sick sheep

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by sonya123, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    We have 4 lambs ( about 8 months) which we have had for 3 months. Until about a week ago they were in a small room in a woodshed at night and in the pasture during the day, and seemed to be healthy. We then divided our large goat barn in half and put the sheep in there. Now 2 of them are sick ( they have the runs, and one seems less energetic than usual) . The goats are all healthy. We did not change what we feed them other than we have several kinds of hay.
    Do you think it is possible the sheep picked up some sort of goat germ? Or did it cause them stress to move? I don't think they have worms ( eyelids are not pale).
    I have been given them Pepto Bismol , and goat electrolyte , and one seems better but the other one is still sick after 3 days. She is still eating some hay, but not much. Gave her some yoghurt today, not sure that was ok?

    Should I take it to a vet, or is that pointless? I hear a lot that most vets know nothing much about sheep or goats and most farmers would not take a sheep or goat to one. What would a vet do?

    Anything else I can do for this sheep?
     
  2. manolito

    manolito Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear you are having a problem. I would rush to get Storey's Guide to raising sheep.

    Without seeing the animals and checking some things it would be terrible for me to offer an answer. I think many Veterinarians are good at fixing sick animals. My problem is I have a $85.00 animal and a $200.00 call out fee to the vet.

    I offer to my new friends in sheep that the time is now to get a heart rate a respiration and the capillary refill of the gums rectal temperature write it down then you have some place to base your assessment when they get sick. The system in a ruminant is far different than ours just to keep in mind what works for us may not work for them. I monitor the water intake that is why I don't like automatic waterer's. Just a personal preference. There is a white scours and a yellow scours as well as several other things to look for. You mention the eye lid do you have a Famacha chart?

    Sorry I am not much help but the book will be a great help.

    Good Luck
    Respectfully,
    Bill
     
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  3. Rectifier

    Rectifier Well-Known Member

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    It is not good to keep sheep shut in a room. Sheep need lots of fresh air or they will be very vulnerable to respiratory illness. It is much better for sheep to be cold, than to be in a humid or stuffy environment.

    However, probably not the issue here. I would cram a B vitamin down their throats first of all, as it can't hurt. Human B50 will do and fits well in a balling gun. Describe the "runs". Soft stool, failing to pellet or is it outright dripping down the back end of the sheep (scours).

    As manolito asks, did you check the eye with the push/pull/pop technique from FAMACHA or just pull down the eyelid and check the membrane? If you use PPP you will get a much more repeatable result.
     
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  4. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    Not all parasites cause colorless membranes. I'd call my vet.
     
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  5. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    The sheep are in the barn only at night or if it is pouring down rain so they don't get eaten by coyotes and don't get sick from getting wet and cold. We have been doing this with the goats for about 6 months and they are fine. The barn gets cleaned regularly and is not humid and stinky, plus meant for a lot more animals than we have.

    Soft stool, but not running down their behinds. Looks like a cow patty

    Husband just left to take a stool sample to the vet. It is $15 to check it. Not sure exactly what all they check but for $15 it is worth a try.

    The sheep is not acting sick, she is eating and walking around. But looks like she has lost weight. The other one now has poop that is not pellets, but not as bad as it was. So maybe she is improving.

    And yeah, we have a FAMACHA card and took a class to learn how to use it properly with the ag extension office

    We rotate pastures frequently ( movable electric fencing) so they shouldn't get worms too much
     
  6. Rectifier

    Rectifier Well-Known Member

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    I quite regularly see some proportion of soft stool from my flock. Can be caused by anything from sneaking out to gorge on grain, to changing lots of hay or rotating pastures. In spring when turned out onto grass at first there will be sheep plops everywhere! I never worry about it unless it's actively runny. Scours are quite a different concern.

    If she has appetite and walks properly then likely it's a transient digestive upset.

    However, $15 well spent I say. I wish we had a vet willing to do anything for $15!

    Never look at a sheep for condition, always feel them. If you are really concerned, weigh them! The wool changes shape all the time. I've got thin sheep under big fluffy coats and fat sheep that look thin.
     
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  7. DragonFlyFarm

    DragonFlyFarm Well-Known Member

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    Good to get a fecal done. Do they have a temp? If it were coccidiosis they would have a temp and super runny poop, not just plops I would think. They could benefit from some probiotics and Jump Start. I don't worry too much if they have soft stool as long as they are bright eyed, energetic and eating normally. Being off feed and droopy, then I get a bit worried. Let us know what the vet says!
     
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  8. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    All the vet checked for was parasites, no parasites other than a minor amount of worms all animals have and not enough to deworm.
    Vet told husband to bring sheep in, if she stops eating and has no energy ($50) . Also told him if we change hay ( we sort of did, the goats like hay from our field, the sheep were eating some we purchased elsewhere, until we put them in the barn with the goats) we should do it gradually and that might be all. So we went back to only feeding the original hay to see if it works.
    We're about to go let them out and check on them, we'll see how much poop there is in the barn , I am getting tired of cleaning it every day :mad:
    The thing we are most worried about is that it is something contagious that will spread to the rest of them, or the goats. But the vet seemed to not have any suggestions for that...that is the reason we might spend more money on 1 sheep than it might be worth
     
  9. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    well, sheep is worse :( I don't know what to do and start feeling like a failure ....
    Our first sheep and we might lose one already. Uggh, how does one deal with this? I am not particularly attached to this sheep, it doesn't even have a name, but still....
    My worst fear is that it has something all the rest will catch, plus the goats and they will all die
    *sigh*
     
  10. Hiro

    Hiro Well-Known Member

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    Don't give up. Can you describe sheep is worse?

