Sunday, June 24, 2012
Alpacas and Llamas are pretty adaptable animals. There are alpaca farms in countries all over the world, everywhere from Canada to Australia, Europe and of course South America. The animals handle the cold pretty well due to their thick, warm fleece. The summer can be a challenge, especially in areas where the summers are extremely hot.
Shady, with Symbol, enjoying the spray
We're lucky here in Connecticut. The summers are hot and normally there are only a few days that are so hot that we worry about our animals. Every year to prepare for summer we shear our animals in May. We purposely pick this time of year so that their fleece isn't as think during the summer, but has time to grow out a bit before the really hot weather hits. Believe it or not the fleece will serve as a bit of insulation from the sum. We have fans running throughout our barns too and open the windows to create good air flow. We also left plenty of trees in the pastures and near the barns so that they stay shaded a good part of the day.
During really, really hot weather we need to take extra measures and set up sprinklers for them. Yes, sprinklers. Last year in late July we had a few days around 109/110 degrees. Our gelding, Shady was seriously overheating. He was panting and drooling so badly that it was just pouring out of his mouth. He was very close to experiencing heat stroke, so we turned on our sprinklers and he immediately went over to them and stuck his head in. After about 15 minutes he stopped panting, cushed and just started chilling out in the shade.
This year we've had such weird weather that we've already had a heat wave and have had to pull the sprinklers out early. We had it spraying out above one of their waterers. The first two alpacas that always come over when we turn the water on are Amanda and Spicey. They absolutely love it, sticking their heads up into the mist so that it sprays their necks and faces. As they do this they look like they're smiling and have such a look of contentment on their faces. They turn around so their sides get wet and will even cush in the puddle of water that forms under the spray. In really hot weather, they'll dip the bottoms of their long, graceful necks into the waterer to get some extra relief.
Our other "water alpaca", Gracie, will come over and stick a front leg all the way in the waterer as she somehow dips her neck in too. I think if we had a wading pool in the pasture Gracie would get right in it and lay down. I'm sure she'd try rolling it too. Not all of our kids are into the water. Gracie's daughter Bailey doesn't seem to have her mother's love for water. She has yet to come near the sprinkler and just looks at her mom with the most perplexed look on her face while her mom's playing in the water. Adelaide wants to get sprayed so that she can cool down, but doesn't like to get wet. She'll run up to the spray move her head back and forth really quickly and then jump away. Some of our alpacas won't even go near the water and prefer to lay under the fans instead. Our llamas will only lay in the spray when it super, super hot and when they do they turn into "sprinkler hogs". They're really not into sharing.
We've found that the sprinklers are not only a great way to keep our animals cool and healthy in the summer, but it's also very entertaining!
Amanda and Spicey playing in the water