Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter piggy update pics

 Decided to grab some quick photos of the pigs today as we were home for Easter Friday and the pigs were getting a day on the grass. Tried to group them together to make it easiest - above and directly below we have our 'Sirocco' girls - our pedigree texel sows here in residence.

Above we have our pedigree texels from other Brisbane studs, including our two main men Liam and Romeo.

Below we have our curly-sheba siblings at 6 weeks old - Scout, Salem and Sarabi.

And below we have Sirocco Opal (the missing sow from the 'Sirocco Sows' photo) with her two 2.5wk old bubs. I love how Opal and Amore are pulling nearly the exact same face.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Guinea Pig Toy PATTERNS - make your own

Here at Sirocco Cavy stud we do a lot of guinea pig-related sewing. Mostly it's cuddle sacks and guinea pig comforts - but we also do our own range of guinea pig plushies as a sideline to our main teddy bear making business 'Emma's Bears'.

Recently we decided to make our plushie patterns available for purchase by other crafty-minded people who might not have been able to access a pre-made toy. We now have two guinea pig patterns to choose from. Shown above and below is our 'Family' pattern. This is a quirky design that includes a mum with a belly lining so that her babies can be tucked up inside her like a babushka doll.

I tend to make this design with a litter of three, but you can fit up to 4 babies in there if you prefer larger litters, or just give mumma 1 or 2 bubs. You're limited only by your imagination. We've made this pattern is a wide array of colours and fur-types as you can see below.

The other guinea pig pattern we have available is for our 'large cartoon' guinea pig. This pattern makes pigs like those shown below next to our gorgeous Peruvian Molly. The pattern includes adjustments to make different 'breed' looks - like texels, peruvians, shelties, Abyssinians etc all based on how you position your fur pile direction. This is a nice easy design to sew up, and has less steps and complicated instructions than the guinea pig family design. You can also have a lot of fun using all manner of colours and fur types with this design too.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Amadeus and Amore at 10 days old

Opal's bubs are now 10 days old. They're looking lovely too. Their coat's aren't growing quite as fast as daddy-pig's does, and they really don't have a lot of defined curl either - but they're getting that nice 'puff ball' look as the density and length collide! Amadeus is still a super sook. Every time I scoop him up from his cage he squeals like I'm about to murder him. His sister is just fast - quiet and fast. She tries the avoidance method. They're getting better with handling, but it's totally normal for them to be anxious when away from mum at this stage.

I keep thinking Amore looks more lilac-base coloured to me. But in this pics she really does show off the chocolate tinge. I fell bad for wishing her baby-hood away, but I'm so impatient to see her in coat.

We've also been busy lately working on some new stock for our Winter 2013 cuddle sack sale. We ran quite a few of these last year, and helped make about 200 cavies cozy and warm last season. This year we'll be offering a bigger variety of items - including these cute Cuddle Cups I whipped up today. I've seen these around for a while now, but always dismissed them as something that would be too complicated to put together. But I decided to give it a go! 

(you can see the size perspective in this pic of Opal (full grown adult texel) and her two almost-2-week-old bubs. )

\The first prototype was the black/pink cuddle cup you can see above. I was really happy with the size/proportion, but there wasn't enough stiffness in the fabric to allow the pigs to lean on the sides while napping. 

So we made some adjustments and tried again. You can see our cute little man 'Sprout' in the second padded version in pink. This worked a lot better and the sides stay upright even when he attempted to scale them and say hello to the gorgeous Bambi sitting in the original one! 

So we will have a number of these new Cuddle Cups along with the original 'Sirocco Cavy Stud' designed Cuddle Sacks in quite a few sizes and with luxury fabrics, as well as some hammocks as well in a variety of sizes. So far I've managed to get about 80% of the items cut up and ready to sew, and have about 10% actually sewn and finished... but we really want to open the sale with everything ready to go so no one misses out... so you'll need to give us another fortnight or so to be finished! 

I can't wait to see some gorgeous pigs getting cozy over the next few months! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Opal and Romeo welcome two pedigree texel bubs

Above we have Sirocco Opal. She was born here early last year to Glenjolie Savannah x Lavender Vale Tex. It has taken this long for her to fall pregnant! But it was worth the wait! Daddy to her babies is our Hazelron Romeo (shown below). This is his first litter with us.

A pigeon pair - Amadeus and Amore

We got a very sweet little girl we've called 'Sirocco Amore' (which means love). She has unusual colouring, and it took a lot of back and forth communication between myself and another stud, with lots of photos and re-checking Romeo and Opal's pedigrees to come to the conclusion that her colouring is chocolate agouti (choc base, red/gold tip). At first glance I assumed she was lilac/gold argente (lilac base, gold tip), but the tone isn't quite right for lilac (and there doesn't appear to be any lilac in her parent's pedigree - obviously we can't see what is beyond 4 generations though). We'll see how her coat grows/how the colour looks in a few months though. But one thing is for sure - she's going to be a stunner!

And this was our little man. This is Sirocco Amadeus (which also means love). He is a more common 'gold agouti (black base, gold tip) and white. His colouring is a lot like his dad's, but with the cute splashes of white.

 Amadeus weighed in at 95g at birth, and Amore was 85g. Both bubs are looking really strong which has been a nice change for us here after a run of sickly/weak bubs. I have full confidence in their survival.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The journey towards a new breed

As I'm sure I may have mentioned before, I've been working towards establishing a new look coat in the Brisbane Cavies over the last few years. This is a rather controversial thing to do among other registered breeders/people who show cavies. 

One group of people believe that ONLY pedigree guinea pigs should be bred. Thus, mix breeding to produce a new look/breed is a big no no, and a waste of time. 

