When we purchased our first small herd of Alpacas, the owner impressed us by knowing each of the creature’s names. But to us, each one seemed the same, although with closer inspection some were taller, some were smaller, and some had identifying marks. It took us a couple weeks, but eventually we could name every one of our Alpacas.
Whether you plan to be an Alpaca Breeder, keep them as pets, or guard animals, getting to know every one of your Alpacas is vitally important. They are herd animals and with the herd instinct will mask in others (and therefore from you), when they don’t feel well or when they are in pain. To have a close relationship with your Alpacas you need to spend some time with them on a daily basis.
With daily observation you will have the ability to assess stress levels of each animal, gain insight into the herd’s hierarchical structure (who’s the leader?) And track every animal’s general health. You’ll have the ability to ascertain who over feeds, who under feeds, who is gentle and who is bullying others. It is important that you understand the behavioural patterns of each animal if you’re to have the ability to determine when they’re not feeling on top of the world.
Alpacas communicate through body posturing of ear, tail, head and neck, and in addition, they vocalise. Getting to know some of these communication methods, will assist with your understanding of your Alpacas.
The Alert Stance – The Alpaca will stand using a rigid erect body and rotate its ears forward in the direction it’s staring. It signals a fascination about a change happening in the immediate surroundings. It could be a person walking in another area, sight of a cat or dog, the birth of someone odd to them, or sometimes even a bird which has landed in their grazing area. Frequently, each Alpaca will turn and face the same way and adopt the same pose. It could result in whole members of the herd moving forward in unison to investigate or chase off the intruder. Alpacas have very keen eyesight and will often see creatures that are well concealed long before people are aware of another presence near a herd. If the Alpaca interprets there’s not any danger then the whole herd will just walk off. If they perceive it to be a threat, it might lead to an Alarm Call, or rapid flight of the whole herd.
The Alarm Phone – This is a high-pitched shrill sound that’s often first given by the leader of the group, and then others will follow suit. There is slight difference in sound between a Suri and an Huacaya. Alpacas which are new to your farm are prone to Alarm Call in the sight of the cat, the dog, the hens, and just a paper bag blowing in the wind. In fact they will Alarm Call any time they see anything they haven’t experienced before. As a responsible owner, it’s vital that you try to find the source of the concern. Remember they have brilliant eyesight, but if you look in exactly the exact same direction they are looking, then you may discover the reason for their call.
But becoming familiar with these two behavioural patterns will help you understand some of your Alpacas’ behavior.