Alpacas in CQ

Now we can all talk about milking our cows and goats, all things house cow and milking goat.
dggoatlover
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Alpacas in CQ

Postby dggoatlover » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:40 am

Just thought I would move this to a separate thread so we aren't imposing on the cow talk :D

We haven't had any troubles with ours alpacas at all. They cope well with the weather up here in CQ once acclimatised and we had no problems with any during the floods/rain other than one of the boys getting a little rain scald on his nose and ears. As long as there is fresh water and shade available they cope well. On a really hot day another breeder I know suggested putting a sprinkler on and the alpacas will stand under it until they cool down (if you have water to spare!) - they love water! Or you can freeze iceblocks and put them in the water trough a few times during the day keep the water cool. An alpaca will not drink water if the temp of it is higher than their body temp so you need to be careful or they can become quickly dehydrated. You can also add electrolyte blocks to the water to help keep their energy up.

We started with two wethers for guardians for the goats and have progressed from there with another three breeding females. We also have a young cria currently on agistment at another stud to be shown this year. I check the alpacas feet the same time as I run through the goats every six weeks or so, so it is no extra burden on my workload really. Our alpacas are all quite quiet. We have put a lot of time into training them and we have halter trained the two wethers as well. They love routine (just like the goats) so if you stick to a routine and talk to them they become comfortable and know what to expect they are less likely to become stressed. They'll learn to come in at night at certain times and will even slowly herd other livestock toward the yards for dinner at the same time each evening! I have never had any of my pacas spit at me even during shearing. A good tip if you are worried about spitting while handling them for certain occasions is to put a sock over their nose :lol: :lol: That being said you can always find an alpaca that has a negative attitude no matter how nice you are! :roll:

Ours also get a ADE and Cophos injection every six months and a selenium injection each year and 5in1. I supp feed all my animals as the goats are dairy animals so look for extra protein during lactation and it helps support the condition of the female alpacas while pregnant. Have to be careful though as the wethers can get too fat sometimes! Alpacas don't really go for mineral blocks or licks so we add theirs into their feed (seaweed meal, dolomite, copper and sulphur). We use feed time each morning and night as an opportunity to check all our animals over for any health issues or to give any special care required. They come up from the paddock and are lcoked in yards each night as an extra precaution.

Drenching - we have used cydectin pour on for ours with no ill results. Although when closer to shearing or giving birth I switch to a safe oral to save the fleece etc. Check out the Alpaca Association website as they have some great fact sheets available to help with caring for your pacas. I also get great advice and support from the breeder I purchased my animals from. :D :D :D This is just my experience with them so far and I am by no means any type of expert!!!!!

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:35 am

Hi Desley,

The similarity with treatment to goats is the key I think, with cattle we found it's a whole different thing as they don't like being with the cattle, cattle bump them too much as they do etc.

Ours coped better at Hogarth Range but they had a shed there, which is still to be built here although they get under the verandah it was too hot on the 40 degree days and we'd move them out under trees for a breeze and next thing back they'd be in 'their' spot.

Our vet (he's been dealing with alpacas for about 20 years, everyone uses him for them) said they don't absorb the pour ons, as their skin is different. We've used injectable cydectin and dectomax injectable. Some say inject under the skin on the neck, but try to find that with confidence when they're woolly :o the shearer said on the inside leg for all injections, there's no wool and if they get a lump from 5in1 which some do, it's doesn't catch on the shears when shearing... made sense to us, so that's where I do them now. DH grabs them, they go into cush and then we roll them carefully (making sure their necks aren't in a bad position, don't want to break them) and I inject them. As far as keeping in a paddock at the moment they have some steel posts with pink hay string keeping them in. :lol:

Ours were broken to halter but when we got them I'd had my finger broken (ended up with a hand specialist in Sydney with it) and found it difficult to keep up. I'm going to have to put the time in to future heifers though, especially to sell as house cows. I had a great opportunity with Fatima and she was okay for a bit but need to get a halter on her and retrain her. I need to learn how to make halters, then I can start with a light one and build it up... hmmm well that's what I was thinking, but we'll see.
:D
Vicki

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:03 pm

Oh wow I have so much to learn.....! Will check out the fact sheets thanks Desley for the heads up.

