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Old 01/16/09, 11:30 PM
Hawkfamily's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 411
RING WOMB?? Please help!

Do we 'go in' and try to get the babies out? This ewe experienced ring womb last year and we decided to give her one more go this year. The same thing appears to be happening. Her labour is stalled, I suspect her water has broken. Last year, we waited way too long and when the vet came and pulled the babies out, they were still alive, but we lost them later.
We don't want to pay for the vet to come and pull them out, when we can do that ourselves.
Is that what we should be doing? i hate this.
How have you guys handled this in the past?

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Old 01/17/09, 12:36 AM
RiverPines's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Wisconsin
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How can you pull the lamb if the cervix isn't dilated and that's what ring womb is.

I would think the vet gave a medication to dilate the ewe last time if it was ring womb.

If you pull a lamb, get a drug from the vet to dilate the ewe first!
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Old 01/17/09, 02:17 AM
Hawkfamily's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: BC, Canada
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I wish there was an actual drug that would make you dilate, then I wouldn't have had to have a c-section.
Last year, the vet arrived, fully expecting to find the babies dead inside and went on in. He confirmed with us then that she had not dilated and that she had ring womb. He realized upon getting in there that the babies were still alive, and he pulled them. not easily.
So, tonight, we gave the mom a shot of calcium first and then decided to massage to work the cervix. There was a baby right there. So, we went in to get them out.
The first one was positioned well and, despite the cervix, and after 40 minutes or so, my husband got her out. The second one was malpresented with its front legs out and its HUGE head tucked up in between its legs backwards. We lost that one, but managed to get it out. Mom has been given penicillin and will continue to receive it. but, both baby and mom seem to be doing really well.
Brutal, though. I don't want to go through that again. And, with this her second year straight of this, I guess she'll be gone.
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Old 01/17/09, 08:30 AM
Ross's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Ontario
Posts: 13,055
Culling makes the flock.
Keep an open mind; but, double the guard for who you let in.
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Old 01/17/09, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Wisconsin
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Glad you were able to get the lambs out.

Your vet can give a hormone shot to help, but if there are other problems, ie. the lamb is not in the right position or the uterus is twisted, can cause more serious problems.
Massaging the uterus was a good choice.

Failure to dilate can be caused by several things.

Calcium is a biggie.
If the ewe is calcium deficient or the ratio of Calcium/Phosphorus is not just right in their ration, this can cause failure to dilate and contractions/labor not to progress.

Another nutritional issue might be a certain type of mold (not obvious to the eye), found in hay with clover. This can cause a hormonal imbalance which will also present the same problems.

Also, if the lambs are not presented in the correct position, ringwomb can also occur.

Just some thoughts, especially if this occurs again within the flock.

Is this ewe smaller in size than your others ?


Last edited by eieiomom; 01/17/09 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 01/17/09, 04:19 PM
Hawkfamily's Avatar  
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Location: BC, Canada
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Thanks Deb and Ross. I think we did the right thing, although the night took an entirely bad turn an hour after I posted. The ewe had a complete uterine prolapse that couldn't be fixed, and had to be put down at about 4 am this morning. It was our worst farming night ever. We got a few good colostrum feedings in for the (now bummer) lamb and milked mom before she went. We've tried today to graft her to another ewe who had a baby this week, but she isn't accepting her well, although she has let her eat once or twice while we're holding the ewe and we milked the ewe this morning for a feeding. The baby is doing very well. Is there anything else you would do for her, particularly considering she only got a few hours worth of colostrum rather than a couple of days? She's on lamb milk replacer now.
We increased that ewe's calcium this year after having the issue last year as that is what the vet suggested to us too. We've never had this problem with any other sheep in our flock, but I'm very curious about the whole hay/mold situation.
No, this ewe was one of our bigger Dorsets. She had two years of successful and easy lambing, and then last year and this year just went to hell.... Why do you ask about the size, Deb? I guess it can just be an individual genetic sort of issue, too.
I never dilated with my both of my kids and ended up with c-sections myself.

Thanks for being out there. You always respond to my issues, Deb. )
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Old 01/17/09, 04:55 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 825
Pitocin is usually used for humans to progress labor and cervical dilation. Had it with my first boy. 9+ pounder. All natural labor/delivery with the second he was a 10+ pounder.

