Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This morning when I got to the barn the alpacas were all gathered around their hay pool   ( I put hay in a baby swimming pool,  alpacas are grazers,  eating grass from the ground,  so hay needs to be kept low so they are in the natural feeding position and don’t choke).

  No one was eating,  then I herd faint chirping coming from the hay.  And one of the chickens was frantically running around the pool.    Digging around I found one little chick all fluffy and yellow with a brown strip down his back and little black mask around his eyes.   I rescued him,  putting him in my pocket, but I hear more chirping from the hay.   A little more digging and I find a broken shell and a very wet,  newly hatched chick struggling to right himself.     I think the egg has rolled from the rafters and fallen in the hay,  I don’t think it was time for Hobbles to hatch yet.

 Both chicks moved into the kitchen in the hamster cage with a heat lamp,  Hubert,  the first chick I found is doing great,  Hobbles,  the second chick can not support his weight with his legs,  they just slid out from under him like he is doing the splits.   I tried tying a piece of yarn around his legs to help him keep them under himself but then he fell on his face.  This is called hobbling,  and is done with many shapes and sizes of live stock if they are weak at birth.   Hubert knows he is weak and picks on him.  The cats love to sit on top of the cage and dream of chicken salad for lunch.  Hubert is very noisy,  he does not like cracked corn,  he likes Doritos.   Hobbles likes cheerios.
   More on Hubert and hobbles to come…. 

I told  my pen pal  in California about the alpacas and she tells me she raises butterflies.  She has to get them little bales of hay, (milkweed?)  or whatever it is the butterflies eat and make sure they have water and their other needs are met.  Just like alpacas.   This leads me to a lot of questions;
    Do you selectively breed the butterflies for better butterfly traits such as color, fiber, conformation, reproductive abilities?    Alpacas do.
    When the babies arrive do you have to dip their belly button in novascan to prevent infection?  Alpacas do
    Do they need assistance in the birthing process?  Alpacas usually don’t but once in a while,  usually its not to hard.
    Do you have to strip the waxy plugs from the mama butterflies teets for ease of milking?  It helps with alpacas,  but they can get it on their own too.
    How many teets do they have?  Alpacas have four.
    How long do they remain with the mama?  Alpacas babies nurse for 6 to 8 months.
    What is the gestation period?  Alpacas gestation is 11 ½ months

Do you halter train them?   I like to halter train my cria from the day they are born,  some people wait till they are weening from their moms
Do they have butterfly shows?  Alpaca shows are lots of fun and there are lots of them all over the country.
Here is her response:

 problems of you have to pick up lost babies? How do you feed them when you run of hay and there is none in town? Must you bring a spot light outside so that they have enough warmth to complete the spinning of their cacoon  or trying to come out. Must you build temporary shelters for the same purpose...(large canvas sheets for just one caterpillar so she can pupate), do they destroy all the plants that you buy for $25 each? Must you save them from the street as they wander aimlessly searching for a good spot? Must you wait to prune your garden until they emerge and fly away? Do the mothers stay around..or just drop their kids off and expect you to raise them (the later)? Do you find that their bodies have been replaced with wasps? Are they born handicapped and can't fly? Does the Dad ever check in or drop by for lunch (no),   ha contest...butterfly herds are so simple...

Would you rather raise butterflys or alpacas?