Gradual training of alpacas to the confinement of metabolism pens reduces stress when normal excretion behavior is accommodated

ILAR J. 2012;53(1):E22-30. doi: 10.1093/ilar.53.1.22.


Confinement in metabolism pens may provoke a stress response in alpacas that will reduce the welfare of the animal and jeopardize the validity of scientific results obtained in such pens. In this study, we tested a protocol designed to successfully train alpacas to be held in a specially designed metabolism pen so that the animals' confinement would not jeopardize their welfare. We hypothesized that the alpacas would show fewer behaviors associated with a response to stress as training gradually progressed, and that they would adapt to being in the confinement of the metabolism pen. The training protocol was successful at introducing alpacas to the metabolism pens, and it did reduce the incidence of behavioral responses to stress as the training progressed. The success of the training protocol may be attributed to the progressive nature of the training, the tailoring of the protocol to suit alpacas, and the use of positive reinforcement. This study demonstrated that both animal welfare and the validity of the scientific outcomes could be maximized by the gradual training of experimental animals, thereby minimizing the stress imposed on the animals during experimental procedures.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Camelids, New World / psychology*
  • Housing, Animal*