Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No longer just a fiber farm

Up until this weekend, our alpaca herd has been entirely male and most of the boys have been gelded.  This is typically what makes up a true fiber farm.  No girls around to complicate life for the boys.  Some say that gelded males have the nicest fleece because all the animal's energy goes into making fiber instead of testosterone. 

We found someone selling some grey boys, and one of them was rose grey - a color I've been wanting to add to the herd.   These folks also had some females with young babies.  Chet's been talking about getting some girls to diversify our options and possibly do some breeding and selling animals.  Truthfully, I wasn't all that interested in adding to the alpaca population.  Maybe it's my background in dog rescue; maybe I'm really like Prissy in Gone with the Wind, "I don't know nothin bout birthin babies" or even taking care of young crias.  I've read horror stories on mail lists about difficult births, crias dying, having to bottle feed and the troubles that can cause.

The girls for sale were from excellent bloodlines, one and two generations removed from the original Peruvian and Chilean imports with big names.  The girls were brown, but the babies were white, which is another color I don't have enough of.  The package price for the 2 girls with crias and 2 grey boys was outstanding and we decided that if we were ever going to get some females that we couldn't pass up this chance. 

I've been in research mode for the last few days reading about cria care (the baby girl is 10 weeks old, the boy is just 8 weeks old), weaning, breeding and birthing.  Once we get new animals sheared, we'll doing some breeding really soon.   An alpaca's gestation period is a minimum of 335 days (about 11.5 months) and you don't want babies born in the heat and humidity of the summer or the worst cold of the winter.  (See what I've learned already!)

Having these new animals means that the boys have to be kept separate from the girls and crias, and the new boys have to be separated for a while from the resident boys.  Good thing Chet built out nicely divided pastures.  I think he was planning for this all along!

Bonacella and baby boy, standing; Stephanie and baby girl cushed

The grey boys are gorgeous!  They are actually half-brothers, having the same dam.  I can't wait to get my hands on these fleeces.

Rusty (rose grey) and Lightning (silver grey)


  1. They are beautiful! I'm sure you could find room for some bunnies though! Just saying....