Sunday, December 30, 2012

Catch up on litters - Genoveva x Blase

We're a little behind with our baby posts at the moment. You may have noticed in our last post that we've had quite a few pigs available for adoption. We made the hard decision to down-size our stud recently, and have been VERY busy allocating pigs to the best homes over the last few weeks. We were sitting at approx 60 animals. All had names (as you already know if you read this blog! lol ), all are loved, I know the genetic backgrounds of everyone - who mum/dad was, who were siblings, what genes they carry, personalities, who hangs out with who, who hates who, who like apples and capsicum, who prefers broccoli... but at approx 4-5hrs of feeding, cleaning and health checking a day and up to $400 a month in costs - the work load finally took its toll.

I think part of the problem was my reluctance to let our babies go to other homes, feeling like we were the only ones who could possibly look after them in the way they deserve and were accustomed to. But what I've learnt through the process of allocating pigs to new homes is that this was a very narrow-minded and childish view to have. There are so many of you out there that love your pigs just as much as we do, and who have incredible set ups for them. We have had no troubles at all placing 30+ of the pigs with amazing homes.

I just want to say a huge thank you to each and everyone of you who have adopted from us over the years, or more recently - it has been a pleasure to meet you all. Our babies (and older pigs) will always have a special place in our hearts, so we welcome any update pictures and emails. And I just want to make it very clear that we will take them back in a heart beat if you're unable to care for them anymore. (I hope I haven't said that too much! lol).

We should be sitting at a much more manageable level of approx 20 guinea pigs come Jan/Feb. We will not have as many litters in 2013 obviously (please be aware of this if you're currently on our wait list and missed out on pigs from our recent adoptions) - but will continue to work on producing consistent-breeding curly shebas / angora mini yaks and pedigree texels.

I wanted to write this post as a kind of 'warning' to those starting out in the world of guinea pigs - try not to get too excited and take in too many animals too fast. It's way too easy to do - they really are such incredible little creatures, and they come in so many shapes and sizes.... but try to reign in that 'collector' instinct, and just stick to a few special pigs. Nobody wins when there is over crowding. (the same applies for those of you starting studs - choose 1-2 breeds, adopt the BEST examples of those breeds that you can find from a trusted breeder, and stick to those animals. Do not out-cross lines, do not try to do every cavy breed, and DO keep your quality offspring!)

Ok - little rant is over! On to the baby photos! Here we have the two pedigree sheltie daughters born to Sirocco Genoveva and Saphira Blaise (see photos at the top of this post). This first sow is 'Sirocco Sundari'. She is a tri-colour (her other side has a lot more black!). She's newborn in the photo above, then 9days old, then 19days old (taken today). She's coming along nicely - but DID NOT want to sit still for photos today!

And this is little 'Sirocco Symphony'. She's predominantly white with ruby eyes and a small patch of agouti by her ear (possibly cinnamon). She's newborn in the photo above, 9 days old below, and 19days in the last photo.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Available Pigs (for the first time in AGES!)

We are in a very rare position to be able to offer a number of our cavies for adoption - pedigree and crossbreed, adult and juvenile.

Preference will go to the families on the waitlist I haven't been able to get in contact with via email, or to families who have adopted previously. If you don't fall into this category and are interested in any of the pigs feel free to email as well. I will just need to ask a few questions before the pigs can go home with you.

View our 'Available' page to see the images, descriptions, ages and breeds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Conjoined twin

I was a guinea pig midwife again this morning. The first bub arrived without incident. She was strong and up and standing while mum cleaned her off within minutes. 

It took a bit longer for bub no. 2 to arrive. And a bit of effort from mum to bring her into the world. Mum completely ignored her when she arrived, and I must say my first thoughts were 'what is different about this little one?'. I lifted her up gently and it became very apparent... this girl had a serious deformity. 

My first thoughts were for the baby's long-term prognosis. I checked her over to see if there was anything that could be done/just what we were dealing with. It looks very much like she has her partially formed twin attached to her hip. There is an extended bone in the mass, which is attached to a perfectly formed back foot which she can wiggle - but has no use of. The mass is nearly the same size as her, and appears to have some muscle tone and some fluid. It could also be a tumour, but with the presence of bone/muscle - it seems more likely to me to be the conjoined twin situation. 

