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November 20, 2006  Suggestions for Cria Handling


Alpaca Training

I've been reading your book and can't wait to go to a seminar! We are very new to the Alpaca world and have a mother and female cria.  They both seem to have a very strong spirited personality and I really don't want my little cria to get any worse.

We have only handled her about 4 times since she was born and every time we touch her she gets very upset; she cries and cries.  We tried haltering the mother and then touching her, but the result was the same.  We also had to shear her on the ground...and that was just horrible for her I'm sure.

I am agisting the two girls right now, and the farm we're at really doesn't have a catch pen at all.  There are a lot of other animals there, and the barn is separated into 3 sections...males/females and a walkway that's a large square with the main opening.  I can close both doors with the female section, but it's pretty large and there will be a lot of animals in there.

I'd really love her to be happy around people and would love to show her.  Any help would be wonderful!

Alpaca Training

Welcome to the wonderful world of camelids!  There are very few absolutes in the work that I do and teach but one of them is that you MUST have a catch pen.  I would suggest that you buy some light-weight panels and store them at the farm where you are agisting.  The owners may very well love having them so much that they may end up using them too, but if not, there must certainly be a place that you could put them in between visits.  Then you can set up a proper catch pen in the small area that you described and use this pen to work with your animals. 

The entire premise of the work that I do is that the animals are not physically restrained.  The only way to work with alpacas and not corner or restrain them is to work in a catch pen.   Once you get one you will NEVER go back.  A catch pen IS the secret to working in a way that allows your alpaca to move around but not move entirely away.

If you are not allowed to bring a catch pen to the place where you agist your animals, I would look for a new place or just wait to work with your animals until you have them at your own facility.

There is an article about facilities on my website that would be  useful to have a look at you can read this article by going to  

I hate to seem so dogmatic but truly a catch pen is the most important thing to have when working with your alpacas.  I would put my energy into working on getting one and wait until you have this problem solved before doing much work with your new baby.

Happy Handling,




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