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Flashdancing Donkeys

Nip and Tuck look retro spiffy in their brightly striped leg warmers. Tuck chose yellow with discreet blue cuffs, while Nip went all out with pink and purple. All of which leaves you wondering why we would humiliate our donkey friends by forcing them in to such attire.

The answer is that it is fly season in Dallas. If you are a human, you have noticed that our mild winter produced fantastic crops of weeds and mosquitoes. Your pets can attest to the healthy state of population growth among the fleas. For equines, the main enemy is the black fly, and flies seem to prefer the donkey over any other equine. Horses are nice, but donkeys are delicious.

Flies buzz about the boys’ heads in an annoying manner, but for biting they head for the legs. The boys can’t scratch the itchy bites by hand, since equines lack hands, so they rub against their fence. Between that and normal, day-to-day donkey boo-boos, they soon have open places on their skin, which attracts more flies. It is an unfortunate fact of life for farm animals, with no easy solution.

Like other donkey caretakers, we battle the flies on many fronts. We try to eliminate them with extreme prejudice, and to put barriers between the survivors and our donkeys. We have fly traps at the donkey pen, baited with stinky stuff that flies love. To reduce future generations, we practice fly birth control. If you are eating, you may want to skip this. We use a donkey food additive that passes right through the animal and comes out the other end. Mama flies lay eggs in animal poop, but with this additive the eggs become sterile and don’t hatch.

Keeping the flies off of the donkeys is another challenge. We coat their legs with a gooey fly repellent called swat. We prefer the clear kind, but the pink swat is quite decorative. It does a pretty good job, but when we see bad openings in the skin, we resort to vet wrap for an impenetrable barrier. It is a long, stretchy bandage material that sticks to itself. While it is on, the wounds have a chance to heal. But don’t count on seeing the boys’ legs covered when you visit. They can’t be wrapped up all the time. It is a bit uncomfortable for them, and ultimately, wounds heal faster exposed to air.

Our animals get regular visits with a veterinarian who specializes in large animals. We follow her advice for their daily care. What she has never been able to explain is why that vet wrap comes in shockingly bright colors that make the boys look like they are ready to dance to some eighties music.

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