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Monday, September 19, 2016

Alpaca Toenail Trimming / a New Experiment

Girls coming down paving stone path

Girls coming down paving stone path

By Barbara Patterson, Golden Pine Alpacas Farm

Like the changing of the seasons, the time to trim the alpacas’ toenails comes around every three months, give or take.

That schedule changed at our farm this year with the addition of concrete paving stones around the feeders, barn entrances, and a heavily used alpaca walkway.

After giving it a lot of thought, my husband Pat came up with the idea of creating an abrasive surface for our alpacas to walk on, which we hoped would extend the time for toenail trimming. In the Peruvian high Andes, alpacas walk on rocky terrain which keeps their toenails nicely trimmed. We brought in three pallets of square paving stones, with 144 stones in each pallet, to cover the areas the alpacas use the most.

Our alpacas, curious creatures that they are, stood about watching as Pat placed the paving stones around their feeders and at the barn entrances. Their enthusiasm for this change, on a scale of one to ten, was one! The alpacas attempted, with some success, to jump over the paving stones into the barn. It was more difficult, despite their long necks, to reach the hay in their feeders. The alpacas avoided walking on the long stretch of paving stones leading to one of the feeders by stepping off onto the dirt. We thought, Oh, what have we done! All the labor and expense for nothing? But in a few days, all the changes were accepted and the alpacas are again happy campers. Marvelous animals they are and so adaptable!

This new experiment seems to be a success. The last time we trimmed toenails was mid-March and early April. We are now in mid-September and the toenails are still looking okay.
Pavers on all sides of feeder

Pavers on all sides of feeder

Pavers on two sides

Pavers on two sides

Pavers at one of barn entrances

Pavers at one of barn entrances

Pavers at a west barn entrance

Pavers at a west barn entrance