A couple of weeks ago, I spent a week doing some work experience at Simply Alpaca in Worcestershire. It was a really unique placement so I thought that I would do a quick roundup of everything I did because it was really interesting…
On my first day, I learnt about the basics of Camelid Dynamics. This is a method developed by Marty McGee Bennet and you can read more about it here, but essentially it is a safe, kind, respectful, efficient and fun way of handling and training the animals. Then, we moved onto herding the animals. Once we had herded the alpacas down onto the yard we could then move onto catching and haltering the alpacas. It took a while to get the hang of but once I had practised a couple of times on the very forgiving inflatable alpaca head, I was ready to try my new found knowledge out on the actual alpacas. It took a while, but eventually, I was catching and haltering them (on my first day of working with them!)… As it was so hot, I spent some time hosing down the alpacas and they loved playing in the water!
Our main task for Wednesday morning was to vaccinate the herd against clostridial diseases. Some of the alpacas really weren’t that keen on having their injections but they all got done nonetheless, even little Billy who was only a couple days old! Once the injections were all finished, we updated all of the husbandry records for the year with the details of the date and the vaccination they had been given. That afternoon we started to work with Monty and Rosie, the two newest additions to the herd who were still in a quarantine period after their move. They took to the handling really well and were being walked around, surveying their surroundings in no time.
Thursday’s task was to shear Monty and Rosie. The rest of the alpacas had been shorn in the weeks before I was there, but these two were yet to be shorn. Having only seen sheep shearing previously, it was quite a different experience but the fibres and colours of the alpaca fleece are really amazing and I enjoyed being a part the process. On Thursday afternoon we collected some faecal samples from the field and I had a go at doing a faecal worm egg count on them. The slide preparation technique was quite different to any I had done before but I really enjoyed it, it was really interesting.
Friday was my last day so we started the day off with a walk to Oversley Woods. You get some really strange looks when you are walking three llamas and an alpaca through the woods (along with three spaniels and a lab)! The walk was a really different experience and I would definitely recommend it if you ever get the chance! The afternoon was spent at a school fete with a couple of alpacas, the kids absolutely loved having them at their fete and the alpacas were very well behaved.
Massive thank you to Victoria, Roger and Tilly for having me for the week. I really enjoyed my time and I learnt so much!
If you want to find out more about Simply Alpaca or Camelid Dynamics you can visit: http://simplyalpaca.co.uk/