Alpacas must be transported using suitable and appropriate vehicles.
|Loading and unloading animals onto transporters||3|
NLIS has not yet put regulations in place for the movement of alpacas throughout the country however the need for identification, tracking and regulating movement has been identified and draft rules have been published.
Alpacas used in schools will often need to be transported to shows and to other properties. It is important to understand the risks involved in transporting alpacas and to be aware of aspects of transportation that may cause stress to the animals so that measures can be taken to make transport as pleasant and safe as possible.
Alpacas are generally cooperative travellers however this does not mean that they do not find the process stressful. Consideration and planning should be given to the following:
- Emergency situations.
Alpacas readily suffer heat stress and so precautions need to be taken to ensure that alpacas do not become too hot during transport. Ensuring that there is sufficient space for each alpaca and having a well ventilated trailer or truck will reduce the risk of heat stress. Alpacas should not be transported in exceptionally hot conditions unless absolutely necessary.
In cold conditions, ventilation may need to be restricted to prevent animals from becoming too cold due to wind chill factor. Animals will readily produce body heat, which will aid in keeping them warm and so cold conditions usually do not present a problem for alpacas. On long trips it is important to have water and feed available for the alpacas. Water will aid in preventing heat stress and dehydration and food may aid in producing heat through metabolising food.
It is a good idea to carry some extra water when transporting animals in case animals appear to be over heating or in case of unforseen circumstances where alpacas are in transit for longer than planned.
The longer the trip, the more space each alpaca will need. This prevents them from squashing each other, trampling, faeces contamination and overheating from a build up of body heat.
It is also important to avoid transporting animals together that have had a history of fighting or dislike for one another. This can cause extra stress on the animals.
It is essential when transporting any animal to have an emergency plan and be prepared. There should always be enough correctly fitted halters for each animal being transported and a first aid kit should also be carried containing saline solution, pressure bandages, swabbing and antiseptic.
Loading and unloading
Vehicles suitable for the safe transport of alpacas should have the following safety features:
- The interior and the doorway of trailer should be high enough to prevent head injury
- The floor should be covered with non slip rubber
- There should be no gaps in the floor, lower wall or loading ramps where alpacas can catch their feet and legs
- Gaps between the tailgate ramp and trailer floor should be covered.
- There should be adequate ventilation.
If an alpaca has not been trained to load or refuses to walk onto the vehicle, it may be necessary to lift the alpaca in. This requires 2 people on each side of the alpaca to reach under the abdomen and grasp hands around the animal’s chest. The alpaca can then be lifted off the ground into the vehicle. Most animals will accept being lifted for a few seconds, long enough to lift them into the vehicle.
When unloading, it is important to do this in a controlled manner to prevent injury. Alpacas should be walked out slowly and controlled to ensure they do not fall and have time to be aware of any step-downs.
Training the alpacas to load and familiarising them with the trailer or vehicle is best performed when there is plenty of time to perform the task in a patient and calm manner. This will increase the alpaca’s willingness to load and prevent stress on the day of the show. It is also important to have animals trained to load in case of emergency. Evacuating animals is much easier, safer and quicker, in the case of fire, flood or other emergency, if they are previously trained and willingly load onto a vehicle.
Transporting during early pregnancy usually does not incur problems however it is strongly advised to avoid transporting alpacas in the third trimester. It is very common for alpacas in late pregnancy to abort during transportation or within the week after arriving at the new destination.
Hence alpacas in their third trimester of pregnancy should only be transported in case of emergency. It is best to wait until the cria is born and a few weeks old and then to transport the pair.
It is important to have good knowledge of the disease status of any animals prior to bringing them onto the school farm. This may involve vaccinations, parasite control and even blood tests where applicable. Advice from the local veterinarian or livestock officer should be sought.
It is a good idea to quarantine new alpacas from existing alpacas for a period of time. This should allow time for observation of any signs of illness or parasite infestations.