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How smart are Alpacas?

Discussion in 'Everything Else Llamas & Alpacas' started by Bruce, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. Sep 30, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    I will soon be getting 2 gelded alpacas, 5 or 6 years old. I would like them to be able to go outside anytime they want year round. It gets cold, windy and snowy in the winter here. I can't leave a door open from the alley or the barn will fill with snow and the chickens (coop about middle of the barn) will have a nasty and unsafe draft.

    The door on the left is one of a pair that go outside from the alley. I didn't put that sticker there. I am a flatlander, only lived in Vermont 37 years so can't make the claim. The wall on the right is the stall for the alpacas and there is a boarded up door opening (to a long ago removed silo) on the left at the end of this "chute". Obviously I need to clean this area up before the boys move in ;)
    DSCN0281.jpg

    Using that opening would be good for keeping the wind from blowing directly through the barn. What I am wondering is if an alpaca would be able to understand a door with double acting hinges. ie, it will open when pushed from either side. I'm guessing it would be helpful if there were a large window in the door so they can see there is something on the other side of it. If yes, great, I can hinge it on the left (looking from the outside) and leave it closed. If not, I'll have to build some sort of "wind channeler" outside the barn to keep too much snow from blowing into this area in north and west winds when the inswing door is open. I might have to do that anyway to keep too much snow from piling up in front of the door.

    This is the view from the outside. I'm fencing a space (apparently in a burial area for unwanted LARGE rocks :he) about 16' x 18' and removing the fence (the horizontal board barely visible past the gate post and above the gate) on the right so they can go to the area behind the barn without having to go inside the entire 50' length of the barn to do so. I want to restrict where they create their indoor toilet :D so I'm not giving them access to the entire lower part of the barn.

    DSCN0274.jpg
     

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  2. Sep 30, 2016
    NH homesteader

    NH homesteader Herd Master

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    Haha! My husband and I say I do what I wanta and I'm not even a Vermonta!

    I have no idea how smart alpacas are. But they are SO CUTE! I really am mildly obsessed with them.

    Sorry... This post was not helpful at all. ;)
     
  3. Sep 30, 2016
    luvmypets

    luvmypets Herd Master

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    Alpacas are extermely curious, they are always going to be checking out any new elements of their environment. As for inteligence, they are very bright. However we have never had problems with escaping, as long as the hinge is always locked.

    They are very inquisitive
    image.jpeg
     
  4. Oct 3, 2016
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    OK, I'll give it a try :) I found a door that is close to perfect. It is half glass though VERY likely not safety glass so I'll add 1/2" hardware cloth to both sides to ensure it can't get broken by animal contact.

    The alpacas are coming next Sunday morning so my next set of questions. There is a corner grain feeder in the stall, I figure to put their free choice minerals in that since it already exists (and I would have to cut the wood above the lip to get to the screws holding it to the wood supports below). Since I don't intend to confine them to the stall (or not often) I'm not sure they need to eat in there and have hung the hay feeder on the outside wall of the barn alley. The bottom is about 3' off the ground, is that a reasonable height for adult male alpacas? And is there a reason I SHOULD put it in the stall or NOT put it where I have? Should I be thinking about feeding them outside in the winter most of the time (if the weather isn't terrible) and NOT in the barn?
    DSCN0286.JPG

    Related: They are each currently getting a cup of alpaca feed outside every evening as a "snack/treat". Not needed (??) since they have more grass to eat than they can keep up with. Presumably they will need some of this feed through the winter or is the grass hay sufficient? And about how much hay would two gelded alpacas eat per day in the winter? Is it safe to just fill the wall feeder as needed as opposed to giving them a "measured" amount each day?

    Water: There is an outlet next to the window by the gate in that picture so I can hang a heated water bucket there. Any reason to NOT put it there? The gate is hinged on that side and swings away.

    The flash didn't, but this is looking out from the stall toward the gate. The grain feeder is in the dark area left of center:
    DSCN0289.JPG

    This is the view from the gate looking toward the north doors. The "alley" to the door I hope they can open themselves, or will be blocked open most of the time if they can't, is to the far right and the open stall door is near right.
    DSCN0288.JPG

    TIA
     
  5. Nov 8, 2017
    mocnarf

    mocnarf Chillin' with the herd

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    Poop maintenance and Urine stench may become a issue.
     
  6. Nov 8, 2017
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    They aren't willing to push the door so it is held open against the pull of the hinges with a bungee. Lotta money and time spent getting those double acting hinges and the door in place. Oh well. It does allow them to choose if they want to be in or out.

    The chicks I got in late April self raised for 3 weeks before they were adopted by an older hen. Prior to the adoption they didn't dare go toward the south end of the alley where the older girls hang out when they aren't outside because they were chased. Instead they went north through the gate into the alpacas' area, the older hens are afraid of the boys and won't go there, except MAYBE when the boys are outside. The "kids" found the alpacas' open door before they were adopted and are more than happy to let themselves out of the barn after the auto door on the coop opens. The hen that adopted them went out that way as well ... until she decided they were on their own after a couple of months. She's not been out that door since and none of the other older hens has ever been out it. Some of the "kids" (now 6+ months old) decide they should not only be out of the barn before I open it in the morning, they should be on the wrong side of the 5' high gate as well, I'll find them up by the house. I guess chickens are smarter than alpacas ;)
     
  7. Nov 8, 2017
    Alaskan

    Alaskan Loving the herd life

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    really? You can't train them open it? Our horses were happy to push through a spring loaded door. :hu

    As to hay, I am guessing that they are just like goats. The colder it gets the more they will eat. And, free feeding hay is needed to make sure they stay warm.
     
  8. Nov 8, 2017
    Bruce

    Bruce Herd Master

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    They don't seem to get the idea. When I put the door in I tried to show them by pushing it and walking through. No go, when they feel the door on their neck they get scared and back out of the doorway ... which then closes the door tighter on their neck at their head and oh boy, that isn't good. The door has been blown shut a couple of times, they stayed (and pooped) in the barn alley instead of trying the door.

    They have as much hay as they want every day. They eat it in the summer even though there is way more grass than they can eat so I guess they need some fiber and set their own balance. As far as staying warm, they seem really good at that. They spend more time in the barn in the summer than outside. I open the doors on both ends of the alley during the day if it isn't going to rain so there is a breeze blowing through. Now that it is cold, they are out most all the time. Even last night when it was 22°F, frost on the alpacas this morning. I guess that is because their normal habitat starts at about 11,500 feet in the Andes. I can't imagine how uncomfortable alpacas and llamas must be in the southern states during the summer.
     
  9. Nov 8, 2017
    Alaskan

    Alaskan Loving the herd life

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    sounds good. bummer though about them.not figuring out the door