Saturday, 7 August 2010

Alpaca shelters and dog beds...

Yet another wet start to the weekend with haymaking off the agenda again. By the amount of poo cleaning required in the barn this morning it looks like it has rained for most of the night. Our girls really don't like getting wet.

Our 'barn' was actually purpose built to breed chickens (previous owners) and we have converted it to provide a number of pens and a handling system. We have taken off some panelling to make it completely open on one side leaving an overhang to keep out the rain. It seems to be this openness that the alpacas really like as this is without doubt the most popular accommodation that we have.

We have learned along the way that the alpacas have definite preferences about shelters. One of our buildings, designed for horses, was initially not at all popular with any of the alpacas.We took down the internal stable walls but still they didn't seem happy. Eventually, we decided that the problem was lack of light due to the single opening. Cheapest solution; we hung acrylic mirrors on the darkest walls to reflect the light back and make any dark corners less scary.

Now you may be thinking that I am mad, but it has worked (something I learnt from my horse owning days). However, as that particular shelter has wall heaters as well as mirrors, I do have to put up with quite a few quips about "getting a flat screen T.V. for the wall!". But joking apart, plenty of light does seem to be important if shelters are to be used.

We had some visitors yesterday who are possibly interested in keeping alpacas at some point in the future. It was raining when they arrived but at least all the mums and babies had come inside to be seen. Nutmeg was especially sweet and let 18 month old Savannah stroke her nose. Thankfully the rain did ease off as Josh was especially keen to see the boys:

Almost Illegal and Nimrod enjoying some attention...can you just see that little hand at Nimrod's nose...It's not easy feeding an alpaca with such tiny hands!

I have just started introducing Tyke into the cria field. The girls are usually pretty good with Tyke and Oscar (dogs that they know) but it is always best to be careful where new mums and cria are concerned. Katkin especially gives him some frightening looks but he knows to stay well away from her. Roma did think about chasing him but even a miniature Yorkshire Terrier can look scary when it wants to:

Tyke standing his ground with Roma
Please note Paul was on dog watching duty, I was just the photographer!

It was more spit-offs again this morning and with everyone refusing his advances we decided to let Hollwood have a date with Blanche. Blanche was only 2 weeks postpartum yesterday but she had a very easy birth and was keen to be mated. Blanche will be the last of our girls to be mated here this year as we have decided to leave Bahati empty over winter. We will mate her with Viracocha Black Sabbath early next year (fingers crossed that he will be working).

Completely non-alpaca related but as Tyke got a mention it is Tyke related; We have just got a new bed. A 6ft super king size bed to be exact. What luxury to be able to toss and turn without someone complaining. Tyke however seems to think we have bought a bigger bed to accommodate a small dog!


Finally I sure you may have already seen the CGU Insurance advert - Bill the alpaca breeder, but if not I am sure that it will make you smile .Click on following link to You tube to view (you will need the volume on to appreciate) - 93k


  1. I know that Yorkshire Terriers are small, but a miniature Yorkshire terrier! How small is he?!?!

  2. Shelter habits are fascinating - we have an open-fronted shelter and for the first year, our girls only used it for feeding, then the cria came and they all used it during rain, then the snow came, and they spent days in it and made a latrine at the edge, which they now use any time that they are in there, but the chickens spread the poo around - it dawned on me today that with a little persuasion they might poo straight into the compost heap - now that would be a result!

  3. Now you tell me ! I just designed our shelter, now I will have to fit it out with leather sofas indoor plumbing and mood lighting. -- Andy

  4. Interesting blog, Barbara. Keeping the shelters clean can be a bit of a problem can't it especially if the animals are in there for any length of time. We have a concrete base in one shelter and the other three just have the ground as a base and it makes no difference - once one of the boys 'goes', they all join in! Hope Tyke enjoys the king size dog bed! Shirley & Robbie

  5. Tyke looks comfy !!....and the alpacas...well they do have strage shelter habbits !! lot are the same....and they all have their special seating areas !!........Jayne