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Friday, October 12, 2007

The Alpaca Van

It is amazing how your priorities change when you get into this business. We have a great truck and trailer set up that we had customized to meet our "alpaca traveling" needs. But we kept thinking about what would we do if we were off the ranch with our "rig" and an animal needed to be transported to the vet. Or how nice it would be if we had a small van for everyday use instead of having to take out the large "rig". Mostly I was thinking how nice it would be if I didn't have to depend on using the "rig" and could use a smaller van. Did I mention that I am not comfortable driving the "rig"? Scott started looking at the great place in Half Moon Bay, Princeton really called "Smith's Trucks". This guy gets used fleet trucks from companies, goes through them and puts on new tires, brakes, whatever is needed. Then he paints them white or yellow and sells them at very good prices. Scott found exactly what we needed. A 1990 Ford Econoline van. White with air and windows and plenty of room for animals. What a relief, I can now take one or two animals to the vet, or meet up with a transporter and not have to rely on driving the "rig". I'll save that for Scott.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Halter Training 101

We like to make halter training as pleasant of an experience as possible. Saying that, it seems everyone has had different experiences with halter training and I am always asking questions from people that have well mannered animals in the show ring. Getting them started young seems to work best for me. As soon as I could fit their tiny heads into halters we started working with them. Since all seven of our cria are about the same age, this made things easy. At about 2 months I started separating cria from moms at breakfast time. All cria in one pen and moms right next to them in another pen. I put halters on the cria and put their morning food out for them. Once they get used to the idea of eating with their halters on, they dont pay much attention to them anymore. I snap on a key tag to each halter with the crias name on it so each animal has a properly fitted halter on its head. Also, they get used to me handling their legs, under their tale and their ears at this time. We also practice showing their teeth. I make a habit of saying out loud teeth when I am showing teeth and foot when I am handling their legs. This way the animal knows what it coming. We also say, halter on when putting on the halter and, halter off when taking the halter off. After a few weeks of this I start snapping on the lead and getting them used to it. Lots of ranches use different types of systems to teach them to stand tied to a fence; this is great, especially if you have several alpacas at a time you need to work on. We have been snubbing them with a soft rope tied high to a fence post. This way if we need to get a quick release we just have to pull the one side of the rope and they are free. Getting crias to walk on a lead is a whole different ball game. Some do, some dont, some will, some wont. Everyone is different. I have learned it is all about, breathing, balance, and relax, watching their feet and trust. Of course you must fit the halter correctly on the alpaca head. I remember being shamed by the judge in my first show because my alpacas halter was not fitted to her head correctly. She calmed right down, once her halter was fitted properly. Remember, halter training doesnt have to be a scary thing for you or your alpacas. This is a learning process for both of you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ear Flushes that Work

Today I noticed that two of our three studs that are in the same pen were shaking their heads and sneezing. It has been my experience that there is usually a tick or some other small irritant down in one of their ears. I have a great solution for this brought to me by Dr. Rob Pollard. He has put together an ear flush that actually works. It comes in an 8 ounce bottle and for mites or ticks you add 2ccs of ivermectin directly into the 8 ounce bottle. You then shake it up and draw up in a syringe enough for 3ccs per ear for each animal. We squirt the liquid into each ear and they shake like crazy. But in about ½ hour you will see total improvement. No head shaking, no sneezing, you're done. Your animals will thank you. Use gloves and cover your eyes; this stuff can cause a reaction if it gets in your eyes.