Last weekend was hoof trimming weekend. I did all forty adult sheep, which was a bit much, but nice to have it crossed off the list until fall. It was also a good time to capture the pesky llama. I had the sheep in the channel, and proactively, I laid down a long-line clipped to the fence on the channel end where I was working. All I needed was for the llama to wander into my snare. Then, I could lift the line and trap her. Llamas are really dumb about not being able to jump over or duck under a chest-height string.
She stayed aloof all through hoof trimming, until I was nearly done shifting sheep one-by-one through a man gate into their next grazing pasture. Then she figured she’d better get queued up near the gate to follow them through. I had my moment, and gingerly snagged the line and raised it. Then, gradually shortened the length until I had her cornered and could grab her dog collar. The whole while she observed her entrapment she hummed in disappointment and annoyance.
Once she is caught and haltered, she is reasonably well behaved. I tied her up, finished the rest of the sheep, then got to work on her. I managed to trim one foot’s worth of toenails before she started jumping around. So I stuck her in a little squeeze area I have, crushed her in tight, and did her toenails with no further ado. They needed trimming, but only barely, she doesn’t seem to have high maintenance feet.
Her dentition is another story. So, next I tackled her ridiculous teeth. Llamas only have lower front teeth, and an upper dental plate, just like sheep. Our llama’s lower front teeth are misaligned and grow horizontally, and as such, don’t wear from grazing like they should. So they get too long and need to be cut back. A veterinarian who specializes in camelids showed me how to do it; it’s quite easy, with a Dremel tool and a grinding disc. The llama is amazingly calm through all of this- though she doesn’t really like her head handled in general, the tooth cutting itself doesn’t seem to bother her much.
Here’s a picture where I’ve done one tooth (towards the right) and there are still two long ones remaining on the left.
And when I was done, below. My Dremel started to run out of battery power, and the llama was running out of patience. I wish I could have gotten the left-most tooth a little shorter, but I was lucky to finish what I had done and smooth it out. Her teeth are so imperfect, there is really no way to make them correct. So this will have to be good enough for this year.
I’m undecided on what to do about shearing her. It’s expensive to pay someone to come and do one animal. In the summer of 2010, I took her to a low-cost shearing event. But, then, regretted the fact that her wool didn’t regrow very fast, and she was perhaps under-wooled for winter. I may try just doing some blade trimming on her to shorten her fleece, but not take it off entirely. Add it to the to-do list!