Thursday, March 21, 2013

Enemy Lines

Adding sheep to the farm has been an adjustment for the sheep and the alpacas.  I don't think the sheep have ever seen alpacas and I don't think our alpacas have ever seen sheep.

What I didn't expect was that days later the alpacas would still be scared of the sheep!

It took us days to get Miss Kitty even this close to the fence line of the sheep:

The sheep have no fear of being on their fence line closest to the alpacas.  They line up there frequently, watching the alpacas and saying "bahh".

So, the alpacas are scared and the sheep are not.  The ironic thing is that the alpacas could hurt the sheep, the sheep really couldn't do much to an alpacas.  Alpacas kick with a punch, they can spit, and run and stomp (and being they are taller than sheep they could stomp sheep).  Sheep don't do any of those things.  The kids and I laugh about a sheep trying to kick an alpaca.  It's not a fair match.

We've decided that what is actually going on is that sheep are pretty simple animals.  They live their day walking around together and go with the flow for the most part.  They "bahh" at the alpacas and don't even know to be scared of them.  The alpacas are so used to being vulnerable animals that they just assume the sheep are dangerous (and to their credit, how do they know the sheep aren't a pack of dogs?  From a distance they look a lot like Spot our farm dog.  And if they have never seen sheep, how could they know).  It appears the alpacas are smart enough to be scared but not smart enough to realize they don't need to be.

It's ok that the alpacas are leery of the sheep. I can understand it to a degree.  But what was a big issue is that it messed up feeding the alpacas.   My grain routine was completely put to a halt because Miss Kitty wouldn't go into her pen for grain time (it was too close to the sheep).  And even more concerning none of the alpacas would go into their shelter for water, it was too close to the fence line with the sheep.  If alpacas do not drink enough their digestive system can get impacted and that is awful for them (could lead to death).  Within a day of the sheep coming we noticed the water issue so I put out extra water buckets where the alpacas were hanging out.  But unfortunately winter returned and the only outlets for the heated buckets are in the shelter that the alpacas refuse to go near.  Then I had to bring out warm water to them frequently.  Alpacas will also eat snow for fluids, but that really isn't the answer.

So the kids and I decided it was time to get over this already.   We herded all the alpacas from that pasture area into the paddock on the fence line with the sheep.  The alpacas were not happy, but I was sure to bring them treats once we got them in there.  I don't know if this will solve the problem but the next morning I was able to get Miss Kitty in there to eat her grain:

You can see her watching them with suspect.  I have a feeling there will be more to this story.

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