A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 10, 2007

Anyone For A Shower?

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — alpacalady @ 7:39 am

The Girls Take a ShowerThe last two days have been really hot with temperatures in the high nineties.  Actually we shouldn’t complain, as usually our temperatures at this time of the year are a little higher and would have been so for several weeks.

We are fortunate that our heat is a dry heat and so while it is still a herd management issue it is less so than for alpaca breeders who are dealing not only with heat but also humidity.  Our nighttime temperatures also drop off by a good twenty degrees that also helps the alpacas by allowing them a nice cooling off period over night.

During the heat of the summer the fans are running full time in the alpaca shelters, electrolyte and plain water are available to the alpacas and we check their water supply more frequently during the day.

The alpacas love to sit in front of the fans, especially the pregnant girls, and often I will spray down the shelter floor so that as the fan blows across the wet sand there is an evaporative cooling process which helps keep things a little more comfortable.

One thing all of the alpacas enjoy during the heat of summer is a “Shower”.  We turn on the hose and they come running!  We then soak down their belly and leg area and boy are they happy.  Cinnamon bounces up and down for joy, TeQueely loves to splash her feet in the water, Bjorn will lie down in the wet puddles caused by the hose, and Ma Cushla takes the opportunity to take a cook drink directly from the hose.  The crias are just starting to learn that the “shower” is of benefit to them and usually stay to the edge of the herd, tentatively venturing closer to the hose and dipping their feet into the water’s flow.

It’s important when hosing down alpacas to only do the legs and belly and to hose those areas down to the skin.  The alpaca’s thermal cooling window is through their belly, which is why it is a good area to spray.  What you don’t want to do is wet the whole alpaca, as the water that goes onto the top of them will sit on top of the fleece and create an insulating layer and actually make them hotter.

A couple of years ago someone did a study to determine if hosing down alpacas is actually cooling to them.  The study concluded that it didn’t make any difference to them, but the alpacas say that they disagree with that conclusion.  Just come to our farm and watch them run over to the hose when we turn it on, perhaps the hose really does not have a cooling effect on them, but it certainly makes them happy so as long as the alpacas enjoy their “shower” that is what they will get! 

Rosemary 

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