The alpacas were dealt with on the shearing table but Archie had to be fully sedated. He's not quite fully grown but is twice the size of the alpacas and wouldn't have fit on the table. He was given his anaesthetic and dropped into a deep sleep within five minutes and remained blissfully unaware that we had stolen his treasure when he came around about 45 minutes later.
The alpacas weren't quite so lucky and were administered a local anaesthetic and were certainly more aware that we were stealing their jewels although they didn't feel a thing.
Each castration takes about half an hour and we've got about another 10 pet males to do in the coming weeks.
And what makes them eligible for castration? Well, there's not a lot in it these days. basically they've got better brothers, showing more positive traits that will go on to become stud males to see if they can reproduce themselves or better. If not then they will in time also join the ' billy no nacks' club.
It may seem harsh but we are an alpaca stud farm producing high quality pedigree alpacas. Only the best will do. We can't breed with them all.
Out of each crop of males per season we carefully select only two to three in each colour to remain entire and become stud males either for ourselves or for sale to other alpaca farms. Sometimes we lease out these unproven males at much reduced cost to prove themselves at selected alpaca farms across the country. Once proven we sell their stud services to other alpaca breeders who wish to add the select and proven Toft bloodlines to their breeding programmes.
Because we are constantly monitoring the males for selection we never castrate the pet males until they are two or three years old. We also maintain a policy of allowing the pet males to virtually grow out to their full size before we castrate. Once castrated the alpaca live up to their registry status as non breeding males, the fleece maintains its fineness, the boys are calmer and we can safely graze them next to the females without any worries.
These castrated males are then sold as fully halter trained pet and guardian alpacas and very often these days as fibre producers for the 'crafty' owner. They will move off farm to fulfil their chosen purpose where they will be lucky to see a female alpaca and if they do they will now only nod in recognition rather than chase and reproduce.
As for Archie the Llama he will remain on farm as the Lord of the display paddocks in the front of the Toft Alpaca Shop to amuse the passers by and we shall sleep easy knowing that none of our female alpacas will ever be giving birth to surprising packages with big banana shaped ears!