Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Splitting the Girls

With the addition of the newest shelter, we plan to move the juvi and yearling/ 2 year old girls into that area. This would include: Rose, Twilight, Gigi, Mysteria, Lady Bing, Dutch and Princess.

As it is now, we have all our females in one ares - the juvis (Lady Bing, Dutch, Princess), yearlings/2 year olds (Rose, Twilight, Gigi, Mysteria), maidens (Jewel) and older dams (Miss Kitty, Victoria, Maddie, Sancha, Tehya, Latte, and Bay). They total 15 female alpacas.

There are two issues with this:

1) This summer we will have 8 cria born on our farm. This means adding 8 to the 15 already there. I don't think their current shelter will house that many (though they only use it in poor weather, they still need to be assured some shelter if there is bad weather). Surely yearlings and juvis can get along with cria, but, I kind of like the idea of the rough and tumble young ones being out of there so the dams and cria can have a more calm space for birthing and caring for newborns.

2) We pride ourselves on having a farm small enough that we can tailor each alpaca's grain to their own needs. This means feeding the skinny ones more grain and the chubby ones less grain. I actually do scoop out the grain knowing exactly who's bowl it is and how much they get. Some of the really skinny ones get different grain added to their bowl (such as calf manna).

While I do separate them now at grain time, I have a few that really aren't in the right spot (for example Latte used to be quite skinny, so she eats in the area originally for skinny girls, but now she's not skinny, but I can't get her to go in the other area. At the same time Bay eats in the same area as Latte and she is so skinny I'm worried about her). With less in each area to begin with, it will be easier for me to separate out the skinny and the not skinny and the chubby ones.

This isn't so much an issue for the juvis and yearlings/2 year olds. Though I do think I will have the older bunch eat together (Rose, Twilight, Gigi and Mysteria) and the juvis together (Lady Bing, Dutch and Princess).

For the older dams this is a big issue. Miss Kitty and Victoria continue to be our chubby girls. They don't need any additional grain, and in fact get a very small ration. These two are already separated out at grain time in the paddock (where they almost always fight over their two very small bowls of grain). The other 6 dams are a mess, they are separated out completely wrong for grain time right now. They are mixed in with the juvis and yearlings too, which only compounds the problem. Ideal would be for a skinny area for: Tehya, Sancha, and Bay. I could add any girl in there if as they deliver their cria they lose weight (I know in the past both Maddie and Latte have been thin while nursing a cria). The ones that are right on track, getting a normal portion on grain would ideally be: Maddie, Latte, and Jewel. That makes 8 pregnant girls in 3 areas.

I know another option would be to separate them into the two shelters by skinny and not skinny girls (not by age). But then do you put the juvis in with the skinny ones? I don't want the more aggressive older ones stealing grain from the young juvis, but I also don't want the young juvis getting into the higher protein grain for the skinny ones..... and so on.

We have separated them this way before and felt it worked well. Course if this time we don't like it, I can always change it up again ;)

Now the biggest trick will be making this change. Alpacas are extremely used to routine. I can separate them easily at grain time if I stick with the same old same old routine. A new routine will make every one of them up in arms. I realize this shake up will take a few days to accomplish. But, in the end I will be able to easily feed them, and then I will have them each in the right spot. Wish me luck!!

1 comment:

Kathryn Ray said...

My experience is that the re-arranging causes a shuffling of the pecking order, but it's usually resolved in a few days.

Generally our girls are more tolerant than the in-tact boys.

The in-tact boys always pick on the smallest one. So we have them separated by big boys, little boys and girls. Our gelding is technically a big boy, but since he's without testosterone he's with the little boys.

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