Learning Alpaca

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28th

At Work:

An interesting piece of alpaca psychology- two young males had been sharing a paddock quite happily when suddenly the dynamic changed. One of the males began bullying the other unmercifully. This was not just the usual pecking order strife which can happen, this was vicious! The pecked-on male was starting to exhibit the start of behavioural problems so it was decided to separate them. The bully was left where he was and the other was put into the next paddock, which shared a fence-line. He immediately went to the far corner and wouldn’t stray far from it, even though it was a large field and he would have been a significant distance from the bully. My boss - a man with over 20 years in the alpaca world decided to swap the males over - so they would still be sharing a fence line but now the picked on alpaca would be in the original field while the bully would be in the new one.

The difference was immediate and stunning… the two males spend much of their time within a few metres of each other. The picked on male now happily comes up to the once-bully, his fear has disappeared and he seems absolutely happy. We have also seen no further signs of aggression from the once bully.

So what happened? Why did the changing of paddocks make so much difference to the behaviour of these two?

Your guess is as good as mine!

At Home:

No eggs gathered last night as it was my Igo (awesome Asian board game - see here for details) night. Today 19 eggs. Not bad for winter-time.

Feed-out: As it was a heavily-frosted morning I gave lucerne to both herds as the extra energy is nice for them.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday 26th July 2010

At work:

ADE injections for all cria. In winter the sunlight can be a little weak for alpacas so sometimes Vitamin D production is inadequate leading to poor bone growth and conformational defects ( legs bow in etc.). So to be on the safe side we give them injections of Vitamin D, A and E.

The boss also did a first look over of the cria (baby alpacas) from this season. There are many factors to consider when evaluating cria:-

Body conformation. Do they have good teeth, no kinks in the tail, no “fused” ears? Do they stand well? Are they in proportion?

Fibre: Is it the right colour for you? Is the crimp (the wave in the fibre) what you are after? How is the thickness of the fibre? It’s lustre? It’s estimated shear weight? Are there a lot of guard hair (primary follicles)? Are the positive characteristics consistent and persistent up the neck and down the tail and legs?

At home:

Feed-out. In winter it’s a sad fact that money will have to be spent on extra feed for your alpacas. The greater the stocking rate, the more feed you will need.

Today: a bale and a half of meadow hay to the main herd in their feed and in the barn. A bale of lucerne (higher protein feed) to the llamas and the feed-up herd ( the skinny girls). Soon I’ll have to think about weaning some of the larger crias off their mothers.


Chickens: 9 - 4 from the older girls and a disappointing 5 from the Orpingtons.

Ducks: 2 plus a yolk sitting there in the middle of nowhere.

A sunny day today - the kind of day when you love being a farmer. Let’s have some more of these :-)