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April 9th, 2004 . Managing Male Dominance Behavior


Llama Training
We are a new farm and have read much of your information and find it helpful in training our alpacas.  Thanks for the work you have done and the help you provide to the alpaca community!

We do have one issue though that we are not sure how to handle.  We have three juvenile males together and the 8 month old will occasionally mount the 5 month old.  I know this is normal “little boy” behavior, but we are concerned with the effects this type of play will have on his fleece.  He is entered in several shows this spring and we don’t want him all matted.  These three boys (other is a 13 month old who is small and submissive) play frequently in very normal ways, neck wrestling, chasing one another, etc.  They have plenty of room to run, and we are working with them frequently on lead in training for the obstacle classes, so I don’t think it is a confinement issue.  I guess they could just be bored when no one is out there and they have only each other to amuse themselves.

The other issue that concerns us in all this is whether the “mountee” will forever feel subordinate and therefore not make good herdsire material.  He is very nice conformationally at this young age, and his fleece is wonderful, so we don’t want to have him learn behavior that will cause difficulty later.  Ditto for the 8 month old, we don’t want to have him aggressively mounting all other male alpacas his whole life.  Is there anything we can do to stop this?  We don’t want to separate them now, because they will have to be together later and I don’t want to cause real fighting later.  They are friends now, and I want to keep it that way.  The behavior itself seems in the normal range, so it’s probably not really a huge problem, but I don’t want his fleece ruined.  You can already tell his rump is starting to mat a little. Any ideas?

Llama Training

I am glad that my work has been helpful to you with your alpacas. It is hard to watch animals work things out. Frequently if not always when young males are weaned one of them will emerge as the dominant animal and can make life miserable for one or another of the animals in the group. Leadership is stressful so don't assume that the top dog is having an easier time than the underlings! Bottom line you can't control the behavior of young males that live together unless you plan to relocate to the barn! Your choices are to allow them to establish their own order or to separate them into ever smaller groups when they begin to act out. In all likelihood when you take the aggressive one out of the mix another one will emerge to take his place. Maintaining a number of individual paddocks rapidly becomes a management issue and it is appropriate for males to live together. A wonderful way to avoid to solve this problem is to make a practice of weaning young males into a paddock with an older bigger confident no-nonsense gelding who will be the automatic leader of the group a gelding llama can also be a good herd leader. It is a wonderful role for gelding and I think is much better emotionally for the young males. An older gelding will maintain order and will be the leader so that one of the youngsters does not have to assume this role at such a tender age. Hope this helps.




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