- Alpacas are no different to the majority of domesticated animals i.e they need to understand that they are alpaca and not human. In the same way that a sheep/cow/pony needs to know. Imprinting (that is humanising) of young cria must be avoided. However routine handling and the occasional hug does not turn the average cria into an out of control adult (berserk).
Case study: Explorer was handled at lot from birth, as was necessary for his survival. Plasma, antibiotics, twice daily weighing, eye drops etc etc. Now... Explorer is easy to handle but he is not especially friendly...humanised?...all that grumbling and grumping about?...well now that I have given it more thought...we might have a human living here with similar qualities!
- Alpacas, again like all domesticated animals (and most children) need to know who is in charge and need to have a healthy respect for their line manager i.e us. Controlled cuddling is fine. Pushing is not. N.B we do recommend castrating the pet boys that we sell but there lies another debate!
Case study: Minnie came to us as a seven month-old cria at foot. She was naturally very friendly (I don't imagine that she had been especially over-handled by her breeder). This was very endearing until she became adolescent when she did start to invade our personal space a little; become rather pushy over food; and generally have a high opinion of herself. A few gentle taps with the lid from the garlic tub and she soon learned her place. In fact she is totally disinterested in us now that she is pregnant. N.B Most farmers will have a tale about being knocked over by a tup who was hand reared!
- Some alpacas like being handled; others don't. But in our experience it is possible to attain a relationship of some meaning, that makes working together less of a challenge and more of a pleasure. Some alpacas most certainly enjoy human touch.
Case study: Handling of our first pregnant females was something that we tried to avoid at all costs. By the amount of spitting that went on it was pretty obvious that they didn't like us...and to be honest we were beginnings to wonder if we really liked them. How things have changed. We are obviously more confident in our handling of them now but the real difference is that they know and trust us. There will of course always be the occasional Hoity Toity exception...likes attention but no touching thank you very much!
Last explanation; cuddling. I see that some like to call this rummaging or even condition scoring :)) I have decided that it will be called 'muddling' from now on. This is a cross between a cuddle and a massage. It is therapeutic, it works wonders for provider and receiver. I have been teaching Amanda this technique. I gently massage the two knobbly, boney bits between the alpacas ears whilst holding them in what might look like a cuddle, to the untrained that is. It is lovely to feel them relax and breath easily...great distraction technique too. So no cuddling here...that's that one cleared up...just going to condition score Noah...is he looking a bit thin?!!
P.S What has happened to The Futurity Select Alpaca Auction...they are keeping us waiting...is it going to be worth the suspense...I really need to know...just in case I need to do some 'muddling' on Paul!!