On-Farm Emergency Treatment of Alpacas

On-Farm Emergency Treatment of Alpacas

by David E Anderson, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS
International Camelid Institute
College of Veterinary Medicine
The Ohio State University

Unfortunately, emergencies occasionally occur on the farm. The successful resolution of any emergency depends upon our ability to recognize and effectively deal with the crisis. The typical “on-farm” emergencies include soft tissue injuries, choke, obstruction of breathing in new borns, and birthing difficulties. Continue reading

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Spit and the Human

Spit and the Human

~ As re-told by Ed Downs, Kindred Spirits Ranch
July 29, 2007

Many believe that alpaca’s intentionally sprawl out in the middle of a paddock, heads flung back and legs all a dither, purely for the fun of making alpaca owners think they have died. In some cases they sleep so soundly that true fear enters the picture. But, there is another truth.

Alpacas possess a mystical quality that transcends our understanding of space and time. During these periods of disturbing repose they, it is said, visit a magical place wherein exist a marvelous school of alpaca learning. This mythical university is proctored by famed alpacas of the past and present who teach young alpacas how do deal with the strange, but sometimes amusing and endearing, world of bipedal humanoids. Let’s listen in as a grand and wizened old alpaca, still rich in his chocolate color and wise through his long years with humans, lectures on the relationship of “Spit and the Human.” Professor Hershey begins:

“Many of the human species who co-inhabit our physical world think that the camilid behavior of “spitting” is both strange and disgusting. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Professor Hershey leans upon a rail and studies the impact of his shared wisdom. “As you know, we alpacas do not need a spoken language to communicate. Unlike humans, who have lost their primal communications skills, we alpacas use a complex language of body movement, posturing, sounds and eye contact to communicate a wide variety of social rights and wrongs. The position of our tails, shifting of weight form one leg to the other, the twitch or position of an ear or perhaps a focused gaze at a distant object all clearly communicate needs, social standing and even danger. While humans seem unwilling to learn how to understand our vocal talents, we do posses a large vocabulary, consisting of complex sounds, each having specific meaning.” Now, with a sigh, Professor Hershey laments, “But, alas, all of our highly developed communication techniques can fail when we feel challenged or angered, especially if by one of our own who steps out of the social order.”

Professor Hershey, his tone more serious, continues, “When all else has failed, we express our displeasure by hocking up a really good loogy and launching a well placed spit. When done with skill, careful aiming and velocity, the effect can be alarming. A good, stinky spit (we call that a “third stomach zinger”) will truly impress your adversary with your resolve and may end the conflict at that moment. Unfortunately, engaging in a long spitting match will end up as quite self defeating, in that your lower lip will become anesthetized. This prevents you from eating, which is probably what the spitting match was all about to begin with.” “Regrettably,” laments Professor Hershey, “Many of our humans think that our spit was purposely aimed at them, thus a reputation that has earned us the standard first question of all newcomers to the world of alpacas. Do they spit?” With a mischievous grin, the Professor adds, “But this reputation can be used to our advantage. “Rosita,” Professor Hershey calls out to a beautiful rose-gray little girl, as he picks up a stack of papers, “Would you be so kind as to pass this flyer to the rest of the class? There will be a quiz at the end of the week.”

The hand-ort reads as follows;

Spit and the Human

  1. Spit is a useful psychological tool in the training of humans. The very fact that most humans, when asked “do they spit” will firmly answer “NO,” means that they are willing to make excuses for you and do your biding. This is an important first step in gaining control over your human.
  2. Always fold your ears back and establish a wide eyed visual contact with your human before you spit. This will train them to respond to you without the need to actually spit, the results of which could interfere with your fair share of the food.
  3. Quickly establishing the “armed and ready” look will train your human to get your food to you faster.
  4. Adult females should use spit freely as a means of disciplining crias when they step out of their social standing or interfere in adult issues. Hopefully humans will learn form this and spit at their crias when allowed to run lose amongst pens at an alpaca show or while in human feeding areas. It has been reported that some humans even allow their crias to make great noise while in flying machines and, worse yet, interrupt human communication between adults. Let’s see if we can help humans understand the value of a good, up form the deep, spit.
  5. Occasional, the males in a herd should demonstrate the tactics of a well thought our spitting match between several advisories. It is important for humans to see how silly the entire event looks. Hopefully, human males will see that the result of physical conflict is that none of the participants can eat and breeding may be difficult. Perhaps humans will learn that spitting is significantly more earth friendly than guns, bombs, terror, violent intolerance or nuclear weapons.
  6. Last, but not least, occasionally display all the signs of getting ready to spit, then change your mind and give your human a kiss. This will completely disarm them and keep them coming back for more.

Professor Hershey smiled faintly as the class read the hand-out, and then dismissed the group. All in attendance returned to their paddocks and arose, refreshed and ready to hock up a good one.

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