Thursday, April 15, 2010

Warms Days - water and rolling

Not that it's been that hot here yet, but we did hit the mid 70's on Sunday. It was one of those days where the breeze feels warm, even in the morning. A day you expect in the summer, not early spring.

I didn't think it was hot out yet, but I suspected the girls were hot when they were gathering around me while I filled the water buckets:

Then, I caught Sancha trying to put her foot into the water (if you look very closely at the red bucket you can see her white leg coming out of it).

Sancha is our one alpaca who likes to cush in a swimming pool. All our other alpacas prefer having a hose of cold water sprayed on their chest/belly. Sancha loves a cold pool, and will try to turn a water bucket into a pool when she can. She won't put her foot in there when I'm standing nearby, but the second I walk away she will. We usually do not have water buckets on the ground because of this. We don't want her to put her foot in the drinking water, then have another alpaca drink out of it - yuck! Seeing her do this inspired me to get out the water bucket hangers. (I only recently added the unheated water buckets, the heated ones are hanging inside the shelter). As long as the buckets aren't on the ground, Sancha won't put her foot in them.

When I was getting hay out for the girls and cleaning out the water bucket Sancha got all gross, I noticed several of them rolling in the sand. When they are hot they will find a spot and roll. We have found that usually they have one or two spots in their area that are rolling spots (the boys have a couple spots too).

First I caught PoPo rolling, but she sat still before I snapped a picture:

I caught Victoria just as she was starting to roll:

I caught Sancha as she had completed a roll and was back on her belly:

Then I caught Sancha on her back with her legs in the air!

I decided the girls were hot. It was in the mid 60's by this point, the sun was shining bright, and the girls still have their winter coats on. I got out the hose and filled the pool for Sancha (distracting her from the water buckets). I have never seen Sancha cush so long inside the pool! Usually by the time I get the camera she's already out of the pool. In fact, some times I don't even see her in the pool. She'll wait until I walk away and then cush so fast by the time I look back she's already out of the pool (with her legs and belly wet as evidence).

Many of the other girls would gather around her, but none of them will get into the pool. After Sancha got out of the pool, I used the hose to spray the chest/belly of anyone who wanted it. Kateri ran from across the pasture to come get sprayed off. Maddie and Victoria were already fighting over the cool wet spray. I was surprised that some of our 2009 cria were willing to let me spray them. Usually the young ones are suspicious of it. I find most often it's the hot and miserable pregnant girls who are most interested in being sprayed down. I don't have a picture of me spraying them because I was busy spraying them ;)

I do want to add two words of warning. First, a warning about pools. There have been incidents of cria being born in pools and drowning. There are other incidents of young cria falling into a pool and drowning. Pools with water left in them can harbor bugs (mosquitoes for example) or worse, nasty parasites. I could see the water being a cause for infection such as mastitis or other infections. So, while we do use a pool, we also use caution. I never leave it full of water (which is even easier because ours has several cracks in it, it won't hold water). I also don't use a pool if I suspect impending birth. If there is water in the pool, one of us is out there watching. We drain it before we leave the area. It's a great way for Sancha to cool off (the only alpaca we have who will use it). Oh, and Spot used it quite a bit last year too :) But caution should also be exercised.

The second caution is about alpacas rolling. I could see someone looking up alpacas rolling and see this post and think it only means they are hot and all is fine. Hopefully that is all that it is. They do often roll when warm (or maybe it's that their backs itch). But, a pregnant alpaca can also roll if they have a uterine torsion or if they are having a very difficult birth. That is how we found Sancha when she was delivering Lightning, but he was stuck. It's their natural reaction to roll to push along a difficult labor. So if your rolling alpaca is a female near their due date, please do wait until they stand up to see if they were just rolling, or if they are in the middle of delivery. I almost ignored Sancha's difficult birth, thinking she was merely rolling. Had I not stopped and taken a second look, I would have never known she needed intervention with her delivery.

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