Sue Loach – 26th November 2021

26 September 2021     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

What is a Stockmans eye?

Sue Loach – 26th November 2021

What is a Stockman’s Eye

When I started keeping Alpacas 16 years ago, having had horses for most of my life, I was under the assumption (wrongly) that being a farmer was going to be much easier than keeping horses.  I assumed (wrongly again!) that farmers were there to feed and water their animals, walk around their fields doing a quick check that their stock were ok and tend their land. How Easy was that going to be compared to the labour intensive hobby of horses?

Wrong again Sue !!

Actually farming any livestock including Alpacas (yes I know they aren’t classified as livestock) is pretty tricky and massively time consuming. Alpacas, by nature of what they are in the wild (prey animals), are so adept at hiding when they aren’t well that it becomes imperative to develop your “Stockman’s eye” as fast as you can.  So what is a “Stockman’s eye” ??








For me, it is that instinctive part of us that can just tell when something isn’t right. An animal just looks “off” maybe a bit tucked up in the loin, its fleece looks poor, it may have lost a bit of weight, the animal has that look in its eye and you know something is wrong.

Sometimes the signs are more to do with their behaviour, one of your least compliant animals suddenly becomes easy to handle, one animal is isolating itself, sitting down more regularly or your greediest animal suddenly isn’t coming to the trough as quickly as usual. All these, almost imperceptible, changes that only you, as someone who spends time with their animals, can see are your “Stockmans eye” and each and everyone of us should trust it especially now going in to winter, with the mild weather making parasites rife.

Watch your herd , spend 10 minutes a day just observing behaviour and using your Stockman’s eye, if things don’t seem right, then they probably aren’t, so many times I’ve called the vet to an animal and seen that look in their eyes that means they can’t see anything wrong, then when they get the bloods back it becomes all systems go!  Each and everyone of us should use that eye, it can and does save lives.