camelides make good partners
Looking for something to fill the void in your horse's life?
Looking for an animal that won't take the time, energy and expense of a new horse?
What about opening your home and heart to a camelid ? A WHAT?!
Llamas and alpacas are an herbivorous species known as Camelids. They are much easier to care for than horses:
They use community dung piles consisting of small poop pellets. The dung can be composted
They do not need the daily grooming or upkeep that is necessary with horses
Their feet are similar to that of a dog's with soft pads and toenails you can trim
Camelids eat orchard grass hay, graze in the pastures
They are supplemented with llama/special grain that can be found at any livestock store
What You Need To Know First
You do need to understand how to handle these unique animals. Yes, they do spit (mostly at each other) if they are not handled correctly. They don't really like to spit since it tastes bad, but they will if you treat them like another horse.
They need to be sheared once a year, in the spring. This is easily remedied by asking the farm you have purchased them from if you can bring your boys back on shearing day, or hand shear yourself.
The biggest difference between a camelid and a horse is that you just can't walk up to them in a pasture and halter them. You need to build the proper relationship. It is best to lead them into a 9'x9' catch pen and then approach them. Once you get past the differences you will come to see their similarities to the horse community and a special friendship will come with your new family member. Hopefully you will want to pack with your llamas or take walks with your alpacas; they are as curious as cats and love to go out once they trust you to lead them.
Make sure you are destined to be together.
You should be able to walk up to your respected males in a catch pen and quietly halter them. Take each male for a walk, see how he interacts with you and the other gelded males you may want.
How many camelids do I need? You can have two gelded llamas with your horse. If you still ride, your llamas will be OK alone while you are out on the trails. Alpacas require companionship, so you will want at least 3 gelded males together. Llamas are more independent because of their history as pack animals, where alpacas are raised for their fiber and need that sense of herd. If you decide to bring home alpacas, they will come to see your horse as their big brother or sister.
The average cost for a gelded male (both llamas and alpacas) falls between $500 and $2,000. Learn about camelids before going to your first farm! If you go to the farm without advance knowledge you will fall in love with the first boy you meet and could buy yourself one big handful.
Buy the book The Camelid Companion by Marty McGee Bennett, if you are ready to consider purchasing a Camelid. Bennett?s book clearly demonstrates how to build a relationship with your horse?s new pasture mate.
Any questions about working with camelids go to www.camelidynamics.com .
Taken the time to do it right, Camelids can be great companions for you and your horse. There are gelded males on many llama and alpaca farms who are in need of a loving home.
Karen Dombeck has been working with alpacas for 5 years. She is a handler/trainer, which means she does all the hands-on day-to-day caretaking work with the animals. Presently she manages more than 170 alpacas on a breeding farm that births approximately 60 crias (babies) a year. Karen holds the title of Apprentice Practitioner of Camelidynamics, which is a training style developed by Marty McGee Bennett. Camelidynamics foundation comes from TTouch, which was created by Linda Tellington-Jones. Karen can be reached at email@example.com