From the early days of Watership Alpacas, carefully selected outside studs have helped improve the herd, so the herd has benefited from some of the best genetics. Recently, studs with champion fathers have joined the herd. The latest baby alpacas (cria) are looked forward to each Spring, each always with a different look and character. As we are members of the British Alpaca Society that co-ordinate all aspects of alpaca welfare and management, all our cria are registered and microchipped.
Alpacas are halter trained from 6 months, which not only being enjoyable to do, also makes all handling easier and prepares the alpacas for showing or for eventual walking ventures with a new owner. Protection from harsh weather, biosecurity and calm, easy alpaca handling was built into the farm design. Manure is removed from paddocks, composted, then redistributed for good forage production. Noxious weeds are removed by hand. Nutritious herbs are encouraged as these deep rooted plants provide excellent alpaca nutrition.
Watership Alpacas are all named after rocks. The family geology books usefully list rocks from white to black and all the colours and variations in between. And you can usually make a short name from each rock name for every-day use. So there is Watership Albite (Albie-a white rock) and Watership Magnetite (Maggie-a black rock). Well, it gives an interesting pastime each spring!
Caring for Rosie-a Premature Cria
As always with animals, there are ups and downs. One Spring, a cria was born 4 weeks premature, with the vet not holding out much hope. The cria (Rosie we called here at the request of a granddaughter who had seen her on video-call from New Zealand) could not stand to feed, so we kept her in a stable with her mum and an “auntie” for company. We fed Rosie by bottle while also holding her up to mum each time so her mum’s milk would keep flowing. We also milked mum a little to provide the early colostrum. As Rosie could not stand or walk, we moved her legs for her, straightened them and put pressure on her feet, as if she was standing, in the hope this would strengthen her muscles. For about 5 days, we did all this every three hours night and day (adding water bottles under her at night as it was still quite chilly in early May). And Rosie grew, started feeding from mum by herself and thrived. She soon caught up with the other cria and still likes to be made a fuss of!