grew up eating, sleeping and breathing the family fiber-farm
life. I attended my first llama show while young enough
be in pre-school. Mom will tell you I was six weeks old
I attended my first sheep show. I don’t remember
days, but what I do remember with great fondness are some
of our first animals! With the longevity camelids are known
for, some of those animals are still around! Take for instance,
Seneca, one of our alpaca herdsires who my Dad showed at
one of the first AOBA Conference shows in the early 90’s.
Today, Seneca is alive and thriving at WoodsEdge at 18
of age, along with several geriatric llamas, most notably
Chocolate Delight, grandmother to Rio Bravo’s Biltmore,
who is now 16 years old. These geriatric animals require
special care over the years, so here are some techniques
use to keep our “seniors” healthy.
Alpacas, and llamas to a lesser degree, are herd animals,
so the senior member of the herd will always try to stay
with the herd. However, limited mobility from sore joints
can cause them to be left behind. House your seniors
with a group that is moving at the slowest speed, such
as the maternity group, and it will be easier for them
to remain a part of the herd.
I have had great luck with supplements from Dr. Rob
Pollard, www.llamadocherbs.com. Chocolate Delight
patiently waits at her designated feeding station each
morning as her feed contains Rob’s arthritis and
Older animals may not compete well in a large group, so
be sure they are getting their fair share of feed! It is
separate animals to an individual pen in a morning feeding
routine—it just takes a few days to get them into
In my experience, older animals are more likely to have
trouble with cold rather than heat. With their fiber
production being dramatically reduced (both staple length
& density), we often shear older animals every other
Sometimes I will let fiber re-growth on the neck go for
years to help keep them warmer, as one of their “thermal
windows” is the neck.
Consider hand shearing rather than electric shearing
geriatric animals. More fiber is left on the hand-shorn
animal, making them warmer for winter. Benign tumors
and sebaceous cysts can sometimes be seen on an older
animal and hand shearing avoids cutting these.
Geriatric animals shorn in the current year may need
coated for winter. We have used custom made coats as
well as pony coats. Be sure your senior citizen is on
warm bedding with access to hay while they are kushed,
as they will kush
to keep warm.
In all our breeding programs my parents strived for bloodstock
with excellent dentition, with few teeth needing
regular trimming. However, when an animal becomes older,
routine dental assessment is necessary to ensure the
continued well-being. Check a geriatric animal’s
least once every four months!
Older animals will need their feet trimmed more often.
Remember, pink nails as seen on some white alpacas always
have to be trimmed more frequently than black nails.
Joint issues, as experienced in all aging mammals, can
be made worse by long toe nails, so keep them trimmed.
I hope this partial list of pointers helps your “seniors” enjoy
the sunset days of their life. These animals can still
important role in your herd. Older females are great “babysitters”
for animals confined to stall rest with a leg injury or
ailments, or put a “senior” male in with your
to provide herd guidance. Next time you are at WoodsEdge,
be sure to ask to see Seneca and Chocolate Delight!
©2007 WoodsEdge Wools Farm