Our Very First Birth on the Farm
When we purchased our first alpacas, Kit Kat and Harrison, we were told that Kit Kat was bred and should be due in the late fall. This was also something we learned was an important thing to take into consideration when purchasing alpacas-how do they schedule their breeding. More on that later.
We spent the summer into the fall learning as much as we could at the time about alpacas, birthing and crias. Getting our birthing bag ready. Based on what the couple we purchased from had told us we were to expect a baby anytime between October and December. So we waited…..and waited…..and waited.
Kit Kat never showed any signs of pregnancy, but according to our research and from what we’ve since learned-alpacas are REALLY REALLY good at hiding their pregnancies right up until birth. Also based on what we’d seen when we first got them Kit Kat was constantly spitting off on Harrison and not allowing him near her-another good indicator that she was carrying.
By the time Christmas and New Year’s rolled around we’d determined that she had lost the baby from any number of things (if she was even pregnant)-even though we don’t know her age, she does seem to be on the older side, she was also very skinny and seemed to be lacking in nutrition until we worked to get some weight on her with some good food, stress from being the only female alpaca for so many months (which we learned was a big no no and regret deeply that she suffered until we learned differently). So a pregnancy loss really wouldn’t have been a surprise.
Right around the week leading into the New Year we had a really good cold snap and a big snow storm. Days of frigid cold!!!! January 5th rolls around and its actually a decent, sunny day-not warm by any means but sunny and no howling wind. We ran some errands that morning, I believe we even went to breakfast. We get back home and are inside putting groceries away and my husband is looking out the window and says “Uh Oh”. I’m thinking oh crap what happened-did they get out, did a dog get in with them….WHAT! I look out our big windows and see this tiny little brown alpaca stumbling around out in the pen!!!!!
We rush to grab our medical bag we’d put together months ago, along with some towels and the blow dryer. We get out to the barn and Kit Kat is just looking at us like “look what I did hehe”. We got the baby dried off and thoroughly checked over. It’s a GIRL! Weighing in at 14lbs and healthy as far as we could tell. Got a cria coat on her and set up a heat source in the stall with lots of bedding to help keep her warm.
We named her Serendipity (since she was definitely a happy surprise). Kit Kat is by far the most attentive mom we have at the farm. To this day her and Serendipity can usually be found side by side. It was about that time that Kit Kat started to look like she was smiling all the time. She just seemed to have a change about her that comes across as peaceful happiness.
Some of you might say why not get an ultrasound? Ultrasounds are not always a guaranteed thing with alpacas. Plus, this is a farm, they are livestock. In reality if a baby comes a baby comes-if not then you try again if that’s what you wanted. I did get ultrasounds with some of my other girls in the past, but I’ve found it really doesn’t make a difference unless there seems to be a medical need to know. We do our own on farm spit testing to see if they may be bred, then sit and wait for 11-12 months. We keep a detailed log of our breeding’s and whom we breed to whom. There are plenty of small and big outfits out there who do breeding any number of different ways. Some I agree with, some I do not. I for one prefer to know that within a certain appropriate time frame I could be expecting a cria. This way I can appropriately plan for the farm and our personal schedules. Each farm is different. I discuss in detail with potential buyers the way we do things here and hope that for the well being of the alpacas it is carried on to the next farm if the sale happens. I think having alpacas is like having kids-there are some definite do’s and don’ts and the rest is subjective to the “parents” and their beliefs.
Alpaca ownership is such a rewarding lifestyle that I continue to learn and grow from. Hope you enjoy our 'Happy little surprise' as much as we do!