Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Trimming Alpaca Teeth

Today we trimmed the boys teeth
 We have raised Llama's for years in the past and never had to trim teeth, allowing Llamas and Alpacas to graze helps wear down their teeth naturally, but these boys we just rescued were held in a small pen and only fed cut hay so their teeth didn't have a chance to wear down and the owner neglected to have anything done about it.  Trimming Alpaca teeth isn't very difficult and can be done by a veterinarian or by yourself with some help.

Here's the BEFORE picture

Look at those teeth !  I've been calling the white and black Suri "Austin Powers" because of his teeth. 

Because their teeth were never taken care of they were having trouble grazing and were unable to grind their food up properly causing them to lose weight and of course it slowed down their fiber growth because they were unable to get all the benefits of the food they had access to. 

Since this was our first time dealing with overgrown teeth, I did a lot of searching on the web to find out just how to proceed with this and asked other Alpaca owners in my area for advice.  I found a lot of great instructions, tips and video's already on the web and SO MUCH HELP from other Alpaca owners.  Usually a good shearer will trim teeth when they do the yearly shearing, the previous owners sheared themselves and just didn't bother with teeth and foot trimming.

Here's what we rigged up to do the job since we don't own a chute and I needed to be in a standing position to complete the job because of my back.  Everyone uses different methods of restraining their Alpacas and I am in no way claiming to be an expert,  but this is what worked for us.

For the chute we used 2 metal panels, 2 kids swings, some 2 x 4's we had laying around and lots of rope.  We set up the panels into a V shape which we secured to a deep planted pole so it wouldn't move on us and used the 2 x 4's to hold their head in place.  The swings were place behind the front and back legs and we lifted him just high enough to cause him to get unbalanced if he tried to move.  That was the hardest part, lifting a Alpaca isn't the easiest thing to do, they are much heavier than they look.
For the actual cutting of the teeth we used a high speed Dremel with a Diamond Wheel cutting blade and a grinding drum to file them smooth after the cut.  We used a small bit of black plastic pipe to keep their mouths open and their tongue out of the way while we did the cutting.  We used a spray bottle filled with water to keep the blade cool while it cut.  I also used dog nail clippers to trim their fighting teeth.
We were able to take care of their feet and de-worm them at the same time.

Not too happy with us, but Look at them now !  They can close their mouths now !

There are several really great video's posted on youtube that show different methods to deal with overgrown teeth. Some use OB Wire, Dremels and there is even a special tool made just for trimming Alpaca teeth.  We didn't have enough people to have someone hold a video camera while we did this, I wish we had !  

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