Last year we suffered the loss of four alpacas and one llama to bTB. In order to lift movement restrictions, our surviving nine llamas and two alpacas had to undergo DEFRA bTB testing by a DEFRA vet. Because the DEFRA vet had had little experience of testing llamas, it was time to consider building a crush.
The first decision was where to site the crush. We have a passageway running down the side of our stable block into the yard, which made a natural race through which to move the animals – ideal.
Once the crush was built we used a 15-foot gate to extend the race so that we could steer the llamas into the crush.
Stable mats were hung from the sides of the crush to protect the animals and handlers.
Two 7’ x 3” square, planed, hardwood fence posts
Six 6’ x 4” round peeled, pointed and treated stakes
Four 2” x 4” x 6’ pieces of treated timber
Three 2” x 5” x 2’ 6” pieces of treated timber
Two 8’ x 4” round planed and treated posts
Loads of 5” galvanised nails
Twenty-four 3” external screws
Two coach bolts and nuts about 8” long
Two pieces of standard guttering about 6’ long and 6 cable ties (12” plus)
Tools: screwdriver, hammer, drivel or sledge hammer.
1) Knock three of the 6’ x 4” stakes into the ground, to a depth of 18 inches with spacing of 3 feet, to form a line (Picture 1).
2) Knock the remaining three 6’ x 4” stakes into the ground, to a depth of 18 inches, parallel to the first line but 2’ 6” away, to form a rectangle for the sides of the crush (Picture 2).
3) Fix two of the 2” x 4” x 6’ timbers to the inside of one line of stakes, with the first piece of timber being about 1 inch below the top and the second piece being mid-way between the first and the ground. Use the 3” screws.
4) Fix the remaining two 2” x 4” x 6’ pieces of timber to the inside of the other line of stakes, with the first piece being about 1 inch below the top and the second being mid-way between the first piece and the ground. This should now produce a rectangular channel to form the body of the crush.
5) Fix the two 7’ x 3” square, planed, hardwood fence posts to the rear side of the first stake on each side, to form the supports for the neck bracing poles. Use the 5” galvanised nails.
6) Fix one of the 2” x 5” x 2’ 6” treated pieces of timber to the bottom of the hardwood fence posts, to form the bottom support for the neck bracing poles. Use the 5” galvanised nails.
7) Fix the remaining two 2” x 5” x 2’ 6” treated pieces of timber to the top of the hardwood fence posts, to form the top support for the neck bracing poles. You can use the 5” galvanised nails – I used some half-inch threaded bar and nuts and washers.
8) Drill holes through the bottom of the two 8’ x 4” round planed and treated posts, big enough to push the coach bolts through. These will form the neck braces. Drill holes of the same size in the bottom neck brace support.
9) Reduce the top of the 8’ x 4” round planed and treated posts to just under 3”, to allow the tops to move freely in the top neck brace supports (Picture 3).
10) Slide the neck braces into the top support and bolt the bottoms into position with the coach bolts (Picture 4).
11) Attach the rope to the top of one of the neck braces to use as fixing aid (fig 4).
12) Attach the guttering to the inside of the neck braces with the cable ties, ensuring that the locking part of the ties is to the outside. This provides a smooth surface so that the llamas’ necks can slide up and down the braces. An additional stake can be added about 3’ from the front of the crush, to wrap the leads around, if extra restraint if necessary. I would not tie the llamas up though, in case a quick release is necessary in an emergency. Position of crush, with passageway race and gate in position.