Stenness chats about the young geldings Croft Ambrey and Kennett

We’ve a couple of baffled young chaps on the farm this week. Unhappy at first, but already feeling a lot better. Let me tell you all about it.


Croft Ambrey, Kennett and I were penned in the yard on Saturday night without any food, and the next day our water was taken away. ‘Very strange’ we thought and we weren’t sure why our people had done this. Then I had an inkling early on Monday morning when our people pulled out some new mats into the pen, got a bucket of water with something smelly in it and started scrubbing down the mats. Oh, Oh, I thought. I remembered when I’d been a youngster – just about the same age as Croft Ambrey and Kennett and I’d had a visit from our doctor.


The reason for this is that our people want only some of the male llamas on the farm to become fathers and would like the others to have a little operation to make sure we can’t father any young llamas. It soon became apparent that my thoughts were right. Our green-overalled doctor arrived and started preparing all his bits and bobs for the operations. There are needles, tubes, bottles, string, cloths, gloves and trays – really lots of stuff to be wary of.


The two youngsters and I were tethered and groomed by this time. I was there to calm Croft Ambrey and especially Kennett down and I think it was good I was around (though it brought back some memories).

Our people decided they would like to operate on Croft Ambrey first as he was calmer and Kennett was bleating pitifully. Croft Ambrey was led into a sort of crush, well two rails close together and was tied up with his head high. The doctor looked at his rear end and checked everything was in order and then Doc put some metal tubes in his ears and listened to Croft Ambrey’s chest. He’s a good, strong llama with a regular heartbeat. We llamas have to be sleepy to operate on us and first Doc cut away a patch of fibre on Croft Ambrey’s neck, cleaned it, and put a needle in. Needles and llamas don’t always mix but the chap was excellent and didn’t complain. Croft Ambrey was untied and allowed to relax with Kennett and me. He looked a little dopey but was calm.


Ten minutes later he was taken back into the crush, another needle was inserted and after another liquid was injected into his neck, Doc said ‘move him onto the mat’ and no sooner had the nurses (our people) done this, than Croft Ambrey collapsed. He wasn’t unconscious, just very relaxed, sleepy and totally unconcerned. Female nurse held his head up. This is important as we have three stomachs and we wouldn’t want to be sick or choke when the operation was taking place.


Croft Ambrey was lying on his side and male nurse held the young llama’s top rear leg out of the way so Doc had access to Croft Ambrey’s testicles. Croft Ambrey’s eyes were half open, and he was awake, but didn’t need a local jab and wouldn’t feel anything. Doc said he’d have about 30 minutes to complete the castration before Croft Ambrey started moving so he worked quickly. Two incisions were made, fat was cut away, small clamps were used and the testicles were removed. A stitch was put in each side. I think this is why people practice needlework, so they can stitch up poor llamas after operations. It took a couple of attempts to put the stitches in as Doc had to be completely sure the bleeding had stopped and then the funny blue spray was sprayed on Croft Ambrey’s wounds, which were let open to heal naturally. He had another jab, his microchip inserted and tried to rise from the mat. But he couldn’t get up straight away and was very groggy. After 15 minutes he felt strong enough to try again and struggled up. After two or three false starts where he fell over he had his halter refitted by our female person and was led to the newly-filled manger. He wanted to eat, but couldn’t at first as he couldn’t control his mouth which dribbled a bit. Me? I was starving and joined him to tuck in for the first time in 36 hours. Croft Ambrey was supported and allowed to lean on the manger and braced his legs.


Then it was Kennett’s turn. My nephew is a bit of a softy and had been calling out during the first operation but was as good as gold during all the preparation. He was put into the crush, checked over by the doctor, shaved on the neck, and had his first jab. Kennett is quite a bit smaller than Croft Ambrey and didn’t need such a big dose of knock-out medicine. Doc reduced the dose of the second jab and 20 minutes after the first jab gave him the second more powerful jab. Again, hardly had he been moved to the mat before he was down like a felled tree.


Kennett is smaller and more manageable than Croft Ambrey, and this time female nurse stayed with her patient and helped him at the manger. Male nurse held Kennett’s head up and the upper rear leg out of the way. Doc worked quickly and castrated the 21-month old llama efficiently. Again he used clamps and sutures, scissors and thread to put stitches in Kennett’s wound inside the scrotum. Blue spray, an antibiotic jab to keep infection at bay, his microchip inserted at the base of the neck, and Kennett was moving to get up.


A really quick job, and a tired but hungry Kennett at the manger. He braced his front legs and kept his back legs together and relying on this triangle of stability dipped his head into the manger where a wave of tiredness overcame him so he seemed to fall asleep. But the will of a llama is to get up. Being down or weak is bad as we fear we may be prey to hunting animals and Kennett didn’t fall over once.


Those boys will have a much better life than that of a stud llama and will remain in the herd and be happy with us for the rest of their lives.


Doc said goodbye and our people cleaned up. They gave us water and left the two chaps to recover their equilibrium. A couple of hours later we were haltered again and the three of us were led to our own field for a spell. We can see the other boys over the hedgerow, but it’s best if excitable young llamas like Stanton Drew doesn’t chase Croft Ambrey and Kennett around for a week or two. Very soon we’ll be back with the boys and life will continue as normal at Golden Valley Llamas.


Watch out for us on 1st and 2nd May at Herefordshire’s Hampton Court where we’ll we giving taster llama experiences and at the North Somerset Show on 3rd May where the girls will we competing for jolly rosettes.


More from Golden Valley Llamas soon.


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