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A Recent Yaking Experience

If you're an experienced rancher, this won't be new to you, but for anyone considering raising livestock as part of their survival preparedness plan, you might just learn from our mistakes. We are very new to owning livestock (yaks), and we continually make mistakes. Fortunately we have more experienced friends who are very patient with us and all our newbie screw ups.

We found two female yaks for sale a few weeks ago. The price was right and they were in a less than ideal living situation (yes, we will butcher a yak for food, but that doesn't preclude giving them good living conditions in the mean time), so we bought them and brought them home.

A few days later, Rapunzel... Let me stop right there... My wife names our yaks, and this yak has very long hair and was locked up alone in a pen for a very long time, so Rapunzel sort of fits. Anyway, Rapunzel was acting strange. She would stand still all day with a slight arch in her back, and if she had to move, she moved slowly, and her hind legs stepped awkwardly. She also wasn't eating at all, so we called our neighbors who've been doing this a lot longer than us, and they recommended a call to the vet.

The vet explained the problem. We feed our yaks premium alfalfa mix hay (they don't need that, but they sure do prefer it), and our new yaks had been fed low grade grass hay. The sudden change in feed had caused some form of colic and/or bloat. The vet gave us some Flunixin Meglumine, commonly called Banamine, to inject into the yak at 1cc per 100 pounds of the yak's weight (about 500lbs, so 5cc).

I'd never given an animal a shot, but it really wasn't hard once we had her in the trailer (a squeeze chute would have been better, but we don't have one yet). I slapped her thigh a few times to see how she'd react to the shot. After the first slap, she just ignored me, so I stuck the needle in and depressed the plunger. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was easy. The needle went in effortlessly, and she didn't even seem to notice.

Banamine is a strong pain killer and anti-inflammatory, so she seemed better within a few minutes, but the real goal is for the animal to relax enough to pass everything out. Over the next three days, we had to give her two more shots. We also had a “bloat block” (salt lick type thing that helps with bloat) but she wasn't licking it, so we had to scrape some of it off and sprinkle it on her food.

Rapunzel's be acting happy and healthy for a few days now, so we're pretty sure she's going to do just fine. We learned a valuable lesson about feed, and we now have some more medication on hand, so in hind sight, the whole situation worked out for good.

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