Last week, February 17th, six of our girls were scanned to check whether they will be producing baby cria this Summer. Three we were pretty certain were carrying a baby but the other three had only been mated once and pregnancy was uncertain.
Sam arrived with her portable ultrasound machine to scan each of these girls to verify whether they are pregnant (or not).
We were very surprised that all but one of the six are carrying a young one and especially pleased that both Carla and Bianca are pregnant. Both will be first time mums and are carrying cria sired by Yew Tree sires Jimmy and Joseph - both of whom will be first time dads. This confirmed we have five girls who will be giving birth for sure, however we still had to confirm an additional four girls who were not ultrasound scanned on the 17th.
Later last week we 'spat off' these girls, this is the method used by most of the UK's larger alpaca breeders and is a much cheaper option for large herds. This involves introducing the male to the female to record her reaction. If she welcomes the male and is keen to become more friendly then it is very likely she is not pregnant. In contrast if she spits at the male and rejects him then the likelihood is she is pregnant
We brought Jimmy and Joseph over from their nearby grazing to test them out! The results - two clearly spat at the boys - Jessica and Belinda, however the other two were less conclusive Maria and Jennifer. neither actually spat but both were negative and definitley unfriendly!
In summary we are therefore likey to see between 7 and 9 new cria joining us this year assuming of course we are fortunate and all goes to plan with no birthing difficulties. There's a long time from when our girls are mated to when the babies arrive...the gestation period in alpacas is 11-11½ months, so ensuring we look after the mums carefully over this time to ensure healthy cria is paramount.
For those of you who know our girls here's the list of mum's to be...(those highlighted are mated to Yew Tree boys)