Being a farmer sometimes means making difficult decisions about livestock.
When John Barnett went out to the barn at Blowing Oaks Ranch in Batesville, Arkansas to check on their alpaca herd, he was alarmed to discover that 6-week-old Cinco had broken his leg while playing. Since animals sometimes keep running on broken limbs, the alpaca had damaged his leg so badly that it had to be amputated.
John Barnett with Cisco the alpaca after limb amputation.
Cinco, who got his name because he was born on Cinco de Mayo, had his front left leg amputated. John asked the vet to take the limb below the shoulder so that they could potentially fit him for a prosthesis, and they agreed.
As for where they’d get a prosthetic limb for a growing baby alpaca, John’s wife, Caren Barnett, called in some favors! Caren works as a physical therapist and director of an outpatient rehab facility in Batesville. She asked the prosthetic and orthotic lab next door for help, and a certified prosthetist orthotist took on the project.
Cisco the alpaca being fitted for his new prosthetic limb.
“I don’t think he knew what an alpaca was at that time, but he agreed he would see what he could do,” Caren said. “He had previously made a prosthetic for a dog and a horse but otherwise did not have much experience working with animals.”
Using only donated parts aside from the custom-made socket, they created a prosthetic with a height-adjustable plyon that will grow along with Cinco. He went for several fittings before finally getting the finished product on September 14th.
Cisco the alpaca models his new prosthetic limb next to a smiling child.
Caren and John say that Cinco will now be able to go to alpaca shows, where he’ll be judged on his fiber qualities rather than confirmation. If he shows well, he will still be able to be used for breeding on the farm. Either way, Cinco will live the rest of his life running free at Blowing Oaks Ranch!
“Most importantly, we will do everything to make Cinco as comfortable and happy as we can and help him live out as normal a life as is possible,” Caren said. “I have to admit to spoiling him with extra treats and kisses. He is a super-sweet alpaca and our farm favorite for sure.”
Cinco the alpaca with his new prosthetic limb.
It’s so nice to see farmers who really care about their animals! Cinco wound up on the perfect farm to care for him, and we look forward to watching him grow up with his new limb.