Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spit Testing

Today we decided to spit test our pregnant females. This is a fairly reliable way to determine if they are holding their pregnancy. I say *fairly* reliable because it's not a perfect method, and it's reliability depends greatly on who is doing it and how. We've been breeding for three years now, and have carefully watched how our females act both pregnant and not pregnant. Our first couple of years of breeding, we had a vet do an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy for sure. Last year was the first year we opted not to follow up with an ultrasound. All of our girls were pregnant, as we had spit tested to be the case.

The reason it is called Spit Testing is because you bring a male to the female as if to breed them, if pregnant, the female will spit at the male. An open female will drop to be bred. Though specific behavior for each female varies to some extent, the basic idea is that a pregnant female will not let a male breed them and will do whatever necessary to keep him away.

This year we did take Snickers and Tehya to have an ultra sound done. We did this a few months ago, because we could not tell if Snickers was pregnant or not. Snickers is new to our farm, so we had no frame of reference to determine her behavior at spit testing. Tehya is a maiden and we weren't sure how to read her either. Both ultra-sounded as pregnant, so we used that information to show how they behave at spit testing when pregnant. Since alpacas can absorb a pregnancy, just because they ultrasounded as pregnant then, does not mean they have held onto that pregnancy, so we knew we'd be spit testing them in the future to see if the pregnancy is holding.

Today J brought Tucker back to the girls area to test all our pregnant girls. At this point in the season, it's too late to rebred them. Their pregnancy lasts on average 11.5 months. In our location, it's not ideal to have a newborn cria in October or November. The latest we'd prefer would be early September. So, testing them today was only for our information. Any female that showed to be open, will be held open until spring.

We were especially curious to see if Kateri has held onto her pregnancy from Lightning. The farm that has Lightning now has expressed concern that none of their females are showing as pregnant. We are very happy to say that Kateri spit tested as pregnant. Kateri is a girl who we have had since the start of our farm, and is very easy to determine pregnancy with spit testing. She's a crabby pregnant lady.

Sancha, Victoria, Lucy, Snickers, and Tehya all spit tested as pregnant. We knew Latte is open, we did not breed her because she arrived at our farm in October with a newborn cria. We planned to hold her open until Spring. The only one who we hoped was pregnant but is not, is Maddie. Unfortunately she spit tested as open. She dropped to the ground and was ready to be bred. So she will be held open this year and bred early next spring. While that is a disappointment, we are thankful only one tested this way.

4 comments:

Ertman-Trowbridge Family said...

Wow! You have a lot of babies coming your way next year! I cannot wait to meet them.

And I love it: Spit testing. I wonder if it works for humans? Well, I never did spit at my husband while preggers, so probably not. But I did yell some awful nasty things at him.

Cathy said...

By the way, I was gonna let you know that this past week at least 2 of my girls bred to Lightning did indeed spit off for the second consecutive week. That's a good sign, but we'll see what happens this week!

Oak Haven Alpacas said...

Oh Cathy, I'm so glad to hear that! When you said none where showing pregnant I was beginning to get worried. I can't wait to see what Lightning produces, his fiber is amazing.

Cara

Oak Haven Alpacas said...

Valerie - I think human female have their own spit test. I knew I was pg the second time around because I craved chinese food LOL Funny cause Zack does not like it, but for some reason I craved that the entire pg. In fact, that first time I craved it, it was so early on I hadn't tested yet, but when I told my husband I was hungry for chinese food he said "you have to be pregnant." Yep.

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