Another group of people believe that no new breeds can be developed - we have all the available types we can access in Australia already, so why bother?

And I must say, I do see the validity in each of those points of view. I just don't agree with them. 

Firstly - pedigree guinea pigs have a 'breed standard' that breeders can work towards. It's very clear and they can see where their current animals need improvement - thus being able to make pairings to try and better the subsequent generations. 

I get that! 

But once upon a time, many decades ago when these standards were being decided - the judges could only work with the breeds at hand. They weren't to know or predict that new combinations of genetic mash-ups could produce whole new looks in cavy-coats (ie, the Sheba Mini Yak which is the most recent 'mash-up' breed). In response to this, after a great deal of work on behalf of sheba-breeders, the Sheba Mini Yak was standardised as a breed, giving breeders a guideline for what the ideal specimen should look like. 

So - as discussed above, new breeds CAN be produced. Usually (as has happened in Europe with the Lunkarya, Swiss etc), genes mutate spontaneously producing a whole new coat-effect. When this is recognised and fostered whole new lines/looks can be achieved. 

 (Lunkarya babies)

 (Lunkarya adult)

(Swiss adult)

However - this can also be achieve by mixing genes that already exist. For example - the Peruvian came before the 'Alpaca', which is just the rexed (curled) version of the peruvian. Someone had to specifically introduce the curl-gene into a Peruvian line to achieve that coat-effect. The Merino is a rexed Coronet, the Texel a rexed Sheltie... why not a rexed Sheba?! It is certainly not a genetic impossibility. The biggest challenge I think the 'new breed' will face is getting it to look significantly different to the Alpaca as the curl has a tendency to overrides the lift of the rosettes if the coat is too silky. Not unlike a poor-coated sheba with not enough rosettes or too-fine hair. This aspect will be all about getting the right balance of rosette placement/coat density/shaft coarseness.

So that brings me to our current moment. March 2013 at Sirocco Cavy Stud. And our small herd of Generation 1, 2 and 3 Curly-Sheba Cavies (tentatively named 'Angora Yaks'). They are FAR from perfect! Goodness knows they need a lot of work yet. We anticipate at least another 4-5 years of following through the most promising/consistent lines before we'll start seeing something that resembles the ideal 'Angora Yak' in our minds... but this is a start. And a start I'm bloody proud of. 

So I thought I'd do a post just for these guys. 

This little guy is 'Talbot' - sheba coated (carries curl). Four weeks old in photo above, 3.5months old in photos below. 


This lady is 'Tallulah'. Also sheba-coated but carrying curl. She's 2 weeks old in the photo above and 4.5months old in the photo below. Sadly we lost Tallulah this summer to heat. She is survived by her two curly-sheba daughters (Bambi and Blessing - see photos below). 


Sweet Evangeline. Also Sheba-coated, but carrying the curl. She is Tallulah's half-sister and has also produced a curly-coated sheba boar (Asher - see photo below). 

Tallulah was a few hours old in the photo above, and 2.5 months old in the photos below. 


Meadow is almost 3 weeks old in the photo above, and 5 months old in the photo below. She is also sheba-coated, but carries the curl. She is yet to produce a curly-offspring. 


Gorgeous Cleo. Shown at a few hours old in the above photo, and approx 12months old in the photo below. She is sheba-coated (not quite as many rosettes as preferred), and carries the curl. She has produced one curly-sheba son (Gizmo - see photos below), and a grandson (Talbot - see photo above).


Mr Gizmo - a curly-coated sheba boar at 8 weeks old in the above photo, and 5 months old in the photos below. He has produced both curly-sheba offspring and sheba offspring.


Tiny Bambi at hours old in the above photo. She was one of our first curly-sheba sows to be born here. Bambi is 4.5 months old in the photos below. She has an incredibly dense coat with excellent lift. She is yet to fall pregnant.


Blessing. Sweet Blessing! Four-weeks old in the photo above, and 4 months old in the photos below. Blessing also has incredible density, good lift and nicely formed ears. She is also yet to fall pregnant. 


Little Salem. Born to two curly-sheba parents (our first litter of the kind) - but lacking in the rosette department. At this stage is appears that he may only have two rosettes on his rump - which would actually make him a pet alpaca. But as it can be quite hard to accurately locate the rosettes until the babies reach their 'scraggy stage' between 5-7 weeks of age (when their curls aren't quite long enough to give their growing bodies good coverage, making them look a little disheveled). At this stage the coat is parting in the directions of the rosettes, but isn't long enough to fall back down and hide them yet. Try to find the rosettes too early and the coat will be too closely squashed together to get an accurate look.


Miss Sarabi - newborn in the photo above and 3 weeks old in the photos below. She's still only 3.5 weeks old, so hard to tell how she's going to grow up, but she does appear to have a better coverage of rosettes. Not enough to make a big impact to coat lift - but it's a start.


Asher - my first home-born curly sheba boar, in a gorgeous cinnamon agouti too. Asher is newborn in the photo above, and 6 weeks old in the photos below. He is only about 8 weeks old now, but looking better and better as he grows. (he did go through a 'scraggy' stage - but it only lasted for a week or so!).


And lastly - little Scout. He is the full sibling to Salem and Sarabi - but actually has the best rosette placement. He doesn't have the agouti colouring though, so his coat isn't as dense. It will be interesting to see how his appearance differs to them as he grows though. He is newborn in the photo above, and 3 weeks old in the photos below.

Well - I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty tired after that! Hopefully in a 6 months or so I'll be able to do another post with generation 4 babies, and some updates on how these bubs are going :)