This morning at the barn, I heard a commotion. I turned to see Cover Girl vigorously trying to extricate herself from between a rock and a hard place. She had her head under the panel bar and into the next pen. She must have scooted closer to the other stall while relaxing (or trying to eat her neighbors' food. The grass is always greener over there ya know...) because her body was all the way up to the edge of her pen. And her head was under and her whole neck was in the neighboring pen. Hmm. This is not terribly unusual. They usually figure it out and get where they want to go. So I didn't worry too much, especially when she started happily eating out of a feed dish that had been knocked to the ground in the neighbor's pen. After I finished the chore I was doing, I came over and helped her get her head and neck back into her own pen, the one that had her body in it.
That's when I got scared. I sent the rest of her group outside so that I could clean their stall and feed them. Alpacas have such a strong herd instinct that if you send the rest of the group outside, it is rare that one alpaca will stay inside. For the neurotically herd oriented alpacas, it's all about hanging with your buddies, kinda like it is for preteen humans. When Cover Girl did not get up to go outside, I went over and gave her a little nudge. Nothing. I nudged harder, the kind of nudge that almost always gets them up and bolting away from you. Her legs trembled and she appeared unable (unwilling?) to get up. Oh dear. I walked to my office with thoughts of heat stress, (heat stress in September? oh yes, it is usually the result of the cumulative effect of heat rather than one incident so August and September are probably the worst months for it) polio, neurologic diseases, and wondering if my vet was on call this Sunday. I was planning injections, thermometers to nether regions, and my next diagnostic steps. My concern was made worse by the fact that Cover Girl is due in about 60 days. Bred to Magnum, she's carrying possibly the best cria of the year in her belly. Fortunately, I turned to see Cover Girl standing there, in the stall...eating hay.
My thought now is that she had probably been stuck with her head under the panel bar for a long enough time for her to have panicked over it. I think she got herself worked up, and when she first tried to rise, her body was still so close to the other stall that she couldn't really get up the right way. Anyway, WHEW! She is fine and dandy. She seemed content to stay in the stall alone so when I fed her group she got to go around and eat from several of the feed buckets. She drank from all the water buckets, too. It was like Goldilocks trying out all of the bears' porridge. But Cover Girl was happy when her friends came in to eat. They had been peering over the double dutch door watching her and wondering what she was doing, and why she had gotten to eat before they did.
We have horse sized panels in the barn, and we put temporary fencing on the ones that have babies in them so that they don't slide under away from their moms. Cover Girl is in a group without the temporary fencing so she was able to scoot a little too far next door. We like the Priefert horse panels because they are strong, nice for when we had males and females housed in the same barn. This week I will post on the "Magnum" panels which are our new favorites. They hold males AND keep crias and alpacas inside.