Feeling Hot Hot Hot!

As I type this at 7.30am in the morning I realize that the heat today is going to be a scorcher! Good ol’ Aussie summer has turned on like a bang the past week, so time to really put some measures out for the alpacas to help them cope too. Airconditioning might be a little expensive to put in a shed so here are some tips that might help the kids feel some reprieve.

  • Fresh Water - in the trough once a week for the bigger troughs and at least once every couple of days for the small ones – might seem pretty obvious to some but fresh water that hasn’t been in a trough baking in the sun for the past month is very refreshing and soothing.
  • Sprinklers – you know the steel round rose type? The good old ones? They’re the ones that are great to use. Anything that has plastic in it, on it or completely made of it, will not survive the onslaught on animals fighting for prime position.  Alpacas LOVE water. You probably already know this and have the odd one or two or ten that like to get IN their trough, so a sprinkler is a great option to have there for them. This cools their thermostat, and soaks the fleece on their belly and legs, to allow for the breeze afterward to keep cooling.
  • Hose their legs and bellies – If you’re like me then you like to be around your alpacas as much as possible and having the hose gives you the opportunity to have your alpacas mob you anytime there is running water coming out the end of it. If ever you want to be up close and personal with your pacas then this is the way to do it. As I have almost 100 alpacas to “hose” I like to try and keep a fence between us as its like a swarm of your biggest fans trying to get close to you which ends up with you being just as wet as they are. This way I can share the love with ease. Try and keep the hosing to just their legs and bellies as soaking fleece across the back in the hot sun can go the other way and feel a bit like a greenhouse for them. But rest assured that they will cope if they happen to get completely soaked.
  • Electrolytes for their water – I found putting some salt blocks in their troughs to dissolve and give them a bit of something extra to put back in their bodies from sweating is a great idea. There are quite a few different choices out there from powders to blocks, just make sure that you read the directions on the packet as too much and it will make the water too salty. Generally, alpacas can have most salt blocks/powders out there on the market although please read directions of product.
  • Shelter – Alpacas are awesome at regulating their body heat when they sit in the shade. They will position their back legs to allow the air flow under their bellies. Lots of shady trees and or any man-made shelter on offer so they can escape the searing sun.
  • Paddling pool – another choice is to purchase a children’s plastic paddling pools for alpacas to sit in if they so choose. This provides some amusing photography!
  • Dams – If you are lucky enough to have a dam on your place and can give the alpacas access to this then that’s wonderful. I will caution however that heavily pregnant girls might take in water through their back end causing infection. Best to keep the Mumma’s to be where they get hosed daily instead.
  • Less Fleece but not bare – Newly shorn alpacas have a certain vulnerability to them. They have just become exposed to the elements after having their fleece protecting them for about 12mths. Alpaca fleece is a great thermostat in keeping their skin cooler from the harsh sun and sunburn. A bit like us wearing a cotton long sleeve shirt and trousers when working outdoors. So up here in central Qld it’s a great idea to look at when your animals are having their coats off and make sure that its not in the middle of summer. Alpacas can get heat stroke too so having well-timed shearing e.g. September, will provide them with enough fleece growth to protect them in the heat.

I’m sure there are many other ideas as well that I haven’t explored yet, but these seem easy to do in amongst a very busy schedule (which doesn’t revolve around alpacas completely! Much to my dismay).  Alpacas are very resilient and cope with temperatures well but when we have them in a paddock with limited options to keep cool then it is up to us to give them a few more options.

All these ideas are things that I do for my own animals here where I live. I am in no way telling you that YOU MUST do these things. Just use your common sense when it comes to what you can and can’t offer.  These ideas will help keep you in touch with your animals, casting an eye over them and getting to know what its going on.

Thanks for your time

Your Passionate Paca Person

Michelle xoxo