Alpacas love water – especially on a hot day. My females will stand in line to get their bellies hosed down. Then they wander off and find a cool place to roll, or lie in the mud, or bucket dance in their water pails.
This regular ritual allows me to give each one a close inspection. I check for the changes in the udder, birth canal opening, body score and personalities. I also look at their toenails and any possible wounds or lesions. Because I control the flow of water, they let me get real close to them with no fear. If need be, I can catch one easily.
If you are going to give them a shower, keep the stream of water aimed at their feet and lower belly. This will prevent water from collecting in the fleece on their back and possibly generating a highly humid condition that could harm them.
Make sure that they always have shade throughout the day. This is especially important for the fully fleeced females in late term when the weather starts to turn warm. Even if you have just shorn your herd – they need access to shade in order to control their body temperature. And in humid parts of the country fans are a must to cool and circulate the air. (Alpaca Farm Girl from Fairhope Alpacas in Alabama shares some of her tips about keeping her alpacas cool over the summer – check out http://bit.ly/YVexP.)
Oh, remember the males! They love to have their bellies hosed too.
One of my “BIG BOYS” will rear up on his back legs – exposing his belly. When he brings his front feet down he does a “quick-step” and loves to splash me with mud as he rears up again. This dance continues as long as I aim the hose at his legs. I keep my distance with him because he also lunges quickly on those back legs towards the source of the water. (Allow time for changing clothes after this shower ritual … if you have a dancer like mine!)
Until next time.