The Woolly Army Spa Days

Did you read that right? Yes, you did… but they might not be the kind of Spa Days you’d enjoy ;) Or maybe you would… no judging here!

Our Spa Days consist of pedicures, body scoring and routine worming! All of our staff get trained in how to do this so that all of them can apply this knowledge throughout the year when doing ‘The Rounds‘ and checking to make sure everyone is ok. However, we always do this as a regular feature on our annual calendars, that way no one misses out and they all get a complete once-over.

So what does an alpaca or llama pedicure actually look like, well there are no white towels, no comfortable chairs and no glasses of bubbly, that’s for sure. All our pedicures are performed in the open air with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and they are done whatever the weather so our team of Spa Therapists aka Camelid Caregivers have to be hardy souls and not mind a bit of mud and the occasional stroppy client. We always have two people involved, one of us will reassure and hold the alpaca or llama while the other one simply lifts one leg at a time, checks the nails and trims (carefully) any rough or overgrown bits with a pair of industrial scissors. We always opt to take off less, erring on the side of caution as for the most part they will wear their nails down moving about the fields and trails.

While we have our ‘client’ we check their body condition, known as body scoring. This is where we can tell if they are gaining or losing weight and pick up if they have any other issues we need to be aware of. Tender spots, lumps, cuts, hair loss or just an itchy spot that they want scratched… or in the case of some of them, a bit of extra love and attention! You know who you are Squirrel, Milky Joe, Billy, Popeye and Pickles…

This image below shows you how we body score; we feel the middle of their backs, over the spine and assess the amount of ‘padding’ they have in this area. If they have a body score of 1 it means they are underweight, their spine will sit prominently (or high) and there will be very little padding. This often happens if an animal is sick or old and we start to introduce extra measures and we will seek Veterinary Advice if they are this thin. At the other end of the scale we have a body score of 5, these little chubby ones will have to get walking, trekking and perhaps held back from the high energy food. An overweight Alpaca or Llama can get into serious health issues and is as dangerous as being underweight can be. Ideally our animals will have a body score of 3, having said this though, at different times of the year this changes due to their level of exercise and also due to the weather. Like us they do seem to gain a few extra pounds in winter with all the hibernating! We also keep an extra close watch on our animals when they are old, young or pregnant as this affects their feed and exercise and therefore their body score ratings.

We also do regular worming treatments with them. Like all other grazing and domestic animals Alpacas and Llamas need to be kept in a clean and properly cared for environment to ensure this does not become an issue for them. When our staff do ‘The Rounds’ the paddocks, fields and stables are cleaned off any faeces and fresh straw is laid daily. We rotate them around all of our 7 different sites, ensuring their paddocks and fields have a chance to rest from both their grazing and to allow their toilet areas to be completely cleaned. With Veterinary assistance we test them regularly and also routinely give them an oral drench worming treatment.

So our Spa Days are a bit different to what you might have expected but they are very important for our boys and girls. We perform these check ups several times over the course of the year, usually in our quieter months giving both us and them time so there’s no rush, lots of time to chat, chin rub and just hang out with them all… who needs glasses of bubbly!

Wordsmiths: Rachel Kearns & Emma Smalley

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