2022/2023 Alpaca Owners Guide

While the impact of an alpaca kick is not on par with a horse, it can create a bruise. Also, there is potential for toenails to cut skin. As with all livestock, owners and visitors should always use common sense and a degree of caution when working around alpacas. People working with alpacas should wear shoes or boots that cover the whole foot and are not slippery and long pants. Proper handling of alpacas, as well as all camelids, requires their gaining human trust by using a calm voice and light restraint. Novice alpaca owners can be mentored by experienced alpaca owners as well as experts in learning how to best handle them for herd husbandry. Q: Are alpacas clean animals? A: Yes, they are much cleaner than most livestock. Alpacas have a minimal aroma and tend to attract fewer flies in the summertime than other forms of livestock. Alpacas often defecate in communal dung piles. There may be three or four of these areas in a pasture, spread throughout about 10% to 20% of the pasture. This makes for easy clean up, reduced opportunity for parasites, and better overall hygiene in the herd. Q: Do alpacas make noise? A: Alpacas are very quiet, docile animals that make a minimal amount of sound. They generally make only a pleasant humming sound as a means of communication or to express concern or stress. Most communications between alpacas is nonverbal. Occasionally you will hear a shrill sound, called an "alarm call," which usually means they have spotted something of concern nearby, and they are warning others in the herd. The concern may be a predator, or may be something they are not familiar with, like a cow or horse in a neighboring field. Male alpacas also "serenade" females during breeding with a guttural, throaty sound called "orgling." Q: Do alpacas spit? A: All members of the camel family use spitting as a means of negative communication. They do get possessive around food, and thus may express annoyance by spitting at other

Photo courtesy of The Ark Farm

training them to walk through obstacles. Some even compete with their alpacas at shows where they walk over, through, and around objects and also jump over small hurdles. It is helpful to train alpacas to ride in a trailer or van if they ever need to be transported to a show or another farm. Alpacas are easy to transport, as they normally cush (lay down with their legs folded under them) when traveling. Be aware that alpacas should not be tied up when traveling. Q: Are alpacas dangerous? A: No. Alpacas are pleasant to be around and generally easy to handle. Alpacas do not head butt. They do not have horns or hooves like other livestock. They move gracefully and adroitly

about the field and are therefore unlikely to run into or over anyone intentionally. Males develop sharp fighting teeth at about three years of age which can cause injury to both humans as well as other alpacas. Alpacas will reflexively kick with a hind leg, particularly if surprised from b e h i n d .

18 | ALPACA OWNERS GUIDE 2022/2023

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