always lots has been happening here and the blog has been neglected. So, a bit of a catch up...

Ep Cambridge Gunsmith has settled in well and is now working. He was a little shy on arrival, and definitely didn't want to be in isolation (he jumped a fence). So the decision was made to create him his own little harem, where he could practise unobserved. He was placed in a group with three maidens (two black and one grey) and after being taken to watch our boys in action a couple of times, he was soon down to business. He has now been put in with some boys for company and happily performs with the females in the mating pen.

Ep Cambridge Gunsmith

Yesterday Paul delivered Beck Brow Crafter to his new home at Fangdale Alpacas in Yorkshire. Crafter has been watching his elders at work in the mating pens, but hadn't been let loose on any of the girls (mainly because we didn't want the group of young males to start competing). As Beck Brow Explorer had accompanied Crafter, it was decided that he should watch Explorer at work then have a date himself. Crafter had obviously been watching the master at work for a while...his first introduction to the ladies was relaxed and gentlemanly.

Beck Brow Crafter (before shearing)

The dynamics in the boys paddock has now changed. Crafter was the main man, with First Edition (Eddie) his deputy. Poor Bespoke was bottom of the pile, as Crafter made sure that was where he wanted him. Now that Crafter has gone, Bespoke is making a bid for leadership. However, it looks like Eddie and Boxster have made a new alliance, and are going for the top job. If Eddie were a person he would be the one who never gets the blame because he gets someone else to fire his bullets. Never in charge but best friends with the guy who is :)

Beck Brow Boxster (left) and Beck Brow First Edition (both 2 years and retained as stud males)

In my last blog I suggested the Ep Cambridge Lady Gaga was due to birth, as she was looking after the Strategist as if he were her own. As predicted the next day she had a fawn male. He is super cute and I was going to call him Beau (as suggested by Helen) but he is a little mischief so I have now named him Byker (Byker Grove) . I am finding inspiration for names difficult this year. Our little black female born last week has been named Evoque, inspired by the fact I have a new black motor (could have been X3 but I changed my mind at the last minute!)

Beck Brow Byker

The Morden Hall Honaria and Beck Brow Explorer union, which has produced First Edition and Bottoms Up, has done it again, producing another stunner. Beck Brow Bedazzled is very like Eddie, with an extremely fine, bright and dense fleece. I an not sure if she is beige or white but I thought this with Bottoms Up who ended up white. Explorer does give them a sun kiss which quickly fades out (he had this himself)

Beck Brow Bedazzle (sire: Beck Brow Explorer)

I might have already said this...but this really could be my favourite 2015 coloured cria so is Beck Brow Match Point. Bozedown Magic Charm and Timbertop CT Goldmine have produced a lovely uniform fawn male, who is so dense and curly, and handsome too.

Beck Brow Match Point 

The latest to be born is a Black Sabbath male born to Prima Razzamataz. June continues to be wet, cold and windy in the North West. I don't think we have ever needed so many coats. These dog coats by Masta and bought from Equestrian Clearance (on line) are the best, being both warm and waterproof (most prove only to be water resistant)


Razamataz and cria (on agistment)

As always the antics of the cria keep us amused. Below is Game On (sire: Waradene St Patrick) annoying Applause (sire: Timbertop CT Goldmine). She starts by trying to ignore the fact that he is biting her ear...

then decides to retaliate by biting his back. he is standing firm...not for surrendering...

Okay, Okay...I give to the girls!!!

Last weekend we had a lovely time in Northern Ireland. We had been invited to stay by Roger and Elaine from Amberly Alpacas, and this was to coincide with the Armagh County Show. We were so lucky with the weather, which was much better than we left at home, and had a lovely time. Great weather, lovely people, and alpacas...what more is there to want. The alpaca show was judged by Tim Hey and was supported by 10 breeders from Northern Ireland and included both Huacaya and Suri. Our hosts took the Supreme Championship in both breeds, so plenty of celebrating was in order. Well done guys!

Unfortunately I didn't take any photos whilst away...far too busy talking and socialising. Just a couple more taken today to finish with...

Who says black and white alpacas don't mix (Stargazer and The Strategist in the foreground)

 Actually I took the photo because it is unusual...this is more the norm!

