Thursday, June 7, 2012

Transporting Alpacas

Transporting Alpacas
Transporting alpacas is surprisingly easy.  You do not necessarily need a fancy trailer.  They can be put in trucks, cars, vans and horse trailers if you have one available.  We’ve put several in the back seat of my Honda on occasion and go cruising down the road.
Alpacas need to feel secure.  Never, ever tie them up, or they can easy break their necks.  We usually do not even leave the halters on to ensure they do not get caught on something.
When traveling in a trailer, we provide a bed of hay for our alpacas to travel in. It is a comfortable place to sit, something to eat en route, and also a good distraction to get their attention and keep them in once loaded.  Keep the water covered with a lid until you stop for gas or to eat.  Most will not drink during the trip.
Alpacas are placid travelers, usually sitting down once the vehicle starts moving, and when the motion stops, they stand up to look around. Unlike horses, which stand to travel and are tied with a lead on their halter, do not tie alpacas for travel. Males should be separated from females during travel.
Commercial horse transporters also carry alpacas.  There are a variety of “buses” as we call them that go up and down the U.S. picking up and dropping off alpacas. With separate sections, they have A/C, food, water and lower windows for the alpacas to look out of.   Usually the ride is no more than 10 days and costs range from $350-$500 per alpaca.  Each carrier has its own health requirements and requires microchips in each alpaca.  They pull into the driveway, load up the crew and head out.
If you have a topper on your truck, you can put up to 6 alpacas in the back.  The gap between the tailgate and the bed is leg-breaking territory for an alpaca, so use a mat or strip of carpet to cover it, or a piece of hose or a broom handle in the gap.  We put 8”-10” of hat and straw for them to lie in.  Once the vehicle begins to move, they usually lay down.
If putting them in a car or minivan, lay down a tarp to minimum any messes you may need to clean up.
Loading Alpacas
It is a good idea to introduce alpacas gradually to transportation. When we halter-train our youngsters we get them used to going in and out of our horse trailer.  If you are using a trailer with a ramp, then you may need to put sides on the ramp, with portable gates or temporary fences to channel the alpacas in. That way you can tempt them with food in the trailer, and push from behind if necessary!
Alpacas can jump in and out of vans, but a ramp is preferable. It is wise to have sides on the ramp when off-loading alpacas as well, to prevent them jumping off the sides of the ramp. If you don't have any structures on either side, then get a person to stand on either side of the ramp. If you are by yourself, park close to a fence on one side, and lead the alpaca from the other side.
Some will try to jump right over the ramp, so it is better to off-load onto grass or earth than concrete. As they jump, they push off on the vehicle surface, so ensure that it is not slippery. Some use old carpet their van.
When loading / unloading into the back of a truck, back up to a hill or ramp.  This will allow them to walk in or out on their own rather than needing to pick them up.
Health considerations
Check out your alpaca’s health before travelling them.  Also, see what the requirements are for your destination. All inoculations should be up-to-date.  Ensure that your alpacas meet any requirements for Tb status before they travel.  Most times you will need health papers from your vet.
Our cushioning hay is both bedding and food. For long distances we provide a water bowl. A dog water bowl, which attaches with hooks to the side of the vehicle works well, as a bucket can get knocked over.
If you are travelling a dam with a cria, it needs as much space as an adult so the cria does not get squashe. Stop every four hours for them to stand and drink from the mother. Before we put alpacas in their transport vehicle, we give them access to a manure pile.  Generally they will then not need to toilet for a few hours. As long as we keep moving, they stay sitting. Once we stop they stand up, and that is when they tend to go to the bathroom.