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Friday, February 22, 2008

Llama Cria Cheese with Whine or Wine or In This Case WEAN

Well today apparently Tessa has decided it is time to begin to wean Jasmine [official name Silver Jasmine], and Jasmine is very much NOT a happy camper about it. Nothing new, cria are never particular enraptured by the thought of the milk bar being closed forever. Jasmine is certainly not TOO young to be weaned, and whenever possible we allow the process of weaning to be as natural as possible. We let the dam decide when it’s time, even whenever possible or practical with male llamas. We have had dams wean their offspring at 6 months [like SOME books say we are supposed to] and have had them let their offspring hang on as long as 14 months. THAT gets a bit weird, having a 'no longer a baby' actually get down on their front knees in order to fit under their own mother to nurse. That really is something pretty funny to watch. And we have only really had that happen once with HEIDI our 14 month nurser several years ago.

From our perspective Tessa finally starting to wean Jasmine helps us with our concerns that the baby due in late May will be able to get a good freshening and have all the initial colostrum needed. We bought Tessa [official name Chilean Countess] at the Cascade Llama Sale held in Ridgefield WA last summer as what is called a 3 in 1 package; Tessa, her newborn cria at side, and a confirmed pregnancy from her being re-bred by the seller. We don’t normally breed back right away, but there are those that do within the llama community, and no doubt the fact that the seller wanted to maximize her sales price added to their decision to re-breed her right away.

But in the meantime, it is a bit of sad state watching Jasmine cooing, and humming at her mother while Tessa at first politely does the official llama “go-away kid you’re bothering me” dance, then to the not quite so polite kicking, “I REALLY mean what I am saying kid, you’re bothering me”, all the way up to the neck wrestling to the ground, “ARE YOU STUPID, I SAID GO AWAY”, definitely NOT a dance.

This escalation was quite surprising, and in all honesty Jasmine, my sweet little Jasmine baby was 100% at fault. Persistence in a cria attempting to change their mother’s mind about this whole ‘got milk, hell no!’ battle that is inevitable, but Jasmine decided to take this to a new high. Her first efforts at encouragement were more than appropriate from we have seen with other cria undergoing this particular trauma. Subtle humming, tail flipping and just the right amount of persistence when her mother kept turning away. But THEN, when her mother began to kick her annoyance, Jasmine threw what I suppose was the equivalent of a llama tantrum, putting her head up in the air, nose UP and pinned her ears back flat as if to suggest she was going to spit her way to getting what she wanted. That was met with a very similar reaction from her mother, as a warning that says, ‘I really think you may want to reconsider this more thoroughly’. Well Jasmine did not think it all the way through and continued her version of aggressively attempting to get her way, which is when Tessa simply slammed her daughter, placed her neck over Jasmine’s back and slightly more than gently PUSHED her daughter away.

This should be interesting to watch unfold over the next few days, and we as humans will need to be extra careful with Jasmine to make sure that she doesn’t choose to re-direct the security of the milk bar with attempts to win over our favors. This is a very important dance to orchestrate for us as humans to make sure she understands the balances and rules of being a llama in the world of humans. I have no doubt this will not be a big thing, just something requiring our focus.

Gary Kaufman
Roads End Llamas
Olympia WA

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