Sunday, June 18, 2017

In Praise of Older Females and Other Musings

Man In Motion, Dam Nuzzling

Man In Motion, Dam Nuzzling

Well, as I write this, our farm is in the full throes of farm babies. My brother secretly allowed all his Toulouse geese to set eggs -- as if I would not notice, mind you -- and all of a sudden I heard the peeps coming from the antique barn and then the cutest goslings were running hither, thither and yon. My Royal Palm turkeys have no poults as yet, but they figured out the egg sitting business, and my Tom is basically the main egg sitter! So, I suspect we will see poults hatching naturally. I had given up on the possibility of naturally raised and hatched poults this year and had bought an incubator. It now seems superfluous.

Today, we had our first cria of the season. As every alpaca breeder knows, the first cria is always the "cutest" thing, period. The dam is one of my oldest home-grown females, sired by my import B-line Accoyo male, Powerball. She was left out of the line-up for quite a number of years, as I was breeding her champion daughter for one thing, but then I realized that, if I wanted to achieve a line-breeding of the most powerful dam to ever grace my farm that Quarterback Princess, who is a granddaughter, was just the ticket to breed to my most famous home-bred and born male, Hidden Hill Peruvian Dually, himself a son of the same awesome dam. Now the dam in question was CP Chilam and, with the exception of her first cria born to me, who I sold once she had produced Quarterback Princess (figuring I would probably get another Chilam daughter -- hah), all I ever got from her were the most phenomenal MALES. So, why should I be one bit surprised that, in this dam line breeding effort, Quarterback Princess rewards me with the first male she has ever produced. Chilam, you are laughing at me from those golden pronking pastures -- and I know it. It's okay, though, as Man In Motion appears to be another gorgeous male. But my high praise for older females is, quite simply put, this: you know these girls, and you know their ways. Most of them do NOT want your assistance in anything. In fact, I was busy cleaning the barn, refilling the hay feeders and just starting to feed out the morning feed supplement when I looked out into the paddock -- and there was a cria, sac hanging all over it, walking around! I slipped into the paddock from a side entrance, and dipped the navel. I then finished putting out the feed, got my brother to help me set up a bonding pen in the center of the action for socialization reasons, and opened the door and let everyone in. You can get a good mom to follow you anywhere -- just pick up the cria. Quarterback Princess followed me into the bonding pen, in spite of the distraction of the morning feed ration! I tried introducing the kid to mom's udder but QB would have nothing to do with THAT! Silly me, she does it HER way! So, I went back to the farmhouse to get another cup of coffee, as I should know by now that QB is a total DIY dam, and face it, that is easier on all concerned. By the time I went back up, she had expelled the placenta and had taught the little guy to nurse like he'd been doing it for months.

So, for all those who sell off those tried and true-blue older gals, I can only say this: someone else will benefit from having a female that knows just how it's done, and maybe those "new models" you buy to replace them will do a great job, too, but you won't know that until you see them at work. Now, I am not advocating holding onto totally unimproved females, simply because they are great dams, particularly if you do not think you would want a male from them (that is the acid test, really -- if you don't want a male from a female, then sell that female; okay, you keep them if you are in the business of doing ET maybe) but in the case where you have a proven female -- especially one that is emblematic of your own program -- and she has the goods to make top quality cria and you have a history of how she will deal with a birth, those girls are GOLD in my book.
Man In Motion, still wet

Man In Motion, still wet

Dam, Not Too Typey but...

Dam, Not Too Typey but...