Sunday, March 2, 2008

New Barn Arrangements

On Saturday I moved Snowstorm, Maddie and Sommerfield to the new barn. We decided this would be best with Sommerfield being so attached to her mom, Sancha. Sancha is due with a new baby in April (though their window of having the baby could be a month earlier or a month later). We want Sancha to get a break from Sommerfield (she often spits her off, carely annoyed with her). And we want to make sure the new cria is safe. Likely all would be fine with them all remaining together, but since we can separate the pregnant ones, we might as well do so and play it safe. We have heard stories of other alpacas harming the new cria, espeically when it's first born and still weak. We want to make sure the cria is strong enough before having the young girls around it. After the cria is born we will reevaluate the separate herds and decide where to go from there. But it depends how strong the new cria is.

So I separated them, then fed them. I wanted Snowstorm and the young girls to view the new barn as a good place with food! Then I filled the hay bucket and water bucket. They ate but then realized they were cut off from the others and started fighting with each other. I thought Snowstorm was annoyed at Sommerfield because she kept humming (whining and crying). J thinks Snowstorm was asserting his dominance, that he is leader of that pack. That makes sense.

Victoria did not like that she was the only one in the barn at feeding time. I moved Kateri and Sancha into the pasture because Victoria steals their food. Victoria has gotten too heavy which puts her at risk for having a difficult labor and difficulty producing good milk. We need to slim her down some (the cria will get what nutrients it needs, just like in a human the baby gets what it needs, the mom is the one who depletes, but we will make sure not to cut her back too much because she is pregnant). After the gate to the pasture with Kateri and Sancha was open, Victoria was fine.

Sommerfield continued to hum and Kateri did also. Sancha just stood around and looked. Snowstorm got into a few spitting matches with Sommerfield. Emma got very upset about it saying that Snowstorm was being too mean to a baby girl. I did watch and Sommerfield held her own, though I do think Snowstorm is leader of that pack!

In the afternoon I took a walk and went by the pasture/barn several times. I found at times Snowstorm and the girls were in their barn eating, and the pregnant girls were by the gate between the two pastures. At other times the pregnant girls were in their barn and Snowstorm and the young girls were by the gate. They did seem to want to be together. Sommerfield was by far the most upset, most often standing by the gate trying to get through. But that just shows why we need to separate her from her mom. She is too attached and with a new cria on the way it is past time for Sommerfield to break that bond. It is sad to see her so upset. But I think about when Maddie first came to our farm, she looked for her mom and hummed. But she survived and is doing fine. Sommerfield will too.

I felt bad leaving them separated over night. At first I debated letting them all be together over night and then separating again in the morning. But given how difficult it was to herd the right ones in the right pasture/barn. And given how insistant Sommerfield is in getting back to her mom. I decided that letting them be together overnight would just make it harder to separate them in the morning. They will sort it out.

It will be interesting to see how they are this morning.

Another big change is that Snowstorm, Maddie and Sommerfield will be switched to only eating grain once a day. That is all they need (technically they do not need grain at all, but some is good for fiber production). I have been feeding two times a day for the pregnant girls. But it was too hard when they were all together to just feed them and not the younger girls and Snowstorm. Now that they are separate, I can just feed the pregnant ones. I expect when I go down there to have some objection, especially from Snowstorm. But they will get use to this change. I will make sure they have plenty of hay and water.


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