The two wethers we are getting are halter trained; the woman we are buying the sheep from (who has been really helpful and informative and turns out DH knew her in childhood so small world!) has tracked them down for us and recommended these ones from this particular breeder. So fingers crossed all goes well.

If they've had basic halter training, how do I go about continuing that? Is it something that stays with them or that we need to keep up in order to maintain it?

Also with our dogs - the sheep breeder warned us they can kill dogs and we'd need to introduce them to our dogs carefully and right from the start. Any other tips? She doesn't have dogs herself so need to talk with someone who does!

Also we're planning eventually to get organic certification - might have to contact the certifying bodies to see what treatments are and are not ok? Do you know?

We've got a good sizes dam and great annual rainfall (just over 700mm), also in a cooler patch here; so hopefully the heat won't be too much issue; guess we'll have to wait and see. But some good tips thanks!

And, ahem, not sure how I'd go getting a sock on a spitting alpaca's nose! Fingers crossed the ones we get are not into spitting!!!

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:56 am

hi Hayley,

I found with the spitting, only one of ours spat at me (not nice) but it's when you really eyeball them, they like many animals find that confronting so we just look down if they look uncomfortable. I had to treat one of ours eyes this morning, they're still mucky and we slowly cornered them both and then looked away until DH could grab him gently and get him into cush and hold him down for me to go over his eyes with a warm damp cloth and then pink eye spray them. It makes it much easier and not as scary for them to go gentle. Unlike some other animals that you need to grab quick. :roll:

I'd get the woman you're buying them from to show you how to halter them and walk them, the fellow we bought from did that for us and it was really helpful. If it were me, knowing what I know now, (isn't hindsight great ;) ) I'd keep up the haltering. If we'd done that loading them would have proved far easier! And you never know if or when you have to load them quickly.

The BFA or Organic Farming Australia would have info on what you can use. One thing they told us on the course was rotating the paddocks really helped break the worm cycle for sheep and it would be the same for alpacas and goats I imagine, because of the pelleted poo. Cattle it's a lot more difficult as the poo protects the worm for far longer. Alpaca poo picked up regularly, before it gets too big should keep them using the one pile and it's the best poo ever for the garden. I will miss the poo when we don't have alpacas. ;) :lol:

Vicki

dggoatlover
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby dggoatlover » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:30 am

Yep I agree with Vicki - we halter our boys at least once a week to keep them up with it. :D

And same again with rotating paddocks etc - I rotate my girls etc monthly into a new paddock. There is also a book by Pat Coleby called Natural Goat and Alpaca Care that has some good points in it for natural therapies. There is also another book available on holisitc alpaca care but I can't remember the full details - I can check it out for you if you like? Its written by an Australian breeder who has been breeding for many years and she uses only nautral therapies, minerals, herbs etc to treat her animals unless absolutely necessary.

We've found them to be excellent guardians with the goats. They are very protective of the her - even more so when there are kids around. It would be the same for sheep. One of ours even totalled a kangaroo that got too close last week - poor love :( Yes they can and will kill dogs etc. We have three house dogs which stay in the house yard and this backs onto one of the paddocks. The pacas see the dogs regularly and have come to realise that they are part of the scenery as long as they stay behind the fence. They get a sense of the paddocks etc and what is their territory. Do you keep your dogs in a set area of the property?

Oh and here is a photo of one of our boys (Rosetti) with one of our kids born this year. The alpacas will dote on babies - they adore them! :D
Image

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:50 pm

He's soooo cute Desley, they both are... and a nice length of wool unlike our poor boys still waiting for the shearer.

I've told people not to bring dogs to our place, we don't have any... why do they have to bring them escapes me. Someone did call in with a dog and left it at the front door and the pacas were in the yard well they stood squeaking at that dog and he tried to push himself through that screen, so whatever they say obviously the dogs know. :lol:

They like cats though and often touched noses with our Coopers when he was alive and they try with Mr Murphy, he's not so accommodating as Coopers he's more into Fatima. :lol: They never tried to do anything to cats.

