Friday, 28 September 2012

Big Day

This post is not for those of a delicate disposition

Its been a big day for the boys.  I told them repeatedly it was going to be a big day over the past few weeks but they didn't seem to care.  'Yeah yeah, whatever, where is the hay?'

Having thought it through we have decided to go ahead with castration.  We debated this in late spring (see past blog) and had decided not to, but we have changed our minds.

Why ?
  • Shirley from Tigh Mhor made some useful comments that made us think about the longer term
  • This year's fleece is not as good as last and fleece is important to us.
  • Probably the deciding thing was that Finian has begun to challenge us a little and is increasingly dominant with Noah.  Just last night I was giving him a bit of a hug because I knew what was coming, and there was a bit of a stand off. 
We think that castration will help settle him down a little and may help us if we decide to introduce any new additions to the herd.  I am a little skeptical, I think they may be more or less the same after the event, but with sore bits for a while. Lets see.

So.  Its was a day off work and out bright and early with the pressure washer again, to change the shed into a field hospital. This involved pressure washing and disinfecting with something pink and DEFRA certified to kill all germs dead for a couple of days (Same stuff you use in foot baths for foot and mouth according to the label).

Then an agonising wait for the appointed time.  Neither Bev nor I could settle down to anything.  I busied myself trying to fix my power-line gadget thingy, fetched some logs, scraped the tile adhesive off some tiles that must have been on there for 10 years, pottered in the garage, checked on the progress of the poo-log I made last week-end (still soggy), fiddled with my phone etc. etc.  Nothing got done right, nothing really distracted me.

Chris the vet turned up at the appointed time with his usual cheer.  The boys ran to the shed with their usual thoughts of some grub or other interesting thing.  Then it was down to work.

One at a time they were brought forward into the OR (shed) from the pre-op room (yard).  Fin was chosen to go first, we wanted to get him done as he is apt to enjoy snuffling your ear or tugging on your collar if you are bent over one of the other boys.  Mildly annoying if you are doing something routine, but not what you want when doing something more delicate. Kenzie was going to go next because he would stress if left to last, Noah would bring up the rear (as it were).

Chris is a member of the BVCS and his experience shows. The epitome of  a calm, organized professional.  He soon got down to work.  Setting out his implements, drugs, potions, gloves etc in the 'human side' making great use of Bev's archery target as a useful shelf.  Then to business proper.

Step 1 - Ask the right questions about general health and assess the animals in a calm conversational manor with subtle hands on before you begin. (Boys professionally certified as Fat!)

Step 2 - Brief the daft folk about what is going to happen - Remember the animals history and have a stab at their names (top class account management skills, in a shed!).  Include clear details of what is going to happen, in what order (more Agile than prince-2)

Step 3 - Ask if it is OK to shave a small patch of fleece - assure owner that it will grow back (I guess this one is from experience - but for goodness sake would someone really object?)

Step 4 - Bring in the boy!

Step 5 - Andy to the left, using the usual head cuddle / hand on back restraint.  Bev to the rear right.

Step 6 - Sedative into right Jugular.  Just a few seconds and you can feel the Alpaca begin to relax in your arms.

Step 7 - Pain relief SC into shoulder.  Long acting anti-biotic IM rear flank.

Step 8 - By this time the legs were getting a bit wobbly (the Alpacas, not mine) and were soon on the ground cushed, then on their sides.

Noah, even more out of it than usual  - He was the most floppy.

 Step 9 - Local anesthetic to the target area

A bit of local

Step 9 - Not exactly sure about the detail of these next steps.  I was at the front with a relaxed, but clearly aware Alpaca in my arms.  I know it involved a sterile sheet, a scalpel, a clamp, some suture, There are some pictures below.

Half way !

Two is a pair

A close-up if you are interested
Step 10 - Chis leaves the 1" incision open to allow drainage but puts in a single cross stitch to hold things together.

Step 11 - A spray of blue spray and we are done.  It was amazing how quickly they boys recovered and got on their feet.  We thought we would have to lift Fin into the corner and commence operations with Kenzie, but he soon got himself together and decided he wanted to be outside in the yard.   The picture below shows Fin and Kenzie while Noah was getting done.  Alert and back to themselves minutes after they were having the most horrendous things done to them.
Fin watching Noah 

All over in just around and hour. The worst part was the waiting for the vet!

The behavior of Alpacas is the most fascinating thing about them.  The boys watched their mates with concern during the procedure and looked out for each other after the event.  The best example was when Noah came out.  He was unsteady on his feet and Fin moved close to support him and let him rest his head on Fins neck until he was steady.

The boys are locked in the shed /yard tonight, for the first time ever. We wanted them bedding down in the dry and where we had disinfected.  We hung around for a couple of hours to make sure the sedative had worked out of their system before leaving them.  Hourly checks thereafter to dark.  As the pain relief wears off they are obviously not 'comfortable' and there is more mutual humming going on, this is usually just Noah but nothing too serious.  I'll set them free in the morning.


  1. Thank you so very much for sharing this - it was very interesting, and I am glad it went well. I hope the boys will feel ok soon :)

  2. I hope that you didn't waste them. I would suggest pan fried with a little masala and served on toast!

    Joking of course. Glad it went well. Kenzie's is looking so handsome.

    1. The thought didn't cross my mind (much), trimmed and rolled in a few bread crumbs. But alas the local was applied too close for this to be safe and I would have had to administer a sedative to Bev ! Kenzie is a stunner, its a shame to have had him chopped. He has really started to come out of himself recently.

  3. We had our difficult boy castrated because he came to us at 4 years old and was a bit of a monster! It took a little while to take effect...and he's certainly not a pussy cat, but he's much easier to work with now. Getting to check his operation area was difficult until I went out with a brightly coloured chullo hat...he postured, tail up etc...just a perfect way to check all was healing nicely! I'll lend you the hat if your boys prefer you not to keep checking their bits!!

  4. Hope the boys are all ok, Hughie didn't seem to notice he lost his!

    It just goes to show how different alpacas are, castration made no difference what so ever and he still thinks he's the boss dspite being the only castrate in the field!

    PS The bricks take weeks to dry.

  5. We remember all the build up and anxiety before the big day too. We're sure your boys will be fine after walking on tip-toes for the first 24 hours! And don't worry - they will forgive you! Good luck. Shirley & Robbie

  6. That's a great tip about the hat! and Debbies comment about bricks in the same reply as castration reminded me of the joke about castration, where the punchline to the question, "doesn't it hurt?", is, "only if you get your thumbs between the bricks"!

  7. abbotts view alpacas3 October 2012 at 00:05

    This has been a really interesting read as we are debating whether to have ten of our boys done this month. We keep females on our farm and though there is a fair distance between them the boys know they are there!! We have 6 x 2- year olds and some of them really fight! Then another 4 who are all coming up to two who are lovely calm boys and i would like to keep them that way. Have heard so many mixed opinions and we're new this year so learning all the time. Will be interested to hear how your boys get on now the deed's done!