Token Creek Alpacas

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Vet Students Visit Token Creek Alpacas

This article was published on: January 5th, 2018

Token Creek Alpacas has a history of supporting the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary School in general and in particular the Small Ruminant Club; we love having these students visit our farm. Once or twice a year we invite the club for our monthly herd health day. With nearly 40 animals of assorted ages, both sexes and with females in different stages of pregnancy it’s an opportunity for the students to have hands on experience with alpacas. Elden corresponds with the club president, we set a mutual date and we begin to plan for their arrival.

Elden aka the Farmer and I print health records, prepare our barn and gather supplies. On the day of our clinic we begin by welcoming everyone in the house for a morning beverage and quick overview of the day. Once in the barn Elden fills everyone in on what is ahead and gives them basic information on alpacas. The Farmer works through the particular procedures he’s developed over the past several years, always taking all the time necessary for questions from students. From the importance of weighing each alpacas to drawing up injections, checking eye membranes for anemia to checking under tails – it’s all covered.

Students rotate through procedures, they learn about body scoring, check for tooth abscesses, ear problems, skin issues and we explain stages of alpaca life. Toe nails, teeth and utters are checked as well.  Each animal has a place on the herd health form, details are written by a student, weights are recorded, injections are given, vitamins administered as needed and every health detail taken care of.

After several hours in the barn filled with firsthand experience and questions we all gather in the house for a hearty lunch together. This time is especially enjoyable as we greet returning students, rotate around the tables asking everyone’s name, where they hail from and ask everyone to answer a few quick questions: Why Vet School?  Do you expect to practice large or small animal care? Why the small Ruminant Club?  Answers are as varied as the personalities and often surprising.  From the student who was raised on a dairy goat farm in New England to someone interested in small animals from L.A., it’s great hearing everyone’s story.

Students are always thankful for a little time away from campus and a meal they don’t have to prepare!  Elden and I want them to feel relaxed and at home here. We explain our farm has a pressure free zone around it and we hope everyone can enjoy the experience, food and fellowship. After finishing in the barn, we even take time for a group photo op!  When we stand on our back steps and wave as the students drive away, our hope is the day has been as much of a blessing to them as it’s been to us.

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