Have you heard the warning noise Desley, first time we wondered where it was coming from, standing with tails up squeaking... but they've let us know when goannas, snakes and other things are around.
:D
Vicki

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:20 pm

Loving all this information thankyou!

Vicki - do you mean you scoop and pile alpaca poo is one spot then they'll always go there?

We'll definitely ask the woman bringing them to show us handling and give us lots of tips. It turned out that DH knew her from his childhood, so there is that commonality which helps too!

What time of year do you need to shear alpacas? The sheep we've bought are self-shedding so it will only be the alpaca's we'll need to do. Do you shear yourself or get someone in to do it?


Desley that photo is beautiful - they seem such gentle animals when it comes to their flock that they protect! I am worried about our dogs. The sheep breeder said if we introduce the dogs from day 1 slowly a bit at a time it will help. Our dogs don't run around the property wild, but they do accompany us to help put the chooks away etc as our companions; and tend to wander around a bit if we're out doing some work.

The poor kangaroo......must be amazing to see them chase down an animal they see as a threat.

What do you do when you halter your aplaca's once a week? Do you lead them along, check their health.....???

Amazingly enough just yesterday at the library I saw and borrowed Pat Coleby's 'Natural Farming'. One of my jobs on the net tonight is to order in her alpaca and sheep books. So its good to hear your recommendation! Once I've read them I'd definitely be interested in the other book you mentioned.

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:06 pm

Hmm,, being doing a bit of reading and net searching and we've decided not to get alpaca's so soon. Just don't feel ready. Need to do one animal at a time - we'll get the sheep on wednesday and spend some time learning about sheep care etc. Then when things are more comfortable we'll re-look into alpaca's again.

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:48 am

Hi Hayley,

That sounds a good idea, I'm all for going one species at a time... that way you find out more about the needs of the animals.

We did exactly that with the alpacas, DH hadn't had livestock before and had always loved them so we thought 4 wethers to see how they went up here and if we wanted to go further with them. We were lucky the fellow we bought from delivered them (we paid for petrol) and stayed overnight to show us how to halter etc.

When DH felt he was ready to try cattle we got two and went slowly, it's been a good way to go for us. Fencing needs and pasture growth are different, alpacas won't knock down long growth and bush like cattle and DH had to mow a lot for them. But sheep with their top and bottom teeth (and horses) eat much lower than cattle or pacas.

Look forward to hearing how you go with the sheep.
:D
Vicki

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:09 pm

Ah, whoops, too late to cancel the alpacas....so they are coming on wed with the sheep

We are definitely planning to take it one new species at a time and take it slow; this was a bit of a slip up in the middle of us being hectic and stressed out moving house they were offered to be delivered with the sheep and we said yes....when we probably should have said 'we'll let you know when we've given it some thought'.

Ah well, I'm sure it will be Ok and work out.

After our 13yr old deaf dog nicked off tonight (turned out she was right near the house just couldn't or wouldn't hear our calling for 2 hours....) have decided the old ones are staying put in the yard! And we'll only take our pup on leash or rope until she's fully trained. So fingers crossed it all works out with the dogs.

And I might have to quickly get over my feeling of intimidation of animals that are taller than me!

dggoatlover
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby dggoatlover » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:08 pm

Hi Haley - if you can handle your sheep you can handle your pacas. I'm sure we are all happy to try and answer you questions or find a local breeder in your area as they are usually happy to help if they can. The Alpaca Assoc website has a listing of all its members from state to state etc.

If you are only planning on using them as guardians they won't be too difficult to look after - just treat them as you would if they were a sheep in the herd. You don't need to halter train them straight away. Give them a couple of months to settle in and get used to you and the farm routine etc. You can then start training at any time you feel comfortable to do so. Once you catch them hold them in close to your chest with your arm around their neck and you can do almost anything as long as you have control of the head. The first few times you halter them they will go mental - buck, throw themselves on the ground, scream etc - just stand your ground and don't move - let them wear themselves out. Once they figure you aren't going to give in they will start to work with it and you can progress to slowly leading (or dragging :lol: ) them around - same basic principles as teaching any animal to a halter or lead. To catch them make sure you have a smallish yard/pen you can herd them into and corner them - much easier to manage that way.

