We recommend alpacas hould be castrated unless they are in a well managed breeding program and can be handled by and experienced handler. This is because testosterone can lead to the development of undesirable behaviors and present many safety issues to both the owners and people working with them.
Best time is 6-12months of age, ie as soon as the testicles are in the scrotum. Over 18months the surgery may still have an effect on changing the behavioral characteristics but not always. Over 2 years of age the surgery is a lot more difficult and painful for the alpaca. Traditionally they were castrated later as their was belief that early castration affected the growth plate closure; this is not the case in alpacas but is in Llamas.
The castration of the alpaca requires surgery under general or local anesthetic by a qualified veterinarian. Elastrator rings should never be applied to an alpaca.
Restraint of the alpaca.
If adequate restraint is possible, ie alpaca shearing table, then the surgery can be performed safely with local anesthesia. If adequate restraint is not possible they will require at least sedation and restraining with ropes or a full general anaesthtetic.
Post op care
The wounds are stitched closed so flies should not be able to penetrate. However, it is wise to keep the wounds clean, free from blood, and use a suitable fly repellant such as Cetrigen or chlromide
All care is given to ensure there will not be major bleeding. However seepage of a small amount of blood from the wound is considered normal. If the amount of blood loss exceeds a few tablespoons, then please seek advise.
The local anesthetic used will wear off in approx 2-4 hours, and then some soreness may set in, particulary in the larger alpacas. Don’t be surprised if your alpaca moves around a bit gingerly for a day or two. If a general anesthetic is used the alpaca may be lethargic for 24 hours post operation and should only be fed small feeds for the first 24hr. Temperature extremes should be avoided as the alpaca will not be able to regulate its own temperature for about 24hr.
The stitches used are dissolving ones, so you do not need to remove them. However, they can be a bit stubborn, and may even remain in the skin for some weeks. Don’t be alarmed, you can gently tug on them, or snip them out to remove them if you want to, however they will eventually disappear on their own.
As the castration has been performed under non sterile conditions, we give your alpaca an antibiotic injection in the thigh muscle. This is to protect against any infection that could track into the wound. This injection can cause some local muscle soreness, and the alpaca may even limp for a day or so.
It is recommended that you confine your alpaca to a small yard for 2-3 days after the surgery. This is so that he can be monitored, and also means he doesn’t have to walk as far for feed and water, as he may be a bit reluctant to do so. Make sure if he is housed with other alpacas, that there is no chance of fighting or rough housing, as this may disrupt the surgical wounds.
Illness or Concerns
If you are concerned that your alpaca is doing anything odd, (eg not eating well, reluctant to walk, appears weak) please seek advice immediately. Problems after castration are rare, but need to be dealt with if they occur. I also recommend that your alpaca be up to date with Tetanus vaccination cover at the time of castration.
Note: it can take 3-6 weeks for testosterone levels to subside.
If sedation or general anesthetic is required there is extra charge of per alpaca. If the surgery takes longer due to poor set up or organization extra charges may apply. Please speak to one of our staff regarding your set up.