Castration Of Llamas

Gelding, or castration, tends to reduce breeding type behavior, but may not eliminate
 it entirely.  Individuals vary of course and some males will still be somewhat pesty
 when around females and yet others may never notice. Most veterinarians recommend
waiting until about two years of age to perform the gelding procedure. 

Castration Of Camelids      Photos of Male Castration
       Routine Procedures -Castration        Spay        Anesthesia for Castration

This is an article on castration sent out by Dr. David Anderson of Ohio State University.

Castration of Camelids: When, Where, Why

Practicing veterinarians offering service to clients owning camelids are routinely asked for advice on castration of pet quality males. Superficially, this might appear to be a simple question, but there has been significant debate on this issue. At the center of the debate is a concern for musculoskeletal maturation of males after prepubertal castration. Breeders would prefer to castrate males at 4 to 6 months old so that they may be sold as pets soon after weaning. Veterinarians would prefer to see camelids castrated at 18 to 24 months after they have reached skeletal height maturity.

Castration of males at an early age has been shown in several species to delay the closure of long-bone physes. Therefore, geldings may develop a tall, straight legged stature (particularly of the hind limbs). In llamas, lateral patellar luxation and early onset of degenerative osteoarthritis of the stifle joints have been seen as complications of this posture. Historical data usually reveals that affected males were castrated at an early age (e.g. 4 months).

Basically, any castration method that has been used in other livestock and pet animals has been done successfully in camelids. However, two methods have become standards of practice: scrotal castration (similar to horses and swine) and pre-scrotal castration (similar to canine). I prefer to administer tetanus toxoid vaccination and procaine penicillin G (22,000 U/kg, q24h x 3 d) to each animal. All food should be with held for 12 hours prior to castration in case general anesthesia or heavy sedation becomes necessary.

Scrotal castration can be done with the animal standing or recumbent (I prefer recumbent). For standing castration, the camelid is sedated with xylazine (0.2 mg/kg body weight, IM) and butorphanol (0.1 mg/kg, IM) and an epidural is administered (2 ml, 2% lidocaine; or 10 mg xylazine in 2 ml sterile normal saline). The scrotum is prepared for aseptic surgery and, if an epidural was not used, 2 ml lidocaine is injected as a line block along the median raphe. A 2 cm incision is made on either side and parallel to the median raphe along the ventral most aspect of the scrotum. Each testicle is removed and excised either using an emasculator or after transfixation ligation with No 0 chromic gut (I prefer transfixation ligation). Topical antiseptic and fly spray are applied. For recumbency, xylazine (0.2 mg/kg, IV), butorphanol (0.1 mg/kg, IV), and ketamine (1 to 2 mg/kg, IV) are used.

Pre-scrotal castration is done with the animal recumbent. Strict aseptic technique is critical to ensure that infection of the castration site does not develop. A 2 cm incision is made on ventral midline immediately cranial to the ventral base of the scrotum. Each testicle is removed through this incision and excised after transfixation ligation. After hemostasis has been achieved, the skin incision is closed using a subcuticular or subcutaneous suture pattern. I prefer not to place skin
sutures so that removal of sutures is not necessary.

I recommend that camelids be confined to a small pen for 24 to 48 hours after scrotal castration.   Confinement is not needed after pre-scrotal castration. Owners should monitor the incision for bleeding, swelling, exudative discharge, fly infestation, difficulty urinating, and any other problems. Although complications are uncommon, the consequences of postoperative problems can be devastating to the owner.

David E Anderson, D.V.M., MS, Diplomate ACVS
College of Veterinary Medicine
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio


1. Baird AN, Pugh DG, Wenzel JGW, Lin HC. Comparison of two castration techniques
for castration of llamas. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;208:261-262.
2. Pugh DG, Baird AN, Wolfe DF, Wenzel JGW, Lin HC. A pre-scrotal castration technique for llamas.
Equine Practice 1994;16:26-28.
3. Barrington GM, Meyer TF, Parish SM. Standing castration of the llama using butorphanol tartrate
and local anesthesia. Equine Practice 1993;15:35-39.
4. Dargatz DA, Johnson LW. Castrating the llama: a step-by-step guide. Veterinary Medicine

Routine Camelid Procedures - Castration

Dr. David Anderson   March 8, 2019

David E Anderson, DVM, MS, DACVS College of Veterinary Medicine Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Castration of llamas and alpacas may be chosen to allow commingling of pet or fiber producing males and females, to restrict the available genetic pool, to lessen aggressive behavior, and to create gelding males to be sold as pets or show animals.

Timing of Castration  --  Preoperative Preparation  --  Postoperative Monitoring
General Anesthesia  --  Discussion of Results

SPAY    (Neutering Females)

Spay is to remove the ovaries of a female animal.  Spaying a llama is not that common, but it can be done successfully with no repercussions.  A lot of the success may be based on how experienced your vet may be with the procedure.

Niki Kuklenski of JNK Llamas shared has had experience with neutering females and
has shared the following information from her veterinarian:

The following is an overview of the work we did. We spoke with Dr. Tibary several years ago and formed a protocol that we followed, and did develop some proficiencies during that time. 
I will have to review our anesthesia; we did use gas but I do not recall if it was halothane or isoflurane; also I need to find the pre-sedation used.
Procedure was ventral mid-line, just in front (cranial) to the udder. We ID'd the uterus, isolated the ovaries and limited our surgery to an ovariectomy (only ovaries removed, uterus was not removed). Based on the few that we did, I do not recall any obvious problems with the surgery, the recovery or with behavior issues. 
Anesthesia, especially with gas is technically challenging. Over-conditioned animals were also more difficult.

If there is a veterinarian that would like to discuss they can contact us. It would take us some time to retrieve the actual records of our surgeries and they also fall under veterinary-client confidentiality. I will be unavailable for a couple of weeks, Drs. Schwab and Plotts were the other teammates in the surgeries we did. mja

michael j. anderson"

If you have questions, Niki would be a good contact person for information.

Another Look at Neutering Females

     The question re: neutering females was posted to the head of the Camelid Dept. at the Ohio State Vet Hospital - Dr. Jeff Lakritz.  His response follows:

"Females can be ovariectomized instead of removing the entire uterus.  It would still require a surgery, however it can be done in the traditional manner with incision in flank or via laparoscopy through 2 small holes (maybe 3 small holes) one for laprascope to watch and the other for laprascopic instruments."

Dr. Jeff Lakritz can be contacted for further information.


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