Dental Day on Rising Moon Farm

We have three llamas, hard-working guys that protect our flock from coyotes and any curious humans. We sheared Chachi, Zipper and Tucker last year, so they look better, (Thanks, Annie), but they still had ‘issues.’

We didn’t realize it, but llamas need to have their teeth trimmed.

Yowza. What to do? Then our friend Ann, a vet working for the University of Minnesota, suggested that a class of vet students could come to our farm and perform the llama dental work as a learning experience. We jumped at the chance.

The llamas, however, were less enthused. But their teeth were really bad, so we had to. I was occupied elsewhere, so Melissa took the photos and shared the experience. Here’s Chachi’s mouth.

Here’s Zipper’s mouth.

Because the llamas weigh between 350 and 400 pounds, and they don’t like to be touched, the vets gave them a gentle sedative. Even then, our guys didn’t want to settle down, so before the dental work, they wrapped a towel around the eyes, and like magic, the llama got all sleepy.

First step—mark where on the teeth you’re going to trim. Note the blue marks on the teeth.

Second step—put a black tube toward the back of the mouth so the animal will chew on that instead of on young vet fingers. (Note: llamas don’t have upper teeth in front—just a pad)

Third step—use a sort of small whirling grinder to trim the teeth, all the while squirting water on the teeth to keep them cool.


And once those teeth are nice and short, flossing is a good idea.

The vet students at work:


Here’s Zipper with his new teeth. Much better! (The ears back, however, mean he’s not a happy camper. Good thing he’s not a spitter.)

The llamas also had their hooves trimmed:

The more experience, the better, so the vet students checked the udders of all our sheep, and found one with active mastitis. Yikes. Antibiotics for that girl. They examined a lamb with a joint problem. They took a blood sample from a ram to have it checked for the scrapies gene.

We’d never had our ram tested for sperm count, so they did that as well. ***Please note: there are no photos of this procedure!*** They used an ejaculator to collect the sperm. (Gosh, so sorry I missed that.) Then the students used Melissa’s microscope to determine that Erik isn’t just okay fertile, he’s SUPER fertile.

Mid-afternoon the students left. We kept the animals by the barn for a few more hours to give the llamas time to feel better, and shake off their sedative. By evening, they were back out on pasture, munching grass with their fine new teeth.

10 thoughts on “

  1. Oh Catherine, great photos! (Or Melissa, great photos!) What an ordeal the llamas went thru! That is fantastic that you were able to coordinate with that vet class, your friend is definitely a keeper, lol! Interesting too about the llamas upper pad, I never knew that. One more miscellaneous fact to stow away and come out with later at a dinner party!

  2. Oh my gosh, what a whole lot of stuff going on on the farm! If I had been there, I think I would have run for cover (fast) for fear of some procedure or another being done on me!

    But I’m sure after it was all over and the students left, everybody was all the better for the day. Well, maybe not Erik the Ram . . . or maybe he was . . . or . . . I think I’ll sign off now.

    Great to see a post from you, Catherine.

  3. Melissa R—Guess I should have mentioned that! Llamas don’t have nerves in their teeth, so the procedure doesn’t hurt them.

    No pain, but they were a bit creeped out being touched by so many people, but the drugs helped mellow them out.

  4. Did you (or they, the vet students) cut off the fighting teeth too? Your fellas seem pretty mellow, but should they ever get in an argument, those fighting teeth can inflict a lot of damage.

  5. Annie,

    Yup, they pulled Tucker’s fighting teeth… he was the only one who had them. Melissa took a photo but it was too blurry to use. I think they’d intended to cut those teeth but were surprised when they came out….

    On the other hand, I wasn’t there, and I write fiction, so trust NOTHING I say!!

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