Happy and Healthy Alpacas

I hope your summer is progressing nicely and the hot weather is being okay for you.

My alpacas seem to be spending a lot of time in the stable in the cool – and I like that idea myself.

If you’re a regular listener, you will know we are doing a shorter format for the summer. In this episode, I want to share some thoughts about something that is at the heart of Alpaca Tribe, Alpaca Tribe is for alpaca people of whatever kind. You’re all welcome. Having said that, our aim behind what we’re doing here is particularly to help promote confident and fulfilled owners of happy and healthy alpacas.

****Happy alpacas

Let me ask you, what does a happy alpaca look like? It’s easy to anthropomorphize and say that “Alys looks like she’s smiling today”. Well, I know that some alpacas have a face and mouth that looks like they’re permanently smiling. But what I’m talking about really, is way beyond that.

There are times when I know that my alpacas are happy. The level and intensity of humming is a giveaway that when the opposite is true. Generally, a quiet alpaca is a happy alpaca, or at least not an unhappy one. In the valley here, where we are, we have a lake and the alpacas love to sit in the water, particularly in the ford area by the bridge. There is not enough room for them all, so they have to queue up. As they get their turn and settle down into the water. There is a subtle lifting of the head and leaning back slightly. There isn’t quite an audible sigh, but to my eyes, at least there seems to be a look of bliss. “Oh yes, that’s better”. Is that a happy alpaca? I think so.

When being fed, there are more smiling opportunities. Some of the girls in particular just love their food. Usually, the sound changes when the food goes in the troughs and there is just a slight rattling sound as they work their way down the trough hoovering up the dried food, especially in the winter, when we tend to give the girls some extras of flaked peas, which they tend to take out first.

The same when we open up a new bale of hay they just love.

**Healthy alpacas

Of course, this doesn’t just mean the absence of illness. Health is encouraged and promoted by a range of preventative actions and by an adequate supply good food and water, plus the interventions of vaccinations, worming and vitamin supplements as necessary.

Good food by which I’m thinking of soft leafy hay, a measure of dried feed to provide the trace elements necessary for health and well-being Feeding is a whole topic of its own really, with different demands for breeding females fibre producers, growing cria, etc, etc.

We can’t always do everything to optimize each mouthful, but if we learn about nutrition, we can do right and do well by our charges. I hope to return to the topic of feed and nutrition in a later episode.

The mechanisms of healthy balance can be difficult to discern, but make a good target for us to be aiming at.

Happy and healthy alpacas

If you have any comments questions or suggestions for future topics do let me know by emailing steve@alpacatribe.com or use the link on the website to leave me a voice message.

Thanks for being with me on the journey and see you again soon.

-Steve Heatherington

Mike Safley book – Alpaca Shepherd
US Amazon – you would probably be looking for a second-hand copy!

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