A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 30, 2008

Mags Takes A Step In The Right Direction

 

For some time now we have been trying to persuade Mags, the orphaned cria, that trying some alpaca pellets would be a good thing to do.  For those new to the blog, Mags was orphaned the day after he was born and has been having a trying time learning that he is in an alpaca not a human, or that humans are not alpacas.

 

Behaviorally Mags has made slow but steady progress.  He is much calmer around humans and has learnt to keep a respectful distance.  Once in a while he will transgress in his behavior, usually when we have had a farm visit, but he is still young and there is time to get him on the right path before hormones kick in and complicate things.

 

One of the things that is a delight to see is Mags joining in with the evening cria play.  When he first arrived he was very much the loner, with the exception of Song (another orphaned cria) he rarely interacted with the other alpacas voluntarily.  Now he will sometimes join in as the other crias race and prong around the pasture.  Slowly but surely he is becoming part of the herd.

 

At 56 lbs and five months old Mags really does not need the three bottles of milk a day we have been giving him.  With Mags though, the bottle has become more of a security blanket than a nutritional need and the sight of his bottle also seems to instigate some of his bad behavior.

 

Last Saturday I decided that it was time to cut Mags and Song back to two bottles.  It had been a busy day with the birth of Melody’s cria and I went past the time of the mid day bottle.  Both Mags and Song did not seem bothered, going about their business eating hay and lying in the sunshine.  I watched the two throughout the afternoon and neither one came and paced by the fence, so the mid day bottle was dropped and has not returned.

 

Having dropped the mid day bottle the next challenge was to get Mags to try some alpaca pellets.  Song has been eating pellets for a little while now and needed no encouragement in eating, but Mags had, to date, refused to have anything to do with the pellets.

 

Every day we had been putting him in with the other crias in his age group, hoping that their behavior would encourage him to eat pellets too.   Mags though would not join in, preferring to sulk in the corner.  Occasionally he might take one pellet in his mouth, roll it around and then spit it out again, but that was the best that he would do.  Hay was not a problem to Mags and he ate that willingly, but pellets just didn’t capture his attention.

 

On Sunday I happened to have a bowl of feed with me when Mags came into one of the shelters.   No other alpacas were around and so I offered him the feed bowl to see what he would do.   At first he did his usual trick of taking one pellet and spitting it out, but then very gently he tried another one and this time he chewed it and swallowed it – progress!  For several minutes Mags slowly took small mouthfuls of the pellets and ate them.

 

At evening chores Mags went into the cria pen as usual, the cria group eat out of communal troughs and are quite comfortable establishing their place at the troughs, but for Mags I felt that perhaps the troughs were too competitive, so I took him a small bowl of pellets and set it down in front of him.  Slowly he lowered his head and started eating.

 

The next day at feeding time I was prepared to do the same for Mags, but before I could put his bowl down he already had his head in one of the trays and was eating – finally!

 

So Mags has taken another step in the direction of acting like an alpaca, for the moment he is quite timid in his approach to eating pellets which surprises me given his usual boisterous personality.  Maybe in time that will change, maybe he is still adjusting to the fact that he is an alpaca and feels he is low in the pecking order in the cria group.  Still there continues to be hope for Mags.  I feel he will always need mindful handling, especially as he approaches and reaches breeding age, but we have time and experience on our hands and I hope with those two commodities Mags will one day be able to be a well mannered breeding male who produces champion offspring.

 

Rosemary

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