Saturday, April 7, 2012

If alpacas could talk

We aren't quite ready to move the younger girls into their new area, but I was getting very concerned about Bay. She's been thin since she arrived at our farm last fall (the picture above is of her at her previous farm). We attempted to feed her additional grain, but somehow the area where she eats grain ended up getting a lot of other eaters (it was poor planning on my part, as new alpacas arrived at our farm, I added them to that area without much thought). So, she has remained thin. What concerned me greatly is that recently she has been acting tired and worn out. Whenever I looked out at the alpacas, Bay would be sleeping, or cushed down, or laying down. Alpacas do sleep, they do cush, they do lay down, but much of the time I see them feeding on hay. Bay was laying down much more than the rest of the herd.

I decided I needed to find a way to get her extra grain - now! Even though we aren't really set up to do that just yet, I needed to try. So on Monday afternoon I set out to find a way to get her more grain. Everyone was actually done eating grain, I was putting out hay, when I saw Bay cush down. This is not normal. Most alpacas flood to me when I put out new hay and gobble it up. I got both of my kids and told them we were going to get Bay by herself in the backyard.. Bay was cushed and was unaware that I was about to grab her. I managed to get her by the neck as she stood up. She's fairly new to our farm so not real sure about me, but let me hold her neck and guide her to the backyard (thankfully I didn't have to halter her). The kids helped open gates and made sure no other alpacas came in the backyard. I put down a bowl with 2 cups of grain. I knew that was a lot (1/2 a cup twice a day is our typical feeding for a regular size alpaca).

As soon as she started eating, I could see Victoria on the other side of the fence. If alpacas could talk, Victoria would have said something like "why does she get extra grain?" Zack was laughing because he could see the sense on Victoria's face of how unfair this was. Oh well. Victoria may be the herd leader, but she tends to be a chubby girl and no way does she need more grain.

Bay ate the entire 2 cups. Then she looked for me. I debated but decided not to feed her more. Alpacas have a pretty delicate digestive system and I didn't want to upset it too much more. If I could have, I would have put her in a pen with high alfalfa hay, but we don't have that option.

When I let Bay back into the area with the rest of the herd, she walked out, but she turned and looked back at me. I will never forget the look in her eyes. She has never looked at me like that before. It was as if she was saying "Thank you." The look in her eyes was of pure appreciation for that added grain. And even more great is the fact that after eating that she did go over and munch on hay.

The next day, Zack and I were haltering Princess and at the same time managed to get Bay into the backyard alone. I again fed her 2 extra cups of grain.

On day 3 I just shook a bowl of grain near Bay and she followed me into the area. Same thing on day 4. All it took was two times of getting her there for her to know and come on her own.

Thankfully of all our girls she is due last. We have until September to fatten her up:

A big help will be when we move her 2011 cria, Dutch, into the new area, and she can't nurse anymore. Between being pregnant and nursing Dutch, poor Bay is just plain worn out. We had hoped she would wean Dutch on her own, but that hasn't happened yet (Dutch is plenty old and plenty big to be weaned, in fact she was in an alpaca show last month, but still didn't wean). Bay is one of those moms who gives her all, bless her.


Louellen Lawson said...

Aw, give her a scoop of feed for me too!

Cathy said...

Have you thought of having a fecal done on her? I am worried about parasites with the mild winter we had. Having the vet out Friday and will send him home with bags of beans :)

oak haven alpacas said...

that is a thought, Cathy. I too am very worried the mild winter will mean more vicious parasites. We are headed to the vet this week anyway (pre-show vet cert) so might as well get a fecal too. I do think she's thin from not enough food and still nursing. Now that she's getting more grain and we weaned (put her 2011 cria in another pen), I am hoping she'll fatten up. But if it's a parasite all the food will be for nothing. Have to get that under control first.

Pin It button on image hover