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Well it's Crying Time
Author: Deb Wright
Well it’s crying time again
You’re going to wean them
You can see the fuss from the house
You can hear the cries for
Mommy from here
Oh there won’t be peace until it done
You know the tune and if you have weaned your cria you know what you are going to hear each time you go to the barn.
For those of you who haven’t experienced it, it is something to deal with.
So why bother to wean the cria anyhow?
The reasons are many, the most important one may well be that Mom isn’t going to do it and she needs some time to regain weight before the next cria is born.
Remember that the growing fetus will begin rapid growth late in gestation.
The dam really needs to have time to prepare her body for this next heavy load.
Another weaning prompt may be that the little dears are trying to act like men and you have to get them away from the open females of all ages.
I heard that it was proven that an alpaca did impregnate another at the tender age of six months.
Now, I do not know this for fact, I didn’t see the records that proved this; however I am not taking a chance.
Keep in mind the Dr. Sumar, in one of his recorded seminars, stated that in Peru they pick the male that is successful at one year to use as a herd sire.
Pregnancy aside, they also mess up the fiber on the one on the bottom, and I don’t think it is good to have them trying, it may risk infections.
More to our schedule, they need to be weaned long enough so that they can show or maybe to go to their new home.
There some dams that will wean for you and they are wonderful.
One day you realize that you haven’t seen Fluffy nurse in you don’t know how long, so you start watching to see if you are right.
Alpacas are not all the same, each is an individual, in combination with their personality type and their own being.
This of course affects how tough weaning will be on the individual.
I find that the males have a real hard time leaving their Moms; the bond is different than with the females.
So what are you in for?
Generally, you can expect to hear lots of crying on the part of the cria and Mom may decide that she wants to put in her objections too.
Now at first this will be pretty much a constant stream of complaints.
It does help if your cria have friends to help to distract them for a bit.
You will also be impressed by the how hard the little guy will try to reach his Mom.
One of my favorites is the cria on one side of the fence and the dam on the other, the cria is nursing by reaching though the fence.
I have had to put up fine mesh at weaning times when I couldn’t get air space between the pens.
The fussing does die down after a couple of days, the way I judge how he is doing is I listen without going to the barn.
Just in case you don’t know it, they do put on quite a show for our benefit so it is important to, shall we say, spy on them.
If they are only crying when they know I’m there I don’t worry about them.
I usually start by separating for a couple of hours and then returning them.
This starts to get them used to being without Mom and finding that it is okay.
I put the pair together in the area where the cria will stay and move the dam in and out.
She will be better able to handle the stress than the cria.
I gradually extend the amount of time apart to them only spending time enough to nurse twice daily.
If they are doing okay I go to once a day then 36 then 48 hours.
It is time to keep them apart now.
They settle down within a day or two.
Part of the reason I do the back down of once every 12, 24, 36 and 48 hours is to back off the milk production.
This I do in conjunction with reducing the dam’s feed and increasing the cria’s.
I do make a practice of not doing any training or any stressful stuff while they are weaning, that is enough stress by itself.
One last thing to keep in mind, it is less stressful on all if you plan to not being in a changing segment of the weaning during a time, like the holidays, when your stress is already up.
So if you find that something comes up in the middle of weaning, just mark time and hold them at a level that they are used to.
When the dust settled, pick up where you paused and go on.
Hopefully this will help to keep the crying to a minimum and make the process less stressful for you as well.
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