Friday, January 8, 2010
Observation, as always, is key and it's smart to hone in on the youngest, oldest, and lactating females who will be most vulnerable. Shivering is cause for immediate concern. Our 18-year-old female, Satin, is wearing an "extra" alpaca coat after she was shivering on the first really cold days last month and is doing fine. Any animal that isn't completely thriving should be scrutinized carefully, as the extreme cold is an extra stress- healthy alpacas can handle one stress at a time (like weaning, showing, etc.) but multiple, layered stresses can prove deadly.
Yesterday when it was snowing like crazy and temperatures were dropping, the alpacas gathered right alongside the windbreak, welcomed with more "good" hay scattered along the ground where all can reach it without fighting. Putting it along the fence worked well and gave us something to tie the bales to.
We find that the hardest thing for the alpacas and llamas is in earlier fall (or late spring after shearing), when we have driving rain followed by large temperature drops. The drier cold is really not that hard on them- they do have on thick alpaca fleece from topknot to toenails, right? Still, they don't appreciate strong, cold wind and those that have shelters will go inside when it's windy or wet most of the time.