A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

September 11, 2020

The grass is always greener – or is it the water is always cleaner?

Filed under: Alpacas, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 11:01 am

This week saw a sudden change in temperature at the farm – from Summer to Winter overnight! One day it was in the high-90s, the next day temperatures were in the mid-30s and with the strong winds it felt like it was in the 20’s – brr!  We also got a little rain, for which we are always grateful, and that set my mind thinking about water.

When we first purchased alpacas, I remember reading about how alpacas and llamas love fresh water and how important it was to ensure they always had a clean, fresh supply of water.

Over the years we have had various water tubs and buckets, along with a few automatic waterers which are great at providing fresh clean water. The automatic waterers require a much more complicated installation than a bucket and come at a higher price than a bucket, but they really do a good job.

We have spent many hours keeping water buckets clean, scrubbing off algae and removing sand that has been added to the water by water loving alpacas sticking their feet in water buckets, as several of ours like to do.

Many alpacas have a love or water. In the hot months they love to stand in it, they beg to be hosed down on their legs and bellies for a cooling “shower” and they also love to drink it. But somewhere along the line the alpacas didn’t read the alpaca manual about fresh, clean water. Over the 21 years I have had alpacas and have observed alpacas I have learned something – alpacas like tasty water and sometimes that means it’s not clean!

When we have a heavy rainfall at the farm, we often get large pools of water forming. I can guarantee that when that happens, the alpacas will choose to drink from those pools of not such clean looking water rather that drinking from the clean bucket of water that has been set out for them. They will stand with their feet in the pooled water and take long drinks. It’s fun to watch the water travel down those long necks as the alpacas swallow. Sometimes in the summer the pools of water even have tadpoles that have hatched in the water, or toads hopping about the edge of the water, or water bugs or mosquito larvae but the alpacas love that water over the water in the water buckets.

There is more to the alpaca/water relationship than taste though. Like humans, some like their water one way, others like it a different way. Cinnamon and Geraint love to drink the water as it is coming out of the faucet before it hits the tub. When I take a bucket of water over for the chickens Black Prince, Choco and Espresso will meet me the door to the chicken coop and will beg to drink that water from that bucket, even though it is from the very same faucet that the water in their own water bucket came from! Coraline loves to stand in the water, mainly in the spring and summer but sometimes even on cool winter days. Black Prince likes to drink the water as soon as it has hit the bucket, pushing the hose out of the way with his nose so he can do so. When we have a sick alpaca, we might have him or her isolated in a pen so that we can monitor food and water intake. Over the years we have learned that we need to ensure that other alpacas can’t reach the water in the sick alpaca’s pen, as when alpacas see another bucket of water it instantly becomes attractive to them. In alpaca land while the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, it seems as if the water is cleaner (or tastier) on the other side of the fence too!
While I can provide fresh water every day, I cannot stop the alpacas from quenching their thirst from a puddle, no matter how murky that puddle appears to be. They have the choice between that puddle and clean water and somehow I don’t think my chasing them away form that puddle will stop them from drinking it, after all they know I have other things to do and eventually I wont be there to watch them. 

It’s fun to watch the different alpaca personalities with their different preferences for water. At the end of the day if they are drinking water, and the water they are drinking is safe, then I am happy to let them drink the water of their choice.  As Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “A man of wisdom delights in water.”  Apparently, our beautiful alpacas delight in water too!

Read more Stories from the Farm at https://www.windrushalpacas.com/s/stories

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