Birthing Season at Beck Brow 2021
Birthing at Beck Brow Alpacas
Well, that’s the birthing season finished for yet another year at Beck Brow. It always brings with it mixed emotions. The anticipation each day of cria being born is gone. The excitement and expectation with every new arrival will have to wait until next year. However, it usually takes a week of wistfulness and then I remember what it is like to be free. To be unshackled from the birthing paddock.
Overall we have had a very good year. Each year I hope and pray for a 100% success rate but despite our best efforts we never quite make it. I only mention these because despite our vast experience it happens to us all and it’s important to be real about this. We had 69 cria born including two stillborn (both at 330 days gestation so each should have been viable). We have also had two losses. One a boy I mentioned in my last blog who succumbed to sepsis but on post mortem (PM) had large brain lesions so was never going to survive long term. The other we lost at two months of age. She had shown no signs of illness. Whilst the PM initially pointed to sepsis this was later dismissed when nothing was cultured and the final report was inconclusive.
Exciting but also busy, as 65 cria have all been weighted daily for their first two weeks of life and twice-weekly thereafter (you can’t really call this work I know). Nine of those are agisted with us. Leaving 56 owned by ourselves. We have had a great year for girls with 33 being born belonging to Beck Brow. However, six of those have gone at foot with their dams to new owners (yes all the alpacas purchased went on to birth females here!). The final tally still with us is 27 to the girls and 23 to the boys. So no complaints here.
Most of the 2021 drop have now been named. Although, the allocation of stud names is somewhat provisional. I have high hopes for Beck Brow Making No Apologies, but if I am wrong and he turns out to be sorry, then he will be given something from the cute name list instead!
Just some of the Huacaya pictured below (we have 6 Suri 4 of which are girls but not enough sun to capture them yesterday). Click to enlarge and for the slide show.
Every year we have at least one cria with an umbilical herniation. This year it was one of our agisted females. We have in the past used hernia belts with varying success but last year we used vet wrap on two which worked really well. Whilst one of us used a finger to push in the hernia the other wrapped the bandage around reasonably tightly. We then use a second roll so most of the torso is wrapped (if you don’t include the breast bone the wrap slips too far back). We tried this again this year leaving in place for 3 weeks and voila cured again.
Things, on the whole, have been pretty straightforward this year, but we do get through a few bottles of frozen cows colostrum (this is to ensure we don’t have any failure of passive transfer, ideally the cria gets adequate colostrum from the dam within the first 6 hours to help with immunity, but this doesn’t always happen if left to their own devices). Often this is just to get the cria going. Those ones who are looking for milk, but in all the wrong places, get a shot of vitamin B1 and then some defrosted colostrum if not feeding at three hours. We rarely use plasma. This would only be given to cria who were too weak to feed or very premature (low birth weight). Of course, the bovine colostrum must come from a farm with very good biosecurity measures to avoid any transmissible diseases. We do find that cria given 300mls or more of colostrum often get constipated and just need a soapy enema.
Most of the cria started on hard feed really early this year. Probably helped by all the extra space created by the new barn. Lots of trough space always helps. They initially just copy mum and then eventually we end up with ‘cria troughs’ where we have a row of little fluffy bums lined up.
Looking forward to next year already
It’s always such a busy time of the year looking after the birthing paddocks, the cria already born, and supervising all the matings (of maidens and those 21 days post birthing). Whilst I love being flat out, we have at last succumbed to installing hard-wired CCTV around the farm. Trying to be two places at once had Paul do over 20,000 steps by late afternoon many a day and one day 33,000 (I was a little bit less!).
We have mated and spat-off 91 females (of ours and agisted) on the farm, although some have been sold and have left and some are still to go. In addition, we have done some outside matings (drive-by), but now keep these to a minimum because of the amount of work the boys have here. I actually just totted this up now. Those of you who know Paul will be able to match his expression to the NINTY ONE!!!!! escaping from his mouth.
Lots to be excited about for next year. Not least Limestone Red who has met with many of our best-coloured females including Kiss Me Quick and Campari. We are excited to see what he can do. He has so many positive traits not least amazing fleece growth (he was shorn a month after ours and still has one of the best regrowths). We have also used Beck Brow Come As You Are (modern grey) over all of our blacks. Also new for 2021 are Beck Brow Glory Daze (white) and Beck Brow Looks The Business (fawn).
Let us hope we get to have some alpacas in the show ring before the next birthing season ….