Sunday 29th January 2017

Weaning, not just yet!!
Alpacas certainly know how to look elegant. This is Mercury two days ago, enjoying the last moments of the evening sunlight. Mercury is now over six months old and her confidence is really growing. She won’t come near enough to be touched yet but she does not ‘hang out’ at the back of the group quite as much as she used to.
Relaxed at Home
She is still taking milk from mum but not as much as she did. Saturn tends to walk away after a while which is what a lot of nursing animals do - we have seen it with our goats and sheep too. It is a natural form of weaning which is perfect if you are happy to leave mum and offspring together, which we usually are, but with livestock generally, it is very common for smallholders/farmers to decide when weaning should take place and to separate adults and youngsters accordingly.
There are two main issues to be aware of if you prefer weaning to be natural and one or both of these are usually the reasons behind why the farmer makes the decision as to when it happens. One is that you don’t want the nursing female to lose too much body condition by continuing to give milk, in many cases extra feed can be given to help with this but you don’t want to do this for months on end. The second issue is that if the adult animal is pregnant then her last trimester is the time when the developing foetus does most of its growing and therefore it is not advisable for there to be any extra stress on the body – such as a suckling youngster!!
Saturn is due to give birth again in June (possibly – we don’t yet know she is definitely pregnant) and as such she is only just over half way through her gestation period. Her body condition is quite good at the moment. She is getting her fair share of pellets at feed time so we are not worried about her at all.
As ever, keeping a close eye on our animals is a huge part of ensuring things go well and be able to pick things up before they become a major problem - and we are lucky enough to be able to check ours at least three, sometimes four times a day!!!