— The Openherd Team

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Grazing Hills Alpaca Ranch

Remembering our roots...bringing our dreams to life!

Cory and Katie DeWinkle
1042 Four Mile RoadViola, ID 83872
208.882.8307
208.919.8307
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

GESTATIONAL MICROWAVE

At two days

At two days

At three months

At three months

It was a lovely Saturday in June, breezy with a warm sun. The pregnant females were grazing on green grass while I mowed the adjacent pasture. I was watching the fat bellies and wondering what was growing inside. My mental meanderings were interrupted by a cell phone -- shocking since we hardly ever have reception on the farm. Eddie was having truck issues about an hour from home, and he needed a ride. I cleaned up a bit and having checked the one female that was due, jumped in the car and headed for the highway. Since it was noon-ish we grabbed some lunch on the way home and rolled into the yard about two and a half hours after my departure. As I glanced over to the females on pasture I thought it was odd that they were all cushed in a small area. And then…you know that wave of almost nausea that comes when you realize something is very wrong…yes, my heart hit bottom when I made out the form of a small cria stretched out next to the new mom. There didn't appear to be any movement. We made it through a couple of gates in record time. There was life in the small body, but it seemed rather feeble. I gathered up the cria in my arms, supporting her head and neck and started for the barn. It was then that I realized she was NOT from the dam that was due; the real mother got up to follow us. I tried to quickly calculate how far along she had been…this was impossible. It couldn't be hers. I glanced at the board in the barn as I went by…one off the farm breeding August 8th; this was June 13th. We've had some preemies before but nothing like this. A million questions ran through my head: would her lungs be compromised?...would she be able to hold her head up, let alone stand and nurse?...would the dam have colostrum?...would the cria even be mature enough to absorb it? We finished drying her off and got her in a cush position. She didn't seem as under cooked as we would have expected, and she was beginning to hold her head erect. There were no teeth erupted, and she was fairly small, but we found she could support herself on the little legs. She had a good suckle reflex and was soon looking for her first meal. So then the question arose…is this actually a cria from that mating on August 8th? There was a lot of doubt among fellow breeders, as well as our vets, since the gestation would have been only 309 days. Were we sure she hadn't been bred earlier on the farm?...maybe one of those oops-the-gate-wasn't-latched issues? We watched her closely for a couple months to see if she would thrive. I finally couldn't stand the suspense any longer and sent off the blood card. The dam was only exposed to the male once in a drive by breeding, and the registration confirmed that he is the sire. The little lady is just over three months, and she weighed 46 pounds the other day. Now we are wondering when exactly we need to start watching her dam for signs of impending birth!! She is due again in July of 2016, and I'm sure we will drive her nuts staring at her back end. Ah well, the price you pay for doing things outside the norm!