Shearing - depends on the climate in your area. Up here we shear in mid-spring so the fleece is off before the summer heat hits them. Check with other breeders in your area (even check out all their websites as they offer information on those quite often) as they will be able to give you useful tips on how pacas will cope in your area and the best times for different management requirements. Keep an eye out for open days etc and stop in to see how they do things. It wil be Alpaca Week in the first week of May so a lot of studs open up for the public. You can shear yourself if you aren't planning on keeping the fleece. If you are it may pay for the first couple of years to find a shearer and watch how they do it and then when you feel a bit more comfortable have a go yourself. We use a shearer that comes through our area each year and does all the local studs.

Yes we first heard their alarm call at a breeders place. She tests all her wethers for good guarding instincts with her own dogs before she decides to sell them as guards or pets. She'll place the pacas in a small paddock and let one of her dogs past the boundary fence to check the reaction. If its a very strong instinct they will call, stomp their back feet and charge the fence if the dog ignores the first warnings.

You will be fine Haley! Sorry if all my gas bagging makes it look like there heaps to do - the amount of work really depends on wehat you want to achieve. I just love talking about all my babies :D :D :D My hubby likes the animals but when I get excited and start talking goat/paca etc his eyes just glaze over :roll: :lol:

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:04 am

Hi Hayley,

Totally agree with Desley, all great advice and you'll be fine, take it slow and get to know them.

With the catching our vet also told us to hold the tail but as with all animals right up against their bum so you don't pull the tail off... many a farmers pulled a cows tail off grabbing to near the end. :roll:

Oh this is so right and I just hate their scream, and when they get sheared I'm sure they cry
..buck, throw themselves on the ground, scream...


Just a quick one on dogs, new to a farm... don't let the dogs out of the house yard unless you're with them and ensure they're locked up at night. Dogs get into trouble when out and about and a farmer will shoot or bait them. Alternatively if you have wild dogs in the area they pack against a domestic dog and often will kill them. I've told the story before of when we first moved to the land and our lovely quiet border collie who didn't go anywhere was apparently going across the road and getting together with a farmers dogs and chasing his sheep of a night. When he told us we said 'oh no not our dog' and he replied 'that's good because I'll shoot it tonight' we locked her in the laundry that night just to be 'safe' and every night after until we had a good house yard fence. Later he said 'he didn't have to shoot that dog because it hadn't gone back'. ;)

I know my Mum has lost chooks to neighbours dogs that they let run of a night, plus in the daytime a cat and a wallaby to one left all day to it's own devices. A lovely dog but young and no-one at home to make it stay, so it wandered from place to place causing havoc, eventually it disappeared which was a great shame for the dog if it didn't go to someone who'd care for it, I really like it actually.

Vicki

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:55 pm

Ah you woman are wonderful with all your advice. Though I think at 7 months pregnant I ain't gonna be the one wrestling a kicking and screaming alpaca!!!!

They have apparently already been halter trained, I guess we just need to keep it up - but that might be my husbands job for the time being!

They arrived with the sheep this arvo and I think it was more me playing it bigger in my head and getting too worried about it all. One brown which the sheep breeder (who is friends with the alpaca breeder) said is quite calm and he seems to be. The other is white - we took the pup with us to the fence a few times; each time the alpaca heard the pup (or us) he'd look straight over to us and then put his ears back (which I assume is a sign of wariness). No charging or aggression, I guess that's because the pup is with us on a leash?

Planning to visit them regularly and take the pup each time so hopefully we'll all get to know each other. Was a bit flustered when the alpacas and sheep were initially unloaded my rather quiet pup immediately started barking at them! She seems ok now, was probably a shock to her too.

I think Dh could probably shear them - he's done sheep before. But for the first time we might get in a shearer to get some tips. The sheep breeder has a fella she can recommend; plus I saw one advertised in the local paper.

Think I'll look out for alpaca week - will be good to see and learn from other keepers.

And thanks for the dog tips Vicki. Wouldnt' you know it yesterday our 13yr old dog went missing. She's deaf (well mostly, the rest is selective hearing in her old age). We spent a good 2 hours looking for her with DH worrying about other farmers - even took the opportunity to meet the neighbours who warned us the same things; then as I knew it - she turned up right next to the house. Was there all along. Damn dog is not leaving the yard any more!!!!

