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Northern Girl

53 Posts

Posted - 09/08/2013 :  7:03:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ok my friends, when do you suggest weaning? I have read several differnet things and just curious how you all are doing it. I do not have a big area, and I have 2 crias that are a month apart. Any suggestions? I have read that I can let the moms wean them their selves is this a good way?

Thanks for any suggestions


2830 Posts

Posted - 09/08/2013 :  8:32:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It depends on several things. A cria should be at least 4 months old or have reached a good weight of around 50-60lbs or so. Some moms will wean them, but some cria are so tied to mom that the mom will let the cria nurse until it is a year or so old, if the owner doesn't do something to wean them. I have a two year old who was such a cry baby, and still is, that I did not wean her until she was 9 months old, although she had reached a good weight long before that. Some crias are just smaller, and they may be weaned before they reach the above weight, but not before five or six months. Six months is my usual age for weaning, unless there is a reason to do so earlier. If the dam has been re-bred, I would certainly not wait past the six month cut off, so mom has some time without a nursing cria before she delivers her next one.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-2533
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33 Posts

Posted - 09/08/2013 :  9:54:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ah the art of weaning! I believe every farm weans their crias in a manner that works for them and their farm layout. So for us, since we breed only for spring births, our weaning takes place in the fall (around Thanksgiving). We have a "maternity barn" and we have a "big girl" barn. When mom leaves the crias are unable to see where mom went. We base the weaning process on 6 months, 60 lbs or maturity level. We monitor the Dam and the crias weights, Dams we weigh monthly and crias are weighed daily for 2 weeks then 3 times a week for 2 months then weekly for a month and then after 3 months every 2 weeks. We have found that as long as the Dam is holding her weight and gaining, regardless if the cria is 80 lbs. we will allow the crias to hang with mom and mature (for the 6 months). We watched how the crias interact with their buddies or are they glued at mom's side as they are pasturing. We like to see the crias away from mom as much as possible and hanging with their buddies and then at night we know the crias are back with mom crushed for the evening.

We bring our pregnant females from the "big girls" barn up to the maternity barn for next years birthing season about three weeks before weaning and when we wean all moms go back together and the crias are left with their "aunties". Since 2004 we have experience one female cria that was just not handling the weaning process so we did bring mom back up, 30 days later we weaned and all went well. (If at all possible try not to do that!)

Use your judgment, is mom doing fine? Holding her weight? Was she bred back? How is the cria? Gaining weight? Hanging with buddies? If you separate them can they see other?

Every farm has an opinion, and I do not feel there is a right or wrong way. Find what works for you and your farm, this has always worked for us.

Joy Mitchell
M-R Alpacas Ranch Inc.
Wakeman, OH
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373 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2013 :  1:05:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Every time the topic of when to wean comes up I like to share a link to this article:

Every since I read this article I've been commited to letting the mom decide to wean if at all possible. With the welfare of my animals always in the forefront of my mind and decision making, I will "force wean" in instances of randy baby boys, mom losing condition, or baby still nursing into the late 10th/early 11th month. I will not wean for my convenience (shows, sales, etc.)

Just food for thought.

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
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4103 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2013 :  3:31:24 PM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I wish. Weaning here is for boys only. No matter how long I leave girls away from moms, the moment they go back with the "big girls," they're right back underneath and moms are welcoming them. I've seen full grown females with crias of their own nursing their dams. I have dams who will allow anyone to nurse, so they often are found in the middle of a "huddle" of crias. I've had adults stealing colostrum from dams while she's busy getting acquainted with a newborn. I try to keep colostrum on hand during birthing season because I never can be sure there's anything for baby.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
The Pastel Paca at LadySong Farm
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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151 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2013 :  7:03:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Funny Judith and so true! I wean anytime from 5 months {once in a while 4.5 months if baby is a tank and mom is losing condition even on xtra grain} to 8 months {more unusual}. I encourage my crias to eat grain and love my creep feeder. Some don't like grain until they are actually weaned but as long as their weight is good I don't worry. Ours are tanks when we wean!

I have also had adult female "cria" go right back under mommy. Once my boys are weaned they are never reunited with their dam or the dam herd.

I have a routine here that I am happy with. I too have a standard dam barn with a loafing barnyard and huge pasture as well as a a birthing area with it's own stall that can be closed during bad weather {got sick of all that extra blow drying soggy crias during rains...}.

I separate my pregos one month before birth into the birthing area. I breed in pairs. If I buy an alpaca that is prego at a weird time I may leave her in with the regular dam herd and be forced to check her status constantly if I have no other pregos or if she is high strung even with a buddy in the birthing pen. But normally I have at least a couple and they go to the birthing area. They love it there, extra snacks, no stress, no one bumping them or their tummies...

When they give birth I keep the cria and dam separated for a few days, even from other pregos. They can see them, are all around them, but not actually in with them. Until the cria is nursing well without any help {and knows mommy} and mom has completely recovered from birthing. They have day time visits from other pregos as long as baby is nursing well but are the new pair are locked in their own stall at night so no interference. I find this is necessary particularly with maidens who can get stressed by over domineering alpha type girls interfering. The dams seem to like it, bonding quietly with baby and baby has only one alpaca to figure out how to nurse from instead of wasting energy on the wrong female... I only do this for a few days {three usually} sometimes less if mom is one of my tried and true proven girls and maybe a bit longer with a tough birth or a silly maiden...

Then she stays on the birthing side but is out with other new moms and crias. My mom and cria pairs don't go out with the herd for at least three months...We have young girls who I feel have the "crazy babysitter syndrome". They act inappropriately with my little kids so I don't turn my dam & crias pairs out with them until they are bigger and under my watchful eye.I don't like vet bills and wierd things going on that I don't know about, I am the ultimate control freak I guess with my little crias...

Amanda Schwab
Little Wing Farm
6327 Jefferson Mill Rd.
Scottsville, VA. 24590
#434 286 3931

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151 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2013 :  8:39:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Forgot...tough getting old:}

There seem to be two distinct styles concerning weaning, and whether the crias should see their dams or not.

In my opinion, it seems to be much more traumatic initially if they can't see their dams, but does seem to shorten the "weaning panic" and weaning process.

I let mine see their dams, much less traumatic initially, but often takes longer to stop pacing etc when they see mom, than the "no contact" weaning option.

Some cria do ok and some flip. Most of my dams seem to like to "check" on the newly weaned cria and then are more content when they see they are fine etc.

I do put just weaned dams in their own pen with no pasture and no grain until their udders are almost normal. Tehn gradually get them up to full rations and back to the regular dam herd.

Amanda Schwab
Little Wing Farm
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