Everyone in the barn was a little tense.
The llama ladies had not had halters put on in quite some time, so they knew something was up:
Chester, not accustomed to being summoned back to the barn by me during the day, sniffed the air for clues:
Pete and Reggie, who normally wander the barn when I'm up there, were put into the third stall so they'd stay out of trouble:
Dolly gave me her very best "sad eyes", trying to convince me that I should take her halter off and give her some grain instead:
Chester took a good, stiff drink to soothe his nerves:
He's not at all embarrassed by his messy drinking:
Dolly went off to lick some salt to pass the time:
Chester was the one to hear the engine first:
It was Dr. Sarah, our small town country veterinarian, who had come out to address some animal health concerns I had:
I explained to her why I had asked her out:
1) I'd been noticing an unusual smell coming from Chester's mouth. It's a rather fishy/salty smell that I am not at all familiar with in donkeys. I was concerned that Chet might have an abscess or tooth or mouth trouble of some kind.
2) I was concerned about parasite/worm management in my barnyard herd. Being relatively new to country/farm life, and having just introduced 4 new and quite large animals to my animal family, I wanted to make sure everybody looked good and that my parasite management plan was sound.
3) I wanted a general llama health check: weight, skin, eyes, etc. I know very little about their history and wanted to know that there was nothing glaring that I was overlooking in their care.
4) Two of the three llamas, Toni and Kai, have rough, bare patches of skin along their spines that doesn't seem to be getting better and Kai has had a goopy, weepy eye that doesn't seem to get better.
Dr. Sarah got right to work checking Chester's mouth:
After an initial, cursory exam that revealed nothing out of the ordinary, it was time for a deeper look. This required the use of a crazy metal contraption (a full mouth speculum) designed to keep a horse's or donkey's mouth open during an oral exam:
Poor Chester. It didn't look comfortable. Dr. Sarah was very impressed with him because she thought she might have to use a mild sedative for him to allow the contraption in his mouth, but he allowed her to do what she needed to do without much of a fuss:
Such a good boy:
Diagnosis: She saw and felt nothing out of the ordinary. A couple of his teeth had the beginnings of what will eventually be sharper edges, so I will need to have his teeth floated (filed down) in the next few months. She found no sign of what might cause the smell in his mouth, so for now, I will just chalk it up to it being "his" personal smell.
Chester, his exam was finished, let everyone know how bored he *really* was with the whole thing:
Then it was the llamas' turn:
The vet thoroughly checked Kai's eyes and the dry, flaky skin on Kai and Toni's backs:
Diagnosis:Dr. Sarah saw no corneal damage and recommended Terramycin for Kai's eyes for possible mild conjuctivitis. She also could see no external parasite that might be the cause of the dry skin patches. She still, however, recommended a dose of Dectomax to combat any possible unseen mite or parasite affecting their skin:
This meant injections for all the llama girls:
Have you ever seen a llama rear up and then stomp its rear leg so hard you can feel the power of it in the floor mat beneath your feet? Until then, I never had. It was certainly an impressive moment, but also kind of scary. Needless to say, my ever-present camera was unable to be used during this time, so imagine, if you can, this scenario: 2 twitchy, agitated llamas, 1 angry, intense llama and 2 relatively small, focused women with needles in their hands all stuck together in a 12'x12' stall. Wow.
Bottom Line: Dr. Sarah said everyone "looked good". The animals are healthy, are not overcrowded, receive a good diet of grass hay and pellet feed (llamas), and are all a good weight.
She recommends I do a fecal exam for parasites in about 6 months and treat based on what I see. She does not recommend routine quarterly de-worming with alternating wormers. This is chemically treating a problem that might not exist or possibly treating a specific parasite with the wrong de-wormer.
All barn inhabitants immediately relaxed once Dr. Sarah drove away and the halters came off:
I asked Chester later what he thought of the whole vet visit-thing. This was his only response: