Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Fecal exams are fun!
Well, they aren't really, but I thought this would make a catchy title.
I've been trying to better understand parasite management with my llama, Kai. As with my donkeys, I am uncomfortable simply injecting her with a random (although vet-recommended) anti-parasitic/de-wormer every 3 or so months with the hopes that it will take care of whatever issue she has. I really want to be able to knowledgeably treat and dose my animals.
These are some of the parasites and worms that llamas can have:
As you may recall, my Kai is a rescue llama. (You can read here about how she came to live at Critter Farm a year ago last November.) Sherri, the lady who rescued Kai, along with Kai's mom and sister, owns a llama farm called Hidden Oaks Llama Ranch. Sherri is an extremely knowledgeable llama owner and breeder. She is also incredibly well versed in conducting fecal exams. She does all the exams on her approximately 80 llamas and has even posted documents teaching others how to do their own tests. (Side note: This is one of the handful of items on my New Year's Resolution list: "Learn how to do your own fecal exams on your critters".)
Since I recently located this:
...my husband's super cool microscope (that he's had since he was 12 years-old!), this gives me one of the primary tools - and extra incentive - to learn:
But until I have the rest of the gear I need (glass slides and cover slips, fecalyzer test vials, sodium solution, etc), I won't be ready to attempt doing fecal exams on my own yet. I still need my vet's assistance with this.
Recently, I've noticed that Kai has an increased appetite and is showing an urgency around food that is a little unusual, which makes me wonder whether something might be going on with her that I should have checked out. So, off I go to collect some llama beans:
I had put Kai in her stall during breakfast yesterday morning, hoping she would kindly provide me with a small sample:
With trusty Ziploc baggie in hand, I head off to check the stall for my sample:
Ah, good girl, Kai:
One only needs to gather a few beans for the test:
Kai seemed a bit concerned that this particular bag contained none of her beloved carrot coins:
The test result came in from the vet this morning: It was 100% clean. Absolutely no signs of any parasites!
How can this be? This struck me as highly unlikely. Granted, she is the lone llama on my property and cross contamination between donkeys, llamas, goats and chickens does not occur, but still. When I conferred with Sherri over this, she said "I have some llamas that always seem to have something, then others can go for years without de-worming. Lucky you :-) "
Yes, indeed, lucky me. Not at all what I expected, but excellent news. Now I need to check the goats:
Do any of you do fecal exams on your own animals? Does anybody want to maybe mentor me?