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Alpaca behaviour questions

Discussion in 'Behaviors & Handling Techniques - Llamas and Alpac' started by Ila88, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. Feb 7, 2016
    Ila88

    Ila88 Exploring the pasture

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    I've had my girls for 2 weeks now and have some questions for more experienced folks. One of the alpacas gazes over the fence and calls out with a high pitched whinny. Any ideas what this means?

    Second question- they generally get along well, albeit some spitting and snorting over food. Yesterday they suddenly started fighting and afterwards both had droopy lower lips for about 20 minutes. Any explanations on this behaviour?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Feb 7, 2016
    Ila88

    Ila88 Exploring the pasture

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    One more question: we are feeding hay and pellets. Do they need salt or minerals in addition? We can't seem to find specialized camelid minerals in Canada.
     
  3. Feb 7, 2016
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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  4. Feb 7, 2016
    purplequeenvt

    purplequeenvt True BYH Addict

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    Their spit is nasty, even they hate the taste of it. The drooping lip is them trying to get the taste of the their mouths.

    Is the sound a whine or a clucking/braying sound? The first would be a sign of discontent and the second is the alarm call.

    They do need minerals. Camel is specific would be best, but sheep minerals would work in a pinch. They have a higher copper requirement than sheep, but lower than cattle and goats.
     
  5. Feb 7, 2016
    Ila88

    Ila88 Exploring the pasture

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    Thank you!!
     
  6. Mar 10, 2016
    Laura White

    Laura White Exploring the pasture

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    I have an alpaca that kicks whenever I pass her... why is she doing it and is there a way to teach her not to do it?
     
  7. Mar 17, 2016
    JakeM

    JakeM Loving the herd life

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    @Laura White; I would recommend making a new topic next time as people usually don't revisit threads that have been answered. But to answer your question, there could be a few reasons why (ordered by most to least likely).

    1) Are you making yourself known before you pass by her? Kicking is a defensive way to keep predators away from the lama, so if she doesn't know you're around she may perceive you as a predator when you 'suddenly' appear.

    2) Are you touching her as you pass? Either by mistake or on purpose (some people train lamas this way to decrease their sensitivity to touch), touching a lama without them wanting to be could trigger them to defend themselves.

    3) What's her past? If she's a rescue, she may have been abused or neglected, making her wary of all contact and have a larger personal bubble of space. If she was bought from someone, did she get any 1-on-1 time with anyone before being sold to you? Some people who plan on selling lamas sometimes will view the training as the next person's task and may only do the bare minimum with them (vaccination, trimming toes, shearing). If you've had her for her entire life, she may just be a bit cranky and that's her personality.

    4) Where in life is she? Age-wise and herd-wise. Is she getting to the point where she's gonna be taunting the boys and flirting? Or does she already have a little cria (inside or beside). She may be protective). If not/too young/too old, is she top lama or on the bottom? Being on top may cause her to lash out at you to try and put you in your place.

    5) She may have something stuck in/on her foot. The lady I got my start with llamas once found a small rock between the toes of one of her yearlings. They were much more cooperative once that was removed.

    As to what to do with her: you may try the idea in #2 (touch them lightly and very quickly at feeding time). Just make it a routine and only a light tap (not a poke). You may halter her up and take her for a walk. Tie her up and work on lifting her feet. I'm really thinking it's just a space/sensitivity issue here. Go over in your head about what you are doing leading up to when she kicks, you may unknowingly moving an arm too fast, or talking too loud.
    I hope this helps, and sorry for the wall of text.
     
  8. Apr 5, 2016
    teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Exploring the pasture

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    lla88... the high pitched sound is an alarm call. Some do it toward anything out of the ordinary...could be a dog in the distance, an ambling groundhog, or even a sheet blowing in the wind...lol.
    The droopy lip is due to the spitting contest that surely happened during the wrestling match.
    But I've read that it's more than just bad taste...there's actually a nerve reaction involved.
    If you're feeding alpaca specific pellets, then in theory they should contain minerals. But offering free choice minerals is always a good idea (NOT goat minerals) is always a good idea - they will take as needed.
     
  9. Apr 5, 2016
    Laura White

    Laura White Exploring the pasture

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    what minerals do you recommend... and also are there any grains that can be given to alpacas besides the pelleted food... thanks. Laura
     
  10. Apr 7, 2016
    teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Exploring the pasture

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    Most all-stock minerals that don't contain copper (or barely any copper) will work. Sheep minerals are a possibility (goat minerals contain fairly high copper, which can cause problems for alpacas and sheep). Some buy camelid-specific minerals on-line, such as Stillwater minerals (on-line).

    I've only used the pelleted alpaca feed (I get mine from Tractor Supply). Mazuri is the brand I use...any farm store that carries a Mazuri product should be able to order it for you if they don't carry it. Some have their feed made at a mill, and I think it's more of a loose type feed mixture.

    Most will tell you that if the alpaca is healthy and your hay is good quality, then the "extra" pellets/grain is not needed (of course you'd still need the free choice minerals out for them). My hay is good (we grow it ourselves - orchard grass), but I still use about 1/2 cup a day of pellets per animal...as a treat and to make sure they come up to the barn/upper field each evening.

    Also, you didn't ask this, but I would suggest offering baking soda free choice too. It helps some take control over minor belly issues/stomach upset. Mine partake as needed...some almost daily...others hardly ever.