Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Halter training

Well at last the weather has improved, albeit temporarily. I can start on my halter training programme for this year.

I always leave the cria in the herd with their mothers largely undisturbed to enable them to learn herd behaviour, which will stand them in good stead as they grow older and eventually reach adult hood.

My next step is to bring the whole herd in or at least into the catch pens. The first couple of sessions I just catch and hold each cria and release it as soon as it is relaxed. Once they relax quickly on catching I start to carry out mock veterinary or show judge procedures such as looking at their teeth, checking their tails and genitals as well as looking in their ears for signs (unwanted of course) of parasites like ear mites.

We are now at this stage with this year's cria. All bar one have excellent dentition, and I think it is probably me being too fussy with the odd one out.

The next step will be to quickly put a halter on the cria and just let them wander around with the halter on for a while until they are grazing or eating happily with the halter on. All of them should be ready for this stage within the next couple of days.

I have now been through the credentials of the herd and selected the animals who will be marked for the sale pen. I shall be keeping the alpacas with the most show successes and a few that I judge are of more value to our herd than the money they would fetch.

I have also entered eight for the Spring show at Bristol which takes place on the 29th and 30th March.

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