Castrating an older llama

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Castrating an older llama

Post  CateM on Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:30 pm

I have a breeding pair of 9 year old llamas who have a month old cria and who unfortunately mated immediately after the birth of the cria, so I expect there will be a fourth next winter. I cannot keep more than four llamas and am not keen to break up the family as they have been together so long and are very closely bonded. I took the adults on in March as an acquaintance was becoming overrun with llamas. They hadn't been handled for six years. I have gradually been handling them a little but although I can move them around the farm with buckets they will not yet stand still for me without food. I really want to have the male castrated before I too become overrun with llamas and he also needs his teeth filed and toenails trimmed. Is it ok to have an older male castrated or will it harm him? I would be very grateful for any advice.
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CateM

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Re: Castrating an older llama

Post  Tim Crowfoot on Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:19 am

Hi Cate

There should be no problem castrating a male of this age. Your vet will do a neat job after knocking out the llama. If he does not have much experience with camelids then he can consult BVCS (British Veterinary Camelids Society) who have a website.

After castration your male may be a bit calmer as well.

If you want to improve the handling then it is worth making a catch pen. This should be a sturdy pen about 10ft square. with a gate of course. We make ours as a kind of airlock by the gate into the field. The llamas can be enticed into the pen by food pail as you do now. There are several good books on basic training. One such is Camelidynamics by Marty McGee. There is a website and a UK representative, Julie Taylor Brown who runs training courses. Other methods of training are click and reward and the various horse whisperer methods. The more you are able to train and handle your llamas the more fun you can have with them and they with you.

Enjoy your llamas!

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Castration or vasectomy?

Post  CateM on Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:22 pm

Hello Tim,

Thanks so much for your reply. I have spoken to my vet, who said that the shock of the operation might be too much for the llama because it's not recommended for bulls, but I thought I'd heard of other people having older llamas 'done'. He hasn't had much experience with llamas and I imagine they could be quite different to bulls. I don't know whether it's just as easy to perform a vasectomy - do you know anything about that?

I'm hoping that I might persuade one of the vet practice to register with the BCVS while there is a special offer on. We had a local specialist, but she has retired now.

I had a catch pen but it blew down! Am planning to get a new one sorted out.

Thanks again.

Cate
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Re: Castrating an older llama

Post  Tim Crowfoot on Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:28 pm

I think your vet is being a bit cautious. One of their worries is giving the right amount of anaesthetic. If in doubt he should consult another BVCS vet, better still join himself - you can recommend him to Jane Brown who will pass the name etc on to BVCS. British Camelids will pick up the first years fees (20). The offer is good until the end of March I think.

Good luck

Tim

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Castration achieved

Post  CateM on Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:07 pm

I thought I'd post my experience here, in case it's helpful to anyone else who has an untrained llama who needs to be castrated.
I've spent the last couple of months preparing for nine-year-old Fernando, whom I rehomed last year, to be castrated. This involved mainly shutting him in a shed with me and two other llamas so that he was used to confinement and didn't panic. I began by feeding from buckets and hanging hay in the shed with the doors open and then gradually started closing the doors for a few minutes, with me inside too. I had hoped to halter him, but haven't yet managed this. I then made a sort of gate using three sheep hurdles on their sides, tied together with cable ties and tied to rings on the shed wall, 20" from one side. The next stage was getting him to eat on one side of the gate while the others ate on the other and then to close him in his side for a few minutes. I made sure there was nothing in his side of the shed which could hurt him if he starting leaping about, by boarding the sides.
This preparation really paid off. When the vet came today, Fernando was eating hay on one side as usual, with the others right there on the other side (it's really crucial that he could see where his females were and that they were safe). He was then quickly squashed tight behind the gate (head facing the far wall) while he was given a sedative. Once that kicked in, the vet was able to get in next to him and give the anaesthetic into the jugular. Then the gate was removed, the females let out and the operation performed. I can't say I enjoyed the experience (I'm certain the llama didn't) but being properly prepared made all the difference and meant as little stress as possible for Fernando.
I hope this is useful to others.
Cate
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