Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ABS Alpaca Status

I haven't posted any progress about our Berserk Male in quite some time.  Mostly because there hasn't been much to report.

Yes, we reached the point to where I could feed and muck around this alpaca by myself.  I continued to be able to do this work.  However, we had not made any progress with handling.

He would pace and jump on the fence whenever we handled the other alpacas. Then when he couldn't get to the alpaca on the lead, he would attack his corral mates.  He injured our other gelding.

If I was in the pasture without my husband, he would pace and rear up against the fence.  His eyes fixated on me until I would raise my arms and yell loudly.  At which point he would stop and turn away, but maintain an aggressive stance.

He was always better behaved when my husband was around.  Finally, when our neighbor came for a visit with his young son, the alpaca was very aggressive toward the boy.

So my husband and I now agreed that the alpaca was dangerous.  We believed it was only a matter of time before he tried to hurt me again or someone else.  This was our first time euthanizing an animal that wasn't old or sick.

The reason I share this information is to help raise awareness.  Yes, Aberrant Behavior Syndrome is rare, but please learn the signs and stop the behavior before it starts.  It's always easier to prevent than repair.

An alpaca should be interested in people but only for a short period of time and from a distance. They should be more interested in their herd mates. If they hang around you too much, or enter your space without being invited, their behavior needs to be corrected. Swiftly. What is cute at 30 pounds is dangerous at 200 pounds.

At the beginning of this process I did not know what the lesson was. Today, I would say how important it is to remember that alpacas are livestock and not pets. They must be treated as such, especially when they are so darn cute as cria.

Aside from this one male, we have found alpacas to be very easy to care for. They are easy to train, handle and shear.  They are entertaining to watch and produce wondrous fiber that makes beautiful, soft yarn.
Since carrying out our decision, the mood on the ranch is calm and peaceful.  I have been able to catch, handle and lead all of our alpacas without incident.

Here are some resources to learn more about Aberrant Behavior Syndrome aka Berserk Male Syndrome aka Novice Handler Syndrome:

Cathy Spalding
John Mallon
Marty McGee Bennett


Bet the Farm said...

I am so sorry to hear that you had to go through this. Though, this is probabily the kindest (and safest) thing you could do. I am always troubled when I see overly handled animals that start to display this behavior. It is a fine line.

WonderWhyGal said...

Thank you for sharing. It's a hard decision to make and you and your husband did everything you could for this male. I hope others will read this like I am and take knowledge from your experience. It's one thing to read it in a text book but it's totally different to live it.

Kathryn Ray said...

@BettheFarm - yes, absolutely. It is a fine line. You want the animal to be interested and easy to catch and handle, but not so interested that they think they're in control.

@WonderWhyGal - thank you so much for your support thoughout this process. I can't tell you what it means to me.

Pepperina Girl said...

I know of a breeder who makes it normal practise to sell bottle fed cria. A disaster waiting to happen! You made the best decision in the circumstances.

Did you ever find out if he had been bottle fed or over handled as a cria? Do you know what age he start displaying the different behaviour?

Kathryn Ray said...

@Pepperina Girl - I don't believe he was bottle-fed. His dam was onsite and nursing her current cria.

I think he was one of the first crias the farm had and they just handled him too much without realizing what could happen.

cara said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. What a tough situation. Having had to put down an aggressive dog, I completely relate to the difficulty of it, but knowing it had to be done. It is a good reminder, as cria season comes upon us, to enjoy the cria, but not too much.