Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pre-shearing Pictures

Snowball, a.k.a. "Ringo," pre-shearing

I'm just preparing for Saturday when our final three alpacas will be shorn. This is our only suri alpaca. Notice how his fleece is twisted and stringy, not fluffy like the other alpacas. This is a genetic variation that is actually a dominant gene, but suri alpacas were nearly wiped out by the Spanish sheep hundreds of years ago because they can't stand the cold as well as their huacaya cousins.

The other two to be shorn are Dawn and Consuella, both of who are due in September. This is a little late to shear them, but it is still a week earlier than we were going to shear them originally.

Alpaca pregnancies are a little delicate the first three months and the last three months of an 11 1/2 month term. They are pretty solid those middle six months, but immediately after breeding and approaching delivery, you don't want to stress the mammas. They can and do re-absorb pregnancies during the first three months and they can abort during the last three months. This means that we like to get stressful things like shots and shearing done in that six-month window, or do it between birth and re-breeding (about a 2 week window).

We're pushing it with Dawn and Consuella as they are due between 10 and 12 weeks from now. I think it will be okay, though, since both of them have had many unproblematic pregnancies.

However, I am going to be far more vigilant in the future to schedule shearing in May when all of the girls will still be in that six month "safe zone." I'll sleep better at night if I do.

In other news, Cabernet is due in eight weeks. This means that cria watch will begin approximately the last week of July. This might be a problem with filming the movie this summer, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

That's all for now.

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