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Breeding season in full swing…

A potent 1-2 genetic punch: Elixir and his not quite 2 year-old brother, Centurion, working in the maiden/open female group earlier this month.

A potent 1-2 genetic punch: Elixir and his not quite 2 year-old brother, Centurion, working in the maiden/open female group earlier this month at the CCNF Arena.

The Herdsires here at CCNF have been working at full bore for about a month now. Though we normally don’t get things going in that regard here until around the 1st of July most years, with the family’s decision to take a quick early summer vacation to the UK at the end of June, yours truly and the gentlemen of the CCNF Stud Barn got to work about 10 days early this time around. See when people ask me what I do here, particularly this time of year, there is really only one true answer: I facilitate alpaca sex. In fact yesterday I facilitated it eight different times. See, told you so.

We did learn years ago how to best organize things so that it doesn’t feel like complete mayhem at the start of the breeding season. Long before June and July roll around Jen and I have gone over the herd list, deciding which of our open females will get bred and with whom we will breed them. That group of open girls is a mix of proven females that either birthed out late last year and were then left open, others who perhaps lost their pregnancies late in the year and were likewise held for spring/summer breeding, and of course our class of  yearling and 2 year-old maiden females whom we are breeding for the first time. It’s always a frenetic scene for the first week or so of the breeding season, as I grab Herdsires at the bottom of the farm, load them into our small trailer, and drive them up to the Arena where our female herd resides. Sometimes there are as many as 8 to 10 Herdsires on board that trailer and it can all feel a bit overwhelming when we’re first getting started. We did learn by trial and error that it makes things infinitely easier to manage if that initial group of open females are all housed together in one single feed group. It allows us to watch the behavioral cues of the other open females as breedings are taking place. Though that being said, the the first days of breeding in that feed group can feel like a bad flashback to adolescence: I like you, I hate you, I think I LOVE you, F*%@-off already! The alpaca boys and I have learned to take it all in stride though. If only I had been 1% as cool-headed in high school.

By now though, a month into proceedings, we have made real headway and at this writing I think there may be only 2 or 3 girls from that group of 30 +/- open females, including just one maiden, that have yet to be bred so far this summer. In addition to that group, there are of course also our females that are giving birth this year and that will then ideally be bred back 21 days post-partum. Though working with those females feels like a walk in the park after the slightly schizo vibe of the maidens. In either case, it’s just another day on the job in mid-July…

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