The pup gets out of the yard really easily - we are in the middle of putting up a more secure fence. But thankfully she only gets out if we are out and she's left in. Which means I have to take her with me whenever I go anywhere!

Oh and the sheep didn't take long to escape either - between a gap in two fencing poles!

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:06 am

Ah Hayley,

You're not experiencing the joys of farming, everything escapes. :lol: :lol: This we didn't really tell, all of us with livestock thought we'd surprise you. :lol:

My Mum's three heifers escaped yesterday while she was out and a pain of a neighbour still smarting that she wouldn't let his cattle just run on her land (he's well known at not being a good person) called the ranger, who arrived as Mum did to take the heifers home. It was good that we know the ranger and she helped her get them home, she's doing more fencing today. ;)

Alpacas aren't sheared like sheep, the do them differently so getting to know the alpaca people and seeing it done will be very helpful to you I'm sure.

Yes often the old farmers won't say a word, they'll just shoot them if they're on their property and never say, so it's one of those forwarned things. When my Mum moved up here she had a poodle that was old and blind and she got lost in the bush, it was awful she could hear her barking and Mum kept calling but the poor thing had got confused and was running in a circle. It would have been awful if predators had got to her before Mum.

Remember you need to take some rest time and there's a lot of time to do all the things you want, so go slow and enjoy. :D
:D
Vicki

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:15 pm

Here's some pics of our alpaca's and sheep: http://quachclanjourney.wordpress.com/2 ... e/#respond

Heidi
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Heidi » Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:02 pm

Hay Hay,
I just looked at your link... my 2 yo was sitting next to me and he's exploring the English language. He saw Bill and said "cow" because if its not a dog, sheep or chook, its got to be a cow. I then said "alpaca". When we came across Ted's picture, he said "alpapa". So good enough! Thanks for the new word in his vocabulary and thanks for sharing your place with us.
H

minnie
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby minnie » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:53 pm

Hey Hayley,

It's Bill and Ted's Adventure. :lol: :lol:

They all look lovely, we have a white and and a brown one as well. Our brown one Mr Brown (we didn't name them) has the most terrible legs, and I'm soooo looking forward to the morning because the shearer is coming!

How are the alpacas going with the long grass, we found ours didn't really eat it long and prefer short, a reason I guess they have alpacas follow cattle in grazing.

Have you heard them do the squeaky thing yet??

Thanks for putting up the pics, it's great to see.
:D
Vicki

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:39 am

Hee hee no worries Heidi! My little just turned 3 year old asked if we could name the sheep. I asked if he had any ideas. He said 'Mmmm, yep. I think we should call them Bill and Ted like the alpaca's'! Least it'll be easy to remember names......

Yep they were named by my hubby after the awesome adventurers themselves....he's since decided to name the Ram after the fella who does the time travelling in the movie. Though we discovered last night that whilst he is calling the brown one bill and the white one ted, I've been calling them the other way round!

As for the long grass, the breeder when she dropped them off commented how they won't eat it; but said there'll be plenty of food for them because of the size of the paddock and the grass growing underneath that they'll be able to get to, and that it should work out fine.

Looking at getting some cattle next, so yep definitely plan to rotate with the cattle first followed by the alpaca's and sheep.

Haven't heard any noises as yet. Though I did see a nearby farm had a herd guardian alpaca for their sheep - and it was all white except for a huge brown splodge all over its back!

dggoatlover
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby dggoatlover » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:24 am

Love your blog! And your boys are beautiful!

Yeah ours prefer the short grass as well which is fine as the goats prefer to eat the crap stuff! So suits both really weel sharing a paddock :D

We have escapees on a regualr basis. If there is a way out the goats will find it :evil: Definitely keeps you on your toes! :lol: :lol:

Hayhay
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Re: Alpacas in CQ

Postby Hayhay » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:03 pm

Thanks Desley!

Hmm. a friend is really keen for us to run goats - she really misses not having goat meat readily available in Australia. I'd be happy to but first we need to make sure fencing is REALLY secure!!!!! I've heard alot about goats escaping..... What sort of fencing do you have for them?


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