have a two-year-old male alpaca who has suddenly started going
after one of my geldings. I understand that his hormones might be
raging right now but why a gelding?!
My males are generally a sweet, docile group. There hasn't been
any breeding going on and this guy has not bred yet. The only
thing that has changed recently is that they've all been
The gelding is a suri and had a big, two year fleece so looks
quite different now. I gave the fighter a time-out for a couple of
days and I've moved them all away from the girls but when I tried
to return him to the group this morning he immediately started up
He still has his fighting teeth so I'm hesitant to just let them
fight but I REALLY don't want to have to create another group. If
I decide to geld him I won't be able to do it until later this
summer or fall. Any ideas?
I think you are probably on target that the shearing has something
to do with it. I don't know if it is so much the change in
the appearance of the suri....I think all the boys feel better,
have more energy and feel more like mixing it up with all that
fleece off! In my experience males often pick on geldings so
that part doesn't surprise me.
I think it is a good idea to move the boys away from the girls but
the "time out" is probably not going to help. When
you take an animal away from a group and then return that same
animal even an hour later he or she almost always has to submit to
a thorough inspection and re-establish his or her place in the
herd. When and if you put this male back in with the group
you should expect some fighting as he reminds the others of his
place in the group. Taking him in and out repeatedly is only
going to" keep the kettle boiling" so to speak.
In any case, all adult males (over 2-3 years of age) should have
their fighting teeth removed. The ideal time to remove them
is when you geld. However, since you haven't decided for sure yet
to geld this male, removing the teeth is not a huge procedure.
You could have the veterinarian come out, lightly sedate the whole
group of boys check and remove all the teeth that present a danger
and then put them all in together again. If you
haven't checked the teeth yourself, do that first, depending on
the ages you may not even have a problem with the teeth quite yet
I do have a few considerations to make the process of
reintroducing the group easier:
- Is the space large enough? Keeping too many animals in
too small a space can amp up the tension and the fighting.
- How many feed/shade and watering areas do you have?
Perhaps as important as the size of the enclosure is how it
is configured. Alpacas shouldn't have to compete for limited
resources or the animals lowest in the peck order will suffer.
Make sure that you have enough shade, watering stations and
hay/grain feeders so that the animals can all partake of these
things at the same time.
I have heard the rule of thumb 12 inches of space at a hay feeder
for each animal. I think this is a huge underestimation.
A single alpaca can protect three feet of feeder space.
All alpacas should be able to eat in peace. A single
door to the only shady place can be guarded by one bully. A
barn overhang or pop up shader from a discount department store
might solve this problem. Multiple vitamin/mineral stations and
waterers are also a good idea.
Once you put the boys back together (the cool of the evening is
best) keep an eye on them but expect fireworks. You
must always use your own best judgment of course but if you can
stand the noise, there is no bloodletting and none of the males
are significantly smaller than the others it might be best to let
them work it out.
~ Marty McGee Bennett