Saturday, 2 March 2013

DIY Alpaca Husbandry

OK, the last time we completed Alpaca manicures, we had the Alpaca Woman with us.  She and Husband got the Alpaca on the floor and I clipped the nails.  All of the Alpacas were shorn in Nov/Dec and had their needles, teeth and toe-nails done.  We had noticed that a few have already gotten long nails again, so Husband and I decided we would have a go with one of our quietest Alpacas - KayJay.

KayJay is just gorgeous, a little stocky but very placid.  She is pregnant for the first time, and she is halter-trained, so I showed her the halter and after circling the pen twice, she let me put it on.  Step 1 completed.

KayJay is renown for cushing as soon as she is haltered, so we thought we would at least have an easy time of doing her front feet.  No, KayJay refused to cush.  So Husband tried to carefully pull her down, as Alpaca woman had shown us.  KayJay let it be known that this wasn't at all what she wanted and filled my hair, neck and t-shirt with a huge mouthful of spit - I was the dopey one still holding onto her lead.

Husband got her down and I held her there while he fumbled around getting the clippers out of his pocket.  KayJay saw the opportunity and stood up with me still hanging over her back, I slipped down to the floor still holding her lead, and in a second I was dragged through the pen seeing the girls from a completely different angle.  Vodka stopped KayJay by spitting at her (thank goodness), and then I could finally hear Husband shouting 'let go!' and released the lead.  Madam KayJay then stood covered with spit, droopy mouth from spitting whilst I got up and dusted myself off.  I grabbed her lead again and walked her around the pen, and then unhaltered her as though that was all we were intending to do anyway - so we ended on a bright but somewhat smelly note.

It was only afterwards that I realised how lucky I was that KayJay hadn't reared on me whilst I was on the floor.  Husband and I decided to think up a new plan to complete the manicures (maybe two men are needed to hold the Alpaca down?).  If anyone would like to share the tricks of the trade, it would be greatly appreciated!! :)


  1. I am not going to be very helpful here, for all I can add is...I hate toe nail trimming!

  2. Lisa, We do our boys whilst they stand, Shirley controlling the neck/head and Robbie doing the clipping. Try practicing a few times so that they get used to you lifting a foot at a time. Sometimes it's a struggle, mostly it's fine! More on our blog later today. Good luck. Shirley & Robbie

    1. Thank you :) I did have a look at a few sites today which demonstrated the 'standing nail clip'. I think we will be able to manage a few of the girls this way, if we face them into a corner and use one side of the pen. The trouble is that they are all pregnant and not particularly pleasant at the moment LOL!!

  3. Do them standing!
    We have one female - Islay - who was very scared of toe nail clipping and for some time we held her against a gate and did not try to lift her feet - we just took the worse off. We did stand her on a board as we have no concrete areas. She will now lift her legs as long as we get a move on with it and don't keep her hanging around!
    We also never halter them for toe nail clipping - we hold them in, by the sound of it, the way Shirley mentions (Cameliddynamics calls it the bracelet hold - I think).

  4. We don't halter. We did a particularly awkward pregnant one, by making a small pen with hurdles (just as wide as her body), us on the outside - one of us held a feed bucket to occupy her, while the other clipped her toenails on the ground, standing on grass. I've had times when I wondered whether it was a job for two men, but practice and patience and trying on another day - I was told on a Cameldynamics course that nails are never an emergency.

  5. Like most folks, we too do them standing, no halters, and all except one are fine... most of the time! I think it's a good idea, if you have time, to run your hands down their legs regularly to de-sensitize them a little. We do this with our crias from birth and only 1 has proved a problem as an adult. We do, however, have a difficult gelding who takes 3 of us...we have to halter him, I hold his head, he cushes and gets up and down so someone holds him once cushed and then Ron reaches in for his feet but he's very clever at rolling onto them as he finds them! He screams throughout the process too! It's just a case of working out the technique that suits you, but you'll probably have one or two who'll object...often pays to just leave them and try again another day!

  6. Thank you for all of your comments - it was very helpful :) We ended up getting hold of KayJay yesterday and I held her in the bracelet hold - she was somewhat calmer :) KayJay still carried on like a chop when her legs were lifted, we managed to do the front and back left side before she reared and I couldn't hold her anymore. We gave her a break and then got her to do the other side and she cushed, so Daniel had to do the best job he could by rolling her slightly and getting to her feet that way.
    We have only had KayJay for seven months, and her nails were trimmed by the shearer, but they are growing out sideways so we researched how to cut them so that they will correct themselves. Poor girl, she wasn't happy but at least they were done and she must feel so much better now :)