A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 19, 2009

Time for a Manicure

This week we have been working our way through the groups of alpacas checking toenails and trimming them as needed.  We check toenails once a month and typically find we end up trimming them about every other month.  Each alpaca has a different rate of growth of his or her toenails.  Often we find that the white toenails grow a lot faster than the dark toenails.

 

This picture is of Echo’s toenails, as you can see he is one of those alpacas who grows toenails really well.  Interestingly his dam and his sisters have the same trait.  Echo’s toenails definitely need a trim!

Echo's Toenails In Need Of A Trim

Echo's Toenails In Need Of A Trim

 

When trimming toenails we aim to finish with the toenail level with the pad of the alpaca’s foot.  We use toenail trimmers that are very similar to the bypass pruning shears used on roses.  Ric’s hands are strong enough that he can often trim each toenail in one cut, my hands are not as strong and so I tend to trim one side then the other on each toenail.

 

It’s important to keep alpaca toenails trimmed, over time they will get so long that they start to curl under and can cause the alpaca discomfort when walking.  The only time we hold off regular toenail trimming is on a female who is at the last stage of her pregnancy.  Some pregnant female alpacas tolerate toenail trimming whatever stage of pregnancy they are at but others get worked up about being handled toward the end of their pregnancy.  In that case we hold off any toenail trimming for that pregnant female until after her cria is born.

 

As we are on soft sandy soil there is little chance for our alpaca’s toenails to be worn down just by walking, as they would do if we had rocky ground.  To help the situation though we have put cement paving blocks around our automatic waterers so that the alpacas have to walk on the cement to get to the water.  Just having that small area of cement does help keep the toenails down and the alpacas like to lie on it during the summer heat too as it is nice and cool.

 

Trimming an alpacas toenails is an easy job and only takes a few minutes.  With as many alpacas as we have on the farm we do tend to work on them in groups rather than try and do the herd all in one day, but they are soon all done – manicured, pedicured but I do draw the line at painting their toenails!

 

Rosemary

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