Handler Helper and Breeding males why we use them?
One of the first steps we learned from our Camelidynamics lead training process is clipping a rope around the crias neck to get them used to being attached to something and having a human on the other end. Please don’t be concerned the rope has a 2 ring adjustment that allows the rope to stay at a set loop size and will not tighten around the neck. We do not start with putting the halter on, this comes later.
With the rope attached high on the neck we begin sending signals through the rope which will teach the alpaca when to walk and when to stop. With the rope attached we also begin the head work, this helps get the alpaca ready for haltering, showing teeth, walking etc..
Using the rope around neck to first teach them to walk on a lead, sets up some nice handling techniques for the future which will save time and also keep you and your alpacas safe, let me explain.
One benefit of this rope training is time savings. On our farm we have many active breeding males, and although we started practicing field breeding in 2014 we still accomplish a majority of these breedings (1-14 per day) through “hand” breeding. (yes. sometimes we have to help things along with our hand, a sticky situation). But what this means in breeding terms is that the male is introduced to the female in a controlled setting, normally a small pen. The breeding results are documented and everyone goes back to their respective pens. Not a very natural situation but this process gains we humans control over the breeding and also allows for a precise expected delivery date. Most people like this so they know exactly when to be on the lookout for labor to begin.
In this breeding process the time savings come by not having to halter the male (or female) to get them to the breeding pen, we simply show up at the male barn in the morning, show the males we need the red handler helper and they know exactly what is going to happen and they are very happy to comply. They freely walk into the catch pen, allow me to put on the handler helper and I load them on the trailer and off we go to the female barn.
Another benefit is safety! When we arrive with the male to the breeding pen I introduce him into the female pen releasing and leaving the handler helper attached. He can now freely attend to his business. I don’t have to enter the pen trying to get the lead rope detached from the halter while he is hyper excited to go after the female. Same in reverse, I don’t have to go in the pen and try to catch the male and get the lead rope attached to the halter. I can imagine this is quite exciting for some breeders but I prefer to keep things as calm as possible. I simple go in the pen and grab the end of the handler helper and I take back control of the situation and remove the male.
One critical tip is to keep the handler as high on the neck as possible to maximize your leverage, if not the alpaca will maximize the leverage over you and drag you along.
If you have question please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional handling information can be found at CAMELIDynamics.com