Alpaca handling

A school environment is a very different environment from the normal one that most animals would be used to. There’s a much higher frequency of handling required in a school, bells go, students come, they don’t necessarily understand that animals require the quietness and the calmness to keep them in a stress free way. Many students are unaccustomed to working around animals and it’s our job to train them in what animals require. Most animals like slow movements, so we need to teach our students to not run around them. We also need to teach our students to speak nice and quietly around the animals, screaming, yelling, throwing bags, all those sorts of things can really unsettle an animal and make our handling of them much more stressful. In a classroom situation you’d first explain exactly what’s expected of them. Students also need to know animal behaviours, so they need to be able to stand and observe what’s happening to the animals in a paddock. A calm animal is an easier animal to handle, it’s also a much safer animal to handle. These are important things when dealing with large animals particularly alpacas. They can tend to be quite flighty, but if you deal with them quietly and consistently in a normal tone of voice, speak to your animals whilst you’re handling them, touch your animals frequently, get them used to being touched around the places where they wouldn’t normally, for example around their head and their bonnet and their ears. This will also ensure that management time when you’re shearing or drenching or vaccinating or hoof paring that the animals would become less stressed and the management practice will be much safer, much cleaner and much more efficient. Alpaca harnesses are different from sheep harnesses, they’re basically in a different proportion and generally a bit softer around the nose. Alpacas are obligate nose breathers which means that they breathe through their nose. If you pinch over the top of their nose or have their harness too low on their nose, then they actually interferes with their breathing. It’s important that you fit the harness properly and you instruct students on how to fit the harness properly so it’s snug up at the top of the nose and nice and tight around the back of the neck, this prevents the animal from becoming distressed with breathing difficulties.

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