Wicklow man Joe Phelan sought a new business venture when his four children flew the nest. That was when K2Alpacas - one of Ireland’s largest and best-known alpaca farms - was born.
‘Alpaca Joe’ publishes a weekly update on That’s Farming - here is his next submission.
We had a parlour week last week; the guys’ nails were well overdue. It’s not only the girls that like to get their nails done but the boys love it too. It just wouldn’t be right to be seen out with bad nails.
Cutting nails is a regular exercise for any alpaca owner. Generally, the alpacas are on grass and there’s not much opportunity for the nails to wear down.
Some people put concrete bases down where the alpacas are fed to help wear nails down. The nails on white alpacas grow faster and have to be trimmed 4 times per year, while darks grow slower and require trimming just 3 times per year.
There are two areas an alpaca does not like to be touched - their head and their feet; because their main defence mechanisms are sight and flight.
Thus, doing nails can be ‘fun’; however. if you treat the alpaca firmly but gently and let them know what you are doing most of them cooperate.
On the front leg, gently slide your hand down the leg so that the alpaca knows what you’re doing, then grip the leg firmly but gently below the second knuckle, lift the leg up and back so that you present the pad of the foot upwards; then trim the nail level with the pad of the foot.
Be careful not to cut the pad as this can be painful for the alpaca and slow to heal. Also, avoid cutting the cuticle, but if you do, you’ll see plenty of blood. If cut, you should treat with an antiseptic spray.
The back legs can be a little more awkward; however, I use the same technique - run the hand down the leg, grasping below the second knuckle lift the leg back out and up, in a swift firm movement to prevent the alpaca kicking out.
Again, lift the leg and present the pad of the foot upwards and trim swiftly but not too deeply. It’s best to trim the nail several times rather than cut too deep and end up cutting the alpaca’s cuticle or pad.
Parlour week over and all the guys are looking good again - next week is dental week!