In the past, some people have asked how much work keeping and breeding alpaca takes. The general answer is “not much,” especially compared to sheep and other more labor-intensive stock. This weekend was probably the most intenisve work we have done to date. Saturday we vaccinated and gave vitamin-D shots to all of them, which took about 2 hours. In the process we figured out what sort of yard-design would allow us to do that procedure more quickly. Sunday we spat-off all 16 girls, which took about an hour. Trying to feed the girls by Highland Heir in assembly-line fashion was quite frustrating at first, until Tam figured out a way to improvise a new pen design by having me hold a spare gate in position.
From these two experiences we have many good ideas for the design of the handling yards I hope to build up in the Towers paddock this winter. Then the animal handling will be even easier, so even as the herd grows, it will not take much time to do all the basic maintenance.
Oh, and if you are wondering, the sum total of “preventive maintenance” the alpaca get is: vaccination 1/year, vitamin shots 2/year, and periodic fecal egg counts to see if they have worms and need drenching. Pretty easy. Of course this summer it was balanced out by bottle-babies and premature babies that required lots of work and attention, but them’s the breaks.