    It is not unusual during a particularly warm late winter for sheep to get looser fecal discharge and/or to eat less hay. The grass (at least in my part of VA) has broken dormancy. That means that it is high protein and high moisture, that disrupts their rumen. It is not necessarily a life threatening problem.

    The only other thing that comes to mind is make certain their CDT vaccinations are current.
     
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  11. Rectifier

    Rectifier Well-Known Member

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    Don't panic. It usually takes quite a bit for a sheep to die. In my experience sheep usually will only outright keel over for a fairly short list of reasons, roughly in order of occurrence on my farm:

    - Mineral deficiency. Hypocalcemia/magnesemia or white muscle (selenium). We need cobalt here as well, though it has never killed.
    - body condition hits zero
    - fatal disease (clostridial, tetanus etc) of the sort prevented by 8-way vaccines. Usually this is only lambs for us.
    - heat stress / dehydration
    - bloat
    - catastrophic infection from injury, though sheep are tough


    It doesn't sound like any of these will happen any time soon. Is she thin? Like, condition 1 thin?

    I just thought of this. Do they have access to goat minerals? Goat minerals usually contain too much copper for sheep, and they will sicken rapidly and die. A neighbour lost 1/4 of his flock a few years back to mis-bagged cattle mineral. Sheep are very, very sensitive to copper toxicity.
     
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  12. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    Sheep is still up eating hay, drinking, walking around, but STILL poopy butt...uggh!

    No change

    I looked at like 10 websites last night for sheep diseases, and nothing really fits. Maybe it is just the grass

    And no, the sheep do not have access to the goat minerals. The goats have a goat block and the sheep a sheep block.

    The others seem to be ok, so maybe it isn't anything contagious. Nothing wrong with the goats other than they're pushy:) Goat billy ( not even a year yet) tried to headbutt me down the pasture today. I think I was in his way to the pellets in the tray we put out for them to get them to go in the fencing...
     
  13. odieclark

    odieclark Well-Known Member

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    Not sure on what you may be experiencing
    I think I read this thread, so I apologize if you already answered

    -did and have you been taking her temp?
    -does she seem to not be eating/or eating as much?
    -has she switched feed or hay?
    -has the weather changed? Colder, snow, lots of rain?
    -has she been under stress? Moving, etc? Sheep are very frightened and changes should be gradual

    We had a goat who likely went off feed, long story, but gave b shots to encourage eating and rebuild rumen with pro bios-might help?

    Has she had her CDT shots?
    Has she had moldy hay?

    Keep us posted
     
  14. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    Update: I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier, but I asked 2 very knowlegable sheep farmers we know here ( one is the guy we bought them from) and they both independently decided that it must be Coccidia. So today one of them actually came and helped us shove a very large calf bolus down her throat ( since we did not have the right equipment and they don't sell it here) , Sustain III. We will see if this works! But he has many sheep and been doing this for long time, so this is probably going to fix the problem. We have such great people living in our area!! I just love Virginia :)
     
  15. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    Sheep is better! So it worked. Hope this info helps someone else in the future since the information I found online and in some books didn't really match what was wrong with the sheep. It did not have bloody diarrea, and the sample I took to the vet did not test positive for Coccidia, plus ,most online info says that "usually young lambs get this" and ours are not that young. But the medication fixed it, so that must have been it.
     
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  16. Rectifier

    Rectifier Well-Known Member

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    Congrats! We never have issues with coccidia as we feed pelleted creep to our young lambs. And yeah, not common in grown ewes. It's usually caused by dirty conditions.

    A bolus we use in young lambs is Scour-plug. It has the same active ingredient (sulfa) and isn't that big. You should pick up a balling gun, they are dirt cheap and useful for all manner of pills.
     
  17. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    OMG!! Sheep IS NOT better, diarreah came back....we are going to take it to the vet tomorrow :(
     
  18. sonya123

    sonya123 Active Member

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    Well, that would explain why it didn't work...we do NOT have dirty conditions. Our animals are treated more like pets than livestock...
    plus it is older.
     
  19. Hiro

    Hiro Well-Known Member

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    I hope it works out for you. Unless it is excessive scours, it really isn't a dangerous condition. Is it still eating, staying with the other sheep, is it lethargic?

    You obviously want to do what is best for the sheep, but unless it is in really poor shape or deteriorating it might be better to take a wait and see approach. I cannot make decisions like this for anyone else, but unless it has quit eating, quit staying with the flock or is acting very lethargic OR I can diagnose the problem, we wait and see.

    Best of luck!
     
  20. gishpar

    gishpar Member

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    My vet gives me Lixotonic to give to my sick sheep and it works wonders as he first gave it to me to give to my cat and brought back from death.