After this decision, we ended up talking with someone from the Vet School at the University of
Minnesota. They were willing to come down to our farm to do the castration for a small fee, and the students would be able to get more hands on training. These students are in their last year of school and try to get as much hands on experience as they can before graduation.
We set a date when the University Students and teachers were going to come and were given instructions of what needed to be done before they came. The guys couldn’t have any food the day before because of the medication they would be on to be put them under. We also had to clean the barn all out and lay down fresh, clean hay to help prevent infections.
On the day of the castrations, we waited for the University and watched as the guys run around fighting as usual. We knew we had made the right decision.
After the students arrived, they were given their first task from their teachers. Round up the alpacas and get them in the barn. My husband and I laughed as we remembered our first attempts at catching them. After 10 minutes of watching the students try, we asked the teachers if the students might need some help. She laughed and said, “We would like to let them try to figure it out and get a sense of what it will be like on a real farm setting. But, yes if you could help that would be great” Note: If you’ve never caught an alpaca that is not handled a lot, it is almost impossible if you don’t know what to do. But I’ll write about that another time.
My husband and I went into the barn and called to them and just smiled as we watched the faces of the students change to shock as the guys just came running right into the barn. (It helps when we are the ones that take care of them every day)
In the barn, the students broke up into 3 groups, each one of them would get a chance to do one surgery.
The students chose their alpaca and brought him into the main part of the barn. This is where the surgeries would take place. Each alpaca had a basic physical to ensure their overall health. Then they proceeded to give them the medicine to calm them down for the surgery. The guys also had a towel over their eyes and cotton in their ears, as extra measure to help them stay calm. Once they were totally under, they started the castration surgeries. Some of the students had done this a few times, others seemed a bit unsecure, this is something that will be gained when they are in their field. Once the surgeries were done, they also trimmed their hooves, cut their fighting teeth, trimmed their other teeth and gave them antibiotics.
Each alpaca took about ½ hour to complete their surgery and overall care.
The teachers were very beneficial to us as well. We asked lots of questions on diet, worming, care, etc. We learned a lot and also found a vet that had graduated a few years ago that had went through their program and knew alpacas. This was wonderful news as most vets that we’ve found didn’t have a lot of experience with alpacas.
It has been a couple of weeks since we got them castrated. They all are doing great and seem very happy now. No more fighting, which was our main goal.
We were very pleased with the University of Minnesota Vet students and would recommend them to anyone interested in getting their alpacas castrated or basic physicals.
Here's a link for the U of Minnesota: http://www.cvm.umn.edu/vmc/large-animal/species/camelids/index.htm
I hope our experience has been helpful, if there are any questions or if you want more information please feel free to ask.
Please continue to check back for more stories and updates on our guys.
May God’s Grace and Peace be with you