I don't know that vets use pit on sheep. I have a feeling the lambs position may have had a bearing on this last lambing. Sorry for your loss.

The bummer should be ok with what it did get.
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Old 01/17/09, 06:35 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: BC, Canada
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Yeah, but while pitocin may help to progress contractions, it often does nothing for dilation. It's only even known to help about 5% of women (and who knows if they weren't already progressing anyway.) I had pitocin with my pregnancies too, and my dilation still stalled under 4. The last thing I wanted to do, too, was increase her contractions and labour while the cervix was still so closed. I had some pitocin here (from a miscarriage I had) last year when this happened and the vet (over the phone before their visit) advised against me using it on the ewe to help.
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Old 01/17/09, 07:11 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: South Central, Mo
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My grandfather use to put vinagar on babies. It was for pigs but wonder if it would work for sheep. Anyway you put a little vinagar on both babies and then the moms nose. She can't tell which one is hers so she will take them both. As I said it always worked on the pigs
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Old 01/17/09, 08:33 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Wisconsin
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Hi Jodi,

So sorry you lost your ewe.

Years ago I had a ewe that had a uterine prolapse. One of the worst things that has happened here.

The lamb should have 3 ounces of colostrum /per pound over a 12-18 hour period.

Have tried a variety of tricks suggested by others, i.e. vanilla, birthing fluids, Vicks etc...but haven't had much success with grafting lambs onto other ewes.

I forgot to mention that Selenium deficiency can also cause labor progression problems.

As far as Mycotoxin(mold) possibly being the cause, you can avoid clover hay or test your hay in future years. This is probably not realistic, nor an easy thing to do.
Now that it is close to lambing, think positive with hopes that this is an isolated incident.
You don't have to decide now, whether to cull your dear ewe or not.
If there are more issues with dystocia and progression of labor, you might consider (would check with your vet), giving ewes BOSE prior to labor and/or Calcium at the onset of labor.

Regarding my question of size.....
Ewes that are bred as lambs and may not have grown to their ideal size prior to breeding, can slow their lifetime growth down substancially. This may cause problems later on. Smaller ewes may also have more problems, if the lambs are large for their particular breed.

You are welcome, just wish I could be of more help


Last edited by eieiomom; 01/17/09 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 01/17/09, 11:50 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 825
Yep, you are right it's primarily used to increase uterine contractility as is calcium glucoonate(sp?). My problem was cervical not contractions! grin That's why I had it in my mind cervical effacement.

This relates to the dystocia labor. Malpresentation. The last pdf mentions that the exact cause of ring womb is unknown but selenium is mentioned to be a potential factor.

We raised one bottle babe that the ewe refused. She picked the one she wanted and that was that. He nursed at least once the first day and I found him crying and abandoned the next. He was raised on something Premier sells for colustrum replacement then switched to milk replacer. He outgrew his twin eventually.
Failure of the cervix to dilate, either due to a malpositioned fetus or hormone insufficiency, a ruptured uterus, or metabolic disorders (ketosis and milk fever) do not allow the doe to go into stage two and forceful contractions. These problems during the preparatory stage one are better understood in hindsight.

Causes of Dystocia
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Old 01/18/09, 11:46 AM
Hawkfamily's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 411
I'm definitely thinking this is an isolated incident with this one ewe, seeing as it was a repeat from last year, too, and we had no other issues with it. We've had one ewe lamb this week without one bit of assistance from us, which keeps me hopeful.
We did give this ewe a good shot of 120 cc of calcium at the onset of labour Friday night. Thanks so much for putting some time into this with me. I'm going to check out those links that you sent me, Shepmom.
With that ewe already gone now, I'm going to just remain hopeful about the rest of the lambing season here.
The only thing (other than the sweet baby girl in size 4 pampers in the basement watching Dora with my girls! lol) that I feel at peace with here is that we did it all right this time. In the past, some of our errors have been a lack of experience and knowledge. But, I believe we did okay the other night and that the circumstances were unique and about the worst case-scenario.
Things have to be better than this one, right?
Thanks ladies!!
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