Equine and Camelid Castration

Camelid Castration

Overview

Llamas are castrated after they are at least 18 months of age unless behavioral issues develop earlier. Llamas are slower to mature and need more time to develop. If castrated too early, they develop very straight hindlimbs and can develop stifle issues.  Alpacas can be castrated at a slightly younger age as they seem to have fewer issues with early castration.

Preoperative medications

Camelids should be vaccinated for tetanus toxoid and receive preoperative NSAIDs, typically flunixin meglumine. Oral meloxicam can be used but needs to be given a few hours in advance to be present at sufficient blood levels. Due to their small testicles, recovery is straightforward and the infection risk is low

Anesthesia

Llama lullaby is the standard anesthetic protocol, with alpacas being less sensitive and needing more drug per kg bodyweight.   Due to the risk of regurgitation and aspiration, animals should be fasted for at least 12 hours. Similarly,  the head should be positioned to ensure any saliva or regurgitant drains out of the mouth vs down into the lungs. Atropine is avoided as it thickens salivary secretions.

Local anesthesia minimizes the need for other drugs and lowers the pain levels postoperatively. Cord blocks or testicular blocks should be performed.

Surgery

Camelids can be castrated like big dogs or like small horses. Either a prescrotal or scrotal incision can be used. The testicular artery can be emasculated or ligated. The incisions can be closed or left open.

Recovery

Once the procedure is completed, the animal should be propped into sternal with the head supported until the animal can support it himself.

Postoperative care

The animal should be monitored for appetite and attitude as well for any bleeding or eventration but complications are very rare.

Male like behavior usually lessens within 24 hours but, at least in other species, males may be fertile for at least 6 weeks. (Little information is available for camelids). Occasionally male behavior is learned and does not fade with castration.

Special conditions

Cryptorchidism is rare but missing testicles can be hard to find.

Inguinal herniation is very rare.

Practice

Level A Exercises

Review your anesthesia info:

Earlier today you castrated a 2 yo alpaca. Flies were bad so that affected your choice of procedures.  It had been 6 months since he had his spring shots but he was otherwise healthy and there were no complications. Please fill out the following surgery report.

Resources

Camelid sedation and anesthesia

Routine Camelid Procedures – Part 1: Castration of Alpacas and Llamas, 2019 VetFolio

Ch 62 Reproductive surgery  in Llama and Alpaca Care 

Ch 64 Castration in Veterinary techniques for llamas and alpacas

 

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD; Elaine Norton, DVM PhD; Erica Dobbs, DVM; and Ashley Ezzo, DVM is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.