I have never seen this before in all the decades I've been breeding guinea pigs. 

The parents were not related (with both being pedigree I can see their ancestry back 5 generations to confirm this), so it appears to have just been a bit of bad luck genetically - this could have happened to any two animals. Conjoined twins occur when a single fertilised egg splits into two separate babies (usually seen as identical twins). When this split doesn't quite fully separate, you get conjoined twins of varying degrees. Sometimes you get two fully formed babies attached at one point on their bodies, and sometimes you get a fully formed baby with a partially formed twin. This is a partially formed twin situation. 

There is not a good prognosis for this little one. She cannot stand/walk due to the placement of the mass. The sheer weight of it means that she's pulled over again when she tries anyways. Her tiny newborn heart and lungs will be working overtime to support the extra body mass as well. And we don't know what internal deformities she might also be suffering from unseen. 

I have only posted this as an educational tool for other breeders who may have faced/be facing a similar situation. From what I have determined today there is no other information to be found on conjoined guinea pig babies online. Lots of information on poly-dactyl (extra toes/deformed hands/feet etc), but nothing quite as severe as this. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Imelda's progress in pics

The day Imelda and her brother Isaac were born. They were so unusual and so beautiful!

They were both lilac/lemon argente and white texel x rex bubs. We didn't know what their coats would end up like, so we took lots of photos!

2 weeks old

3 weeks old

4 weeks old

7.5 wekks old

9 weeks old

3 months old (taken today)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Emma's litter to Gizmo

This is mumma and daddy to our latest litter born in the early hours of friday morning. Emma's first litter and Gizmo's second litter. Both of these two are grandchildren of our Liam (pedigree texel), so it wasn't a surprise when the babies came out with colours just like Liam. We didn't get any curl as was originally hoped when these two were first introduced to each other a few months back - but that was before Gizmo's first litter to Xeraphina had been born and shocked us with their lack of curl (meaning that Gizmo's curl-gene is different to the rest of my texel-born pigs). So it was just further confirmation here. Any recessive curl that Emma might have been carrying wouldn't have had a chance to come through with Gizmo's genes in the mix.

We got two little men (Yardley and Yoda) and one little lady (Yolanda). All very cute, and all will grow long, beautiful sheba-looking coats.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When breeding guinea pigs isn't as easy as people think.

This gorgeous girl is our pedigree texel 'English Rose Jasmine'. Jasmine never grew a full 'to the ground' coat, partly due to barbering and partly due to suspected dropped coat. So we decided to trial her with a litter to our pedigree sheltie boar 'Saphira Blase' rather than another texel (as this is something much more common in the texel breed). Blase has excellent coat, never gets knotty or chewed and has pretty good type. The resulting babies would have been sheltie like their dad (he doesn't have any recessive curl in his ancestry), so we knew exactly what we were looking at achieving with the pairing - and we were excited to add some new sheltie lines to our stud.

But this wasn't to be.

(Saphira Blase)

Jasmine's expected due date came and went. We had obviously mis-calculated her dates. I had assumed that she fell pregnant on her first heat cycle with Blaise, and had removed her two days after her second heat cycle (sometimes the girls will have a false heat even when they are pregnant - they like to keep you guessing!). As time went by and Jasmine grew VERY large, I re-calculated using the second heat cycle and the date she was removed from Blase as our new due date.

This date also came and went. Jasmine ended up being pregnant for a total of 76days (usual pregnancies last 63-68 days, with the upper maximum sitting at about 72days). We stopped feeling all the beautiful, energetic movement and teeth grinding/practice suckling from the bubs at about 73 days. It was at this point that our hopes for Jasmine's litter started to wain. Now I just wanted her to be ok. If the babies had died inside of her she only had a little bit of time to get them out before they would make her very sick.

