Wednesday, January 6, 2010


There are different views on when and how to wean. Some alpaca farmers believe in letting nature take it's course, let the mom and baby decide when and how. Some farms have a set weight that the cria has to get to when they will wean them, or a certain age. I've heard of farms that once the cria turns 6 months old, they move the cria into a pen away from their mom and wean them that way. There is not set "right" way, all farmers need to evaluate what they feel is best and works well for them.

I firmly believe mother's milk is best for a cria, and ideally I would like nature to take it's course and let the mother and child wean on their own. But, I think some of our mom's are so attentive, they will tend to their baby's needs to their own determent.

The first year we had Sancha, we were not doing body scoring correctly and we did not realize she had gotten so thin. This lead to our having to wean Lightning at a very early age. Certainly not ideal. From that experience, we learned that we really have to keep the dam's weight up prior to birth, so they can feed their cria well. This year we did a great job keeping Sancha's weight up. We did not have to worry about weaning Lily early.

Now we have seven month old Lily who is over 80 pounds! She is eating grain well and has been eating hay since she was quite young. She is past the age or weight that many farms set for weaning. We were watching Sancha to see if she would wean Lily on her own. Often Sancha was kicking Lily off, but there were other times we caught Lily feeding. She's old enough and big enough, and we know it's time to fatten Sancha up for her next delivery in a few months. So we decided we would intervene, and move Lily.

We also noticed that while Kateri was kicking Po off and not letting her feed very often, Po was pestering her mom until she would give in and let her feed. Kateri seemed annoyed by her baby's requests. Kateri isn't near as thin as Sancha, but she is on the thin side. We watch her weight closely so that it does not become a problem.

Our problem came in that we only have one pen for the girls. We have too many boys to allow these weanlings to stay there. So we were left without a place to separate Lily and Po from their moms. We asked our friends at Ashton Stone Alpacas if they would take our weanlings for a couple weeks to give their mom's enough time to dry up. So Lily and Po are on a vacation at Ashton Stone Alpacas. I've heard they are doing well. I hope this will work as a way to wean them, and give their moms time to build up for their impending births.

1 comment:

Noah and Jillian Schwander said...

Lily and Po are doing really well over here! They are fitting in well with the herd and caught onto meal time right away! Lily is just the friendliest little alpaca. She runs up to me every time I come into the barn and touches her nose to mine!

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