Are alpacas mulsed, crutched or wigged?
These are procedures traditionally used on sheep in Australia, and are intended to
reduce the incidence of flystrike.
Some breeds of sheep have been specifically bred
with a greater area of skin in order to produce more wool from
each sheep. They have folds of skin which, particularly around
the tail area, become very warm and moist, attracting flies to
lay their eggs there. The sheep's fleece is removed so that the
area is not so attractive to flies.
In the case of mulesing, the
folds of skin are sliced away to leave a smooth, bare skinned area.
Alpacas are born clean skinned around the tail
and belly areas and the fleece remains short on the insides of
the legs. This means they are naturally resistant to flystrike.
If you have an alpaca with scours (diarrhea) due to illness or worms, you may need to trim the fleece around the tail and legs to help keep the area clean while you're treating the scours.
complete with a short tail which is never docked. It makes a great
fly swatter. Healthy alpacas tend to remain clean around the back end,
without any intervention from humans.
This is a fabulous design from nature, and another
great reason to have alpacas (as if there weren't enough already).
We are hoping that alpaca breeders won't sacrifice this great feature
in the quest to get more wool off their alpacas.
There is a trend in Australia currently to breed
alpacas with woolly faces. In my opinion, this appears to be simply
for visual appeal, rather than to serve any useful purpose. The fleece around the face is usually too short to be of any great commercial
use and can be seen as a fault by some judges in the showring.
If you do have alpacas with particularly woolly faces, you may need to give
them a haircut occasionally - mainly so the animal can see where he's
going, but also so you can see those lovely alpaca eyes.