Alpacas are extremely intelligent, curious and family focused creatures. Living in herds, one usually takes the lead, dominant role, which the others follow. They communicate with a range of low noises and hums, unless they are threatened, then they make a much louder noise which you won’t fail to recognise. Sometimes it can sound like a donkey, or its more of a scream.
I have only been working with alpacas for a few short months, but I learn something new about them every day. Being ‘hands on’ seems to be the key in keeping a calm and relaxed herd. None of them really enjoy being handled, but because they are well handled and used to having us around them in the pens at feeding time, husbandry and general tasks are much easier and relatively stress free.
Show season is approaching so we’ve been working hard with the cria to get them halter trained and ready, and today BIG steps were made.
Two of the boys happily wear their halter now, and they even had a little walk about on their lead outside of their feeding pen. They weren’t too sure about this at first, but did incredibly well after a little gentle persuasion, and the offer of a food bowl.
Progress has also been made with the other two boys who are getting more and more used to the training every day. I think one of them secretly enjoys the gentle face touching and massage as he almost nodded off! He even accepted the halter being attached with no problems at all. Seeing an expert make progress like this, with a gentle, calm approach has been a joy to watch.
Oh, and another thing I’ve learnt is that alpacas rarely ‘spit’ at people. Sometimes you just get caught in the crossfire at feed time!