From 73 days to 76 days we had three other litters born here at the caviary to other mums. Each time I made sure Jasmine had access to the newborns to help clean them up and ingest the birth fluid. Usually this helps kick-start labour for due mothers. But not even that hormonal kick-up-the-butt did the job. I honestly don't know why her body didn't give her the signal to deliver her babies on time as her last litter was perfect. But I'm guessing it's one of those mysteries of life. Along the same lines of why some women go overdue with their babies and some deliver early.

It probably wasn't until the chemical change from her deceased babies set off her labour that her body began the process of expelling them. I noticed her first contractions and sat down beside her to assist. It was a long and slow process, and very messy. I won't go into the real details here as I know we have younger readers. But I do want to be as open and honest as I can that things don't always go to plan. We have lots of gorgeous posts about healthy babies that might give off the impression that it's all quite easy - but a LOT of preparation goes on in the background to minimize loss as much as possible, but not even the best preparation can prevent everything.

Because the babies were already dead they did not have the muscle tone to help themselves pass through the birth canal, so Jasmine and I had to work together. If I had not noticed those first contractions, or if it had been the middle of the night, it is very likely that we would have lost Jasmine as well as there is no way she would have passed her first two babies by herself. If you find yourself in this situation, please try your best to put squeamishness behind you. You will need to get your hands dirty. You will need to help manipulate the baby's head/body out, while carefully putting pressure around the sow's birth canal to avoid damage. Never yank as this can cause the placenta to tear from the uterine wall and lead to hemoraging or prolapse. Just gently pull as the mother contracts - work with her body.

The whole process of birthing the 4 stillborn babies took about 1.5-2hrs - most litters are born within half an hour. Some within 10mins. As each massive, still baby emerged we tried our best to revive them - but their eyes were cloudy (a sign that they had died a while ago) and it is likely that they had gone into distress as each one had pooed. Jasmine was able to deliver her 3rd and 4th babies with minimal intervention, and then went on to deliver the placentas. She again needed a bit of assistance with the last one. She was still passing a lot of blood, so a quick gentle massage of her belly helped expel the last one. If any foreign material was left inside of her, it would have meant infection and most likely death - so it is VERY important that a placenta is delivered for each baby born.

This was the sad scene we had at the end of the whole ordeal. Over 450g of baby, with the largest one weighing 150g on his own. RIP little babies. You never got a chance to smell the grass, popcorn in a freshly cleaned cage or snuggle into your mother's curls...



On Tuesday the 4th December 2012 Cleo delivered four gorgeous big babies all by herself. Malibu our lilac/gold argente sheltie boar was the daddy. These were his first babies. We got a texel boar, a texel sow, a sheltie sow and a sheba boar - all pets obviously. Nearly every genetic combination bar the one we were hoping for (curly sheba!). These are stunning bubs though, and very healthy.

When I got their newborn photos I didn't want to disturb them by taking them outside into the heat, so they're taken in our bathroom (coolest room in the house, but has crappy lighting!). So we got a 1-day update shot in the cool of the next afternoon. I love this pic, all those sweet little piggy noses!

(This is daddy to this litter and the one below - our 'Malibu' )



THEN our gorgeous Meadow delivered two big beautiful bubs a few hours after Cleo, also on the 4th Dec. One gorgeous richly coloured gold agouti sheltie sow and one vibrant dark-eyed gold sheba boar. Again, no curly sheba bubs as we'd hoped, but it's just a matter of odds. We'll try again in 6months with Meadow's next litter.

There's a chance both of these bubs will carry the recessive curl-gene as well, but we won't know unless we do test matings - and even then we could never be sure if we didn't see curls first time. What I would give to be able to work with a dominant curl gene like the lunkarya cavy!



And lastly, our stunning little pedigree texel Sirocco Amethyst delivered two large, perfect babies at approx 9am on wednesday the 5th December. One little man and one little lady. We were literally just about to run out of the door to get to a meeting when I noticed a bit of activity - and sure enough these little treasures were out and looking great. After a quick feel of Amethyst's belly to determine that there were no more bubs  I felt confident to leave her to clean them up. When we got back they were all settled in, dry and looking cute!

These babies will likely be papered, but we want to wait and see how their coats are looking at the 3 month mark first. We've had some really inconsistent coat results in the last round of pedigree texel litters last season, so I am not in a hurry just yet.