Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

Like with most animal species, female alpacas tend to be more docile than the males. Although the females still have a pecking order and will spit at one another, the males, especially the breeding testosterone filled males can have aggressive and bloody battles. We have always just had one breeding male on our farm and young boys not old enough for breeding. When we put the young boys in with Smokey the breeding male, they tended to get along pretty well. The young boys have always been submissive and Smokey tends to leave them alone, but would give them the occasional nip or mounting to show them who's boss. We recently added another breeding male, USA Peruvian Sequoia to our herd which has been quite the learning experience for us. At first we had the males separated by a couple pastures so I don't think they were even aware of one another's existence. We put Sequoia in with our young boys (before they went to a new home) and they got along fine. Then a week or two after we got Sequoia, we started breeding and the two males suddenly became aware of their competition. While we would have the male and female in the catch pen to breed, the other male would pace the fence screaming, jumping, spitting and trying to escape, which completely distracts the breeding male from his duty because all he wants to do is fight his competition. Sequoia got so worked up during one breeding that he busted a whole row of panels down and escaped (luckily he didn't go far and we caught him). I was hoping we could have put the two males together in one pasture, but I just don't think that is going to happen. We decided to split one of our pastures into two, dividing it with a 6 foot fence instead of 5 foot and putting extra wooden fence posts in for reinforcement. We also divided the large stall in the new barn into two smaller stalls with a floor to ceiling panel separating the two smaller stalls. As a side note, I am so happy to finally be able to put stalls in the new barn because our boys have been left without shelters all spring and summer and I worried about them in the sun and thunderstorms. In the future, these boys will have to learn to get along with other males. There is no way we will be able to give every male a separate pen, plus there is plenty of room in each of these new pastures for a few boys. I have heard that the more males you have, the less aggressive they are with one another. Anyway, we moved the boys in next to one another a week and a half ago. I am very happy that we opted to go with the extra reinforced fence. They spent about a week running up and down the fence line next to one another screaming, screeching, spitting, kicking, biting, pummeling the fence, and jumping up on the fence. The first night we had them next to one another, I checked on them and found both of them with bloody faces. I was worried something happened as Sequoia still has his fighting teeth (sharp teeth in the back of the mouth) which we need to cut out. Noah checked both boys over and determined that Smokey probably bashed his face into part of the fence (that was also covered in blood) and split his lip. Then he proceeded to spit red blood all over Sequoia's white face. Smokey's cut wasn't too just looked a lot worse with with blood all over the place. For the first few days, I would run out to check on the boys because I could hear them screaming and was always afraid that one of them got their leg stuck in the fence and was dangling, but I would always rush out to find the boys covered in stinky green spit. I took some pictures of their nonsense last weekend.
Now that the weather has been in the 90's the last 3 days, their fighting behavior has been reduced to a minimum. They were fighting every half hour or so before and now it is down to a few scuffles a day. Because of the hot sun, the are both forced into the shade of the barn. We often see them laying side by side with only a panel dividing them in the barn. Once in awhile, one will screech a little bit, put his ears back and glare at the other one, but they don't get up. The hot weather has really seemed to calm them down some. On a positive note, Smokey had gotten pretty chunky after this past winter so hopefully all this exercise is slimming him down some.

1 comment:

cara said...

wow! now that is some fighting. We've had some blood here and there, but nothing significant. I wonder if part of it is because Smokey was alone for so long, and he liked being top male.