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March 1st, 2004 . Undoing the Damage of Poor Treatment


Llama Training
I had one of my females come home after being away for three months being bred. She "was" a feisty, attitudinal Accoyo.  She came back 30 lbs. less than when she left, and also had some kind of a wound on her back which we have finally gotten cleared up after more than a month of treatment. Not to mention, she had mites and tapeworms!  This poor girl has been through heck and to top it off, I think the breeder tried to "break" her of her attitude.  (I've seen the breeder in the ring with her animals and they are trained to a "T"!)

This girl would kick if you touched her rear, and spitting wasn't something she was shy to attempt.  She was born and raised on the farm where I purchased her.  While she wasn't the friendliest alpaca, she was never mistreated there, they accepted her personality as it was.

Now, when you try to get a hold of her, she sticks her head through the corral panel as if to get away.  She also has a look in her eyes she's never had before, she is terrified!  I've had her back home now for a few days.

She'd been at the farm where I'd bought her for treatment of all her problems.  When the previous owner came over to see her, she couldn't believe it was the same animal!

My question (after my long winded venting!!) is....what can I do to help her become less afraid and more trusting?  She is in with two other females (also purchased from the same farm) that she grew up
with and all of their crias.

The breeding farm also had a female in their care die the day before my girls (they actually had two of my animals and the second one came home with an abscess on her jaw), just before thanksgiving.

The explanation was that the female that died was injured fighting with another female.  I feel that my girls were in the same enclosure and had to fight for their very existence.

You would never know this from talking to the breeder or seeing the farm.  I am furious and while I know there is nothing I can do except nor recommend their services, I am hopeful you can help me help my girl get back to being her old feisty self!

Llama Training

I am so sorry you had such a terrible experience. Before I answer your specific question I want to take this opportunity to advise others how they can avoid this scenario:

Sending your alpaca into the care of another farm or ranch is an important decision and one that should be driven not just by how much you want the services of the male but how your animals will be cared for. Sending a maiden female or one without a cria at foot is less risky than sending off a new mother. I think new mothers should be rebred at home or sent to a stud close-by. Long trailer rides, settling in at a new place only to be relocated in a few months are all very hard on a new baby as well as the mom.

I understand that there are studs in distant places that are appealing... go for it... but know that there are real risks involved. If something goes wrong you must take responsibility for taking the risk and not just blame the breeder.

In any case, before I sent my female off to be bred ideally I would visit the ranch myself so I know how the animals are housed and cared for. If this is not practical then at the very least ,I would track down people that have bred animals to this stud and call and chat with them. Asking for references is a good idea but any breeder is going to provide you with references from happy customers - you might do better investigating on your own.

As far as getting her back to normal... it sounds like she was not easy to begin with and difficult animals often bring grief into their lives because they are not very adaptable. Her basic personality is probably why her experience being sent out for breeding was extra difficult for her. Don't get me wrong, it sounds as if the breeding farm has some responsibility for her bad experience but when selecting which animals are candidates for outside breeding, basic personality might be a good factor to consider along with conformation, finances, etc.

I hate to use platitudes, but time will help. Once you have her back on her home ground she will settle in and return to her more normal self although this could take quite awhile. Difficult animals, like the one you describe, are slower to trust and slower to forgive than more easy going animals. I would suggest reading the article on my website "Retraining the Problem Import" for specific ideas about things to do with her to help her regain her trust more completely and more quickly. Even though this was an outside breeding and not an importation, the experience as you describe it is would be very similar... new locations, lots of different handlers and routines, lots of animals, crowding and competition. This article has suggestions and techniques with photos and more detail than is possible here.

I am sure she will return to her old self maybe better.

~ Marty McGee Bennett



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