As you can see we have lots of grass as always. We have been topping in the same manner as painting the forth bridge...non-stop. We also have lots of Buttercups this year. Paul has been busy spraying (Relay P) but as the paddocks have to be left for at least a week before reintroducing stock, this is being done in  rotation.

It's raining to get the washing in off the line...mainly cria coats!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Three, Two, One....births, legs back and a prolapse!

Its been a busy few days: since shearing at the weekend, we have had, three births, two with dystocia, and one with a prolapsed uterus...all of this in amongst heavy showers and strong wind (at least the sun is out today!)

On Monday one of the females on agistment went into labour, after no progress was made I intervened to find both legs locked back. Once untangled a lovely blue black male (Sire: Black Sabbath) was born to Riverdance a beige female. The cria was quickly up on his feet and all looked well...until she passed the placenta...with uterus attached. The rain at this point had started to pour down and all of the females in her paddock ran to the barn for cover. With the cria coated, I decided to leave Riverdance out...the floor of the barn was likely to be dirtier than the clean grass she was sat upon.

The vet arrived quickly and requested cold water with Hibiscrub rather than the warm water I had ready for him. The reason for this is the cold water makes the uterus contract and thus easier to replace. Riverdance has been stitched as when she sat she looked like she may prolapse again. The stiches are to be removed tomorrow.She was given calcium, antibiotics and pain relief and appears okay.

The unfortunate news is that she has severe arthritis. I did think that she had some stiffness in her hind legs and that this may be the cause. This had worsened with the duration of the pregnancy. However, upon replacing the prolapse the vet could feel that her pelvis and hips were swollen and stiff. This was the reason for the legs being back as the pelvis could not expand as it would normally. So no more births for Riverdance.

The next two births were also agisted alpacas (all three different owners). First on Tuesday was Butterscotch owned by Amanda of Florens Alpacas. Butterscotch birthed with ease producing a bouncing beige male sired by Goldmine.

Willow owned by Wiseman Alpacas started in labour at the same time as Butterscotch, but no progress was made. It did take a bit of working out what was going on in side. I managed to get the first leg out easily but the second was hard to find. Eventually I figured that it was crossed in front of the head pushing the cria's nose down and preventing presentation. I managed to free the leg and the head presented quickly but crown first rather than nose. With a little more help Willow did manage to produce a lovely light fawn female (sire: Almost Illegal)...who wouldn't straighten the leg that had been bent back...with plenty of massage and helping her to straighten the leg she eventually was up and off. It was as if the cria had the leg bent for so long,it felt strange to straighten it!

My guess is the Ep Cambridge Lady Gaga will be next to birth...

Here is Beck Brow The Strategist (dam: Cambridge Stargazer) with...


Beck Brow The Strategist (sire: Beck Brow Explorer)

With Lady Gaga...she always decides to adopt someone else's cria when she is ready for birthing...


But it cant be any old cria...she isnt having a black mess with her adoptee


After enjoying all of the attention...The Strategist goes for a kiss from Mum...


Below is Riverdance with her black cria


Beck Brow Golden Sunset is coming along nicely...


Beck Brow Golden Sunset (sire: Timbertop CT Goldmine)

And some photos of granddaughter Hettie...



Paul is off to Heathrow tomorrow afternoon to pick up Ep Cambridge Gunsmith our new grey male, whom we share with Stuart and Jean from Velvet Hall Alpacas.


Ep Cambridge Gunsmith

I enjoyed our two days of shearing this year, it was lovely handling all the fleeces as they came off the alpacas. The Beck Brow Explorer progeny fleeces were very pleasing and this was reinforced when we received the fleece stats on Monday. All of our juniors were either ultrafine or superfine.

Trendsetter MFD 15.8 SD: 3.3 CV 19.8 CF 100% was the finest junior 

First Edition MFD 16.6 SD 3.3 CV 19.6 CF 100% was the finest of his intermediate progeny.

Below is a photo of Furze Park Sputnik's first fleece. His second fleece results are:

MFD: 15.7 SD: 3.1 CV: 19.8 CF 100%


Furze Park Sputnik's first fleece