This month is always very exciting because it’s when we start to wean our not-so-little cria! We started our halter training a little early, and you can keep yourself up to date with their progress on our Instagram Highlights here!
We have decided to do a Q&A for weaning because we get a lot of questions about the subject, so have a little look at the journey our little ones go through to become independent little grown ups!
Why do you wean them?
“Weaning allows our little ones to become independent, it’s a very important part of them growing up. Not weaning the babies will mean that they will continue to be reliant on their mum. Which is fine while their little but in regards to feeding, the bigger they are, the more they will take from their mum. Not only that, if we don’t wean them, it makes it more difficult to do husbandry with them because their mum will be a little overprotective of their not-so-little one”
What age do you start?
“We always start weaning around this time of the year, because our cria are hitting the 30kg target. This is usually around the 6 month mark”
How do you wean?
“The first step is to give the babies their six month weanling medicine, and we wait for that to take effect. The next step is to then transfer the mums back to their original field, eventually we will be left with a field of mums, and a field of babies (or as they’re now named, weanlings)”
Do they cry?
“When their mums are first taken away, they do cry, yes. But after a while they do get used to it. At the age of six months, they are spending most of their time playing with their friends, it is only really when they first see their mum leave that they worry. But we wean them in batches so they’re not the only alpaca without their mum with them”
Do they eat more food?
No the weanlings will have the same amount of food after Mum has left”
How long does it take?
“The actual process takes us two days. We give them their injections and then wait two days to ensure that it’s in their system before we take mum away. In regards to the weanlings getting used to it, it’s entirely down to the individual. Some will get over it in a day, while if we have a typical “mummy’s boy” it can take a little longer”
Do they need any extra supplements?
“As they are no longer feeding from mum, we provide them with extra supplements to make up for what they’re no longer getting from their mum. It is crucial the we keep up to date with their wormers because the stress can cause a worm burden”
How do the mums cope?
“Very similar to the babies… The mums will miss their baby for a while, but eventually will get used to it and will carry on as normal”
Do they ever get reunited?
“Our young females will go back into their field with their mums, the boys however don’t get to see them again, except when passing by their field on the walks!”
What is halter training, why do you do it?
“Halter training is a very important part of growing up. If we halter train the alpacas from a young age, it makes it very easy to handle them as they grow older. The younger they are, the easier it is for us to train them… Not only that, throughout December, our weanlings go out on some of the walks with the public. After Christmas, the boys will stay with the pet boys and will be on the walks with the rest of them, while the female weanlings will be moved to the females field”
How do you halter train, how long does it take?
“The method we use to halter train is the pull and release technique. This is as simple as it sounds. When we pull on the rope, the alpaca will step forward, so we will then release the rope. Eventually this teaches the alpaca that we will not pull if they walk. Of course, when first starting out, we simply put a halter on so that they can get used to the feeling of it on their face.
In regards to length of time that it takes. It varies from alpaca to alpaca, some alpacas will take to it easily, while others insist on lying on the floor instead of walking anywhere! But all in all, it can take up to about 10 sessions from start to finish”