Castrating Gelding Alpacas and Llamas
Practicing veterinarians are sometimes asked to castrate pet quality
males at 4 to 6 months of age, so that the pets may be quickly sold. However, many
large anumal veterinarians feel that it's best to wait until the male is 18 to 24 months of age
to ensure that his musculoskeletal system has reached its mature state.
Many large animal veterinarians are concerned that alpaca and
llama males castrated before puberty
have delayed closure of long-bone physes. This results in geldings with a tall, straight
legged stature (particularly of the hind limbs). In llamas, lateral patellar luxation
and early onset of degenerative osteoarthritis of the stifle joints have been
seen as complications of this posture. Historical data usually reveals
that the affected males were castrated at an early age (e.g. 4 months).
Basically, any animal castration method that has been used in other livestock and pet animals
has been done successfully in camelids. However, two methods have become standards
of practice: scrotal castration (similar to horses and swine) and pre-scrotal
castration (similar to canine). Veterinarians routinely administer
and procaine penicillin G (22,000 U/kg, q24h x 3 d) to the animal being castrated.
Food should be withheld for 12 hours
prior to castration in case general anesthesia or heavy
sedation becomes necessary.
Scrotal castration can be done with the animal standing or lying down.
For standing castration, the camelid is sedated, and an epidural
is administered. The scrotum is prepared for aseptic surgery and, if an epidural
was not used, 2 ml
lidocaine is injected as a line block along the median raphe. A 2 cm incision is
made on either side and parallel to the median raphe along the ventral most aspect
of the scrotum. Each testicle is then removed and excised.
Pre-scrotal castration is done with the animal lying down. Strict aseptic technique
is critical to ensure that infection of the castration site does not develop. A 2 cm
incision is made on ventral midline immediately cranial to the ventral base of the
scrotum. Then each testicle is removed through this incision and excised after transfixation
ligation. After hemostasis has been achieved, the skin incision is closed using a
subcuticular or subcutaneous suture pattern.
The castrated male should be placed in a small pen for 24 to 48 hours after scrotal
castration. Confinement is not needed after pre-scrotal castration. Owners should
monitor the incision for bleeding, swelling, discharge, fly infestation, difficulty
urinating, and any other problems. Although complications are uncommon,
the consequences of postoperative problems can be devastating.
This page was last updated on June 9, 2009.