Monday, 24 March 2008

Getting ready for the first alpaca show of the year

The bad weather has stopped me getting on with halter training our young alpacas to such an extent that I now find that we are going to our first alpaca show of the season next Saturday and none of them are halter trained yet.

We were away yesterday and Saturday at a dog agility competition at Ardingly, where the weather was less than lovely, but got up this morning to quite tolerable weather. Managed to get the washing started and even blown dry on the line and set out on our crash course in halter training.

I have entered 10 alpacas in the Bristol show but after a final examination today have decided not to enter our Suri (who is actually a huacaya/Suri cross) or Miguel. Miguel is a young black male who is extremely attractive but I have decided he does not meet the high standards required of a potential stud male and he will now be sold as a non-breeding male. This means that I have seven alpacas to train by Friday so they are having two lessons today.

I have already spent several days just catching them, handling them, examining their teeth and ears as a judge would do and they are used to having their halters put on. The trick now is to get them to walk nicely and to stand still and politely whilst being judged. Surprisingly they have moved quickly on and most of them will now at least walk a short distance providing their are other alpacas with them. The final test will be to get them to walk away from the herd, which of course goes against all their natural instincts.

Our stud male, Alario, is the father of most of this year's show alpacas and he has certainly produced some stunning cria (youngsters). Competition is very keen at alpaca shows and some of the bigger breeders with herds in the hundreds and even thousands have a huge selection of animals to chose from, so small breeders like us have a hard time keeping up.

If we get any prizes it will enhance the value of Alario as a stud male.

Mike found a wounded rat in his workshop which he despatched without hesitation. He then found our lurcher, Maddy, bleeding profusely from her nose. Presumably she caught the rat but got bitten. I phoned the vet in case we should do anything special with regard to rat bites but he said as long as she does not become listless or sickly with a couple of hours she should be OK. I dabbed it with iodine and put a pressure pad on her nose and finally it stopped bleeding.

We had just cleared up the blood when she decided her bloody feet needed a lick, which she did at the same time as rubbing her injured nose on the concrete floor, thus making it bleed once again. This happened several times and I took the dogs for a walk with me whilst I fed the alpacas to try and get her mind off it. Finally she seems to be keeping still long enough for the bleeding to stop permanently - fingers crossed.

We are always careful about not spilling dog or alpaca food or leaving anything out to attract rats, but unfortunately in the country there is not much you can do to avoid them completely.

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