Saturday, August 16, 2008

Giving Shots using Camelidynamics

Today while my husband was out picking up hay and I was alone at the barn, I decided to try my new technique that I learned from Marty for giving shots. (By the way, I use Ivermectin for Meningial worm prevention at the dose of 1 cc per 50 pounds).

First a little history. When we started 6 years ago, we would chase the animal, my husband would grab and hold and I would give them the shot, albeit clumsily. After reading Marty's book, about 3-4 years ago, I developed a new technique in which I would try to give the shot be myself standing in front of the animal, putting my left arm around their neck and giving the shot with my right hand. That worked on most of the animals, and was clearly better than the chase, but still did not make the animals happy. I blocked their escape route and some of the larger alpacas had a definate advantage over me. My llamas had no issue with shots and I did not need to employ any technique except to ask them to stand and perhaps bribe them with grain.

After my advanced clinic with Marty, she showed us her technique for giving shots. . . far superior than what I had been trying on my own. In a pen (10x10 at the largest, smaller is better), bring in animals enough that there is not a great amount of room for them to run and they feel more comfortable with many friends. For my big boys (200 lbs), this amounts to about 6 animals. I get all my needles drawn up for an individual pen, pick an animal (in my head) and then lean over the animal from the side and give the shot in the opposite side then the one I am standing on. I allow them to walk if they want, never block their escape route and do not hold onto them. I don't need to chase or grab at all. I approach from the side behind their eye.

I was able to give all my boys shots this way today, except for one. They seemed much happier for several reasons. The first I think is because I walked into the pens properly with my shoulders opened in a non-agressive posture, I never blocked their escape route and I thnk the fact that I went into the pens alone without my husband made them feel more confident and trusting that no one was going to grab and hold.

Overall it was a tremendously successful day. So what about the one boy that did not want to work with me and my new technique? Sunny is his name and is one of my top studs (a Bueno son) and wellover 200 pounds. He is usually VERY cooperative and easy to catch. I usually only need to use the midline catch and halter him for breeding and he never once struggled. I thought about what made today different? I know he doesn't like my husband and I usually can give him shots without issue. I stopped for a second and thought . . . ahhhh - I put a new boy in the field last week . . . Sunny is the king of that field and perhaps he did not want to "give in" to the 2 legger with the new younger male watching? I used the wand and the catch rope, put it high on his neck and waiting until he felt balanced. Once he relaxed, I kept contact on the rope and administered the shot. When it was over, I removed the rope and he just stood there as if to say "Oh, that is all you wanted to do?". He did not run or move away from me.

All in all a wonderful day. No muss, no fuss! I think the animals enjoyed the experience and are happy I made the trip to Oregon!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Marty and Me

When I was in Oregon at the advanced clinic, a very talented group of folks attended with me. Not just alpaca talent, but music talent. Here is the clip to the video Jen wrote and performed for us. We were all amazed and loved every second of it.

I learned alot about animals but also feel I made some good friends when I was there . . .

Click here to watch

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I was never a person who "herded" my alpacas and llamas. I simply put food in the troughs (in the barn) and they learned to come in once the barn door opened. Well at Marty's clinic in Oregon, I learned how easy it is to herd a group of animals.

We needed to move a group of male yearlings from the weanling area to the pen where there are other young boys and of course a guard llama. Using a wand and a dressage whip as the other wand (I just placed a wand order from Marty), I decided to give it a try. The trick is to guide them with the whips and use them as a deterrent. We never hit them with them, but may touch them to guide them to where we want them to go. I went into the pen that is in the barn where the boys were and closed the barn door. I "cut" them from the rest of the group and guided them into the aisle way of the barn. Once all 5 of them were in the aisle of the barn, I simply guided them into the new pen (hubby was the gate keeper). All but one of the boys went in like it was no big deal. One boy "Montana" wanted to run around the barn and visit the other animals, but with a little guidance, he too went into the new pen. It was all very easy for us and seemingly stress free for the boys.

Always looking to improve on techniques - the only thing I will do different next time, is to make sure there are no other animals in the barn sticking their noses over the gates, this distracts the animals I am working with, and makes our job a bit harder.

The boys are enjoying their new pen with the other boys and I did not have to grab or wrestle anyone to do it.

Respect and safety for the animals is what you need to keep in mind, as well as "feeling" what they may be thinking such as fear, stress etc.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cocoa Day 2

Cocoa is nursing on her own and mom has plenty of milk. Her IgG came back fine so the worst is over. She is still a little wobbly, so mom and baby will stay in the barn until she gets stronger. She has gained 0.2 lbs, so I am confident that she just needs a few days to gain strength in those legs so she can match up with the other crias in the field. Here is Cocoa with her mom "Sunrose by a Nose" in the center of my barn stretching their legs.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cocoa the premature cria

We feed beetpulp in the morning and grain at night to all our alpacas in the barn so that we can look at each one of them everyday at least 2 times in a smaller space in case anyone looks "odd". We also like to make sure they come in for their grain, because they love it and if one does not come in, we know something is off. In order to do this and not be run over, we close the barn doors, fill the troughs and then open the doors and they come a running. On Monday morning, when my barn manager's daughter opened the door to the big girls field, she called screaming for us. . .

One of my girls (Savannah) was due on August 19th, and to my surprise, she was laying in front of the door next to a beautiful little dark brown baby girl. She was 2 weeks early and obviously not done cooking in her mom's belly. This was about 8:30am.

I took the cria's temperature and it was only 94.3F. Normal temps are 99.5 - 102.5F. I picked up the little girl "Cocoa", and carried her in the barn. We have a separate "new mommy pen". We immediately put a jacket on her and began warming her. After 30 minutes she was still only 94.7F, so I decided to get a heat lamp on her to warm her further. If a cria's temp is not around 100F or so, her first drink of colostrum will do no good. At 10am, her temp was up to 97.5F, but Cocoa was still lethargi and not able to get up, although she was sucking the air. I gave her 3ccs of light caro syrup to boost blood sugar and kept her under the lamp.

At 11am, her temp had reached 98.4F. The lamp was working. I gave 1.5ccs more of caro and continued to watch her.

At noon, she was trying hard to stand and her temp had reached 99.8F, so I decided to milk out mom and get some into the baby. Mom was an absolute doll and just stood there while my huband petted her neck and I milked her out. 18ccs were gathered and I gave it to the baby with a 3cc syringe. She greddily suckled he syringe and did not miss a drop.

At 1pm - Cocoa was trying to stand but could not find the udder, so we milked out mom again (another 18ccs) and gave it to Cocoa.

At about 2pm, the baby was able to stand and nurse from mom. Mom stood there lke a statue while the baby latched on. It did not last long, so we nursed mom out again, only 6 ccs this time, so Cocoa must have got some milk out of mom. We gave this to the baby and coninued to watch.

Cocoa started nursing at 3pm about every 15 minutes. Still shaky but able to find the udder without much issue, we were past the hard part.