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Is this sheep bloat / acidosis?

1062 Views 21 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Pony
I am still fairly new to sheep so would appreciate any insight.

I have a small flock of sheep and recently moved them to a new pasture (3 days ago). They had previously been receiving mostly hay with access to a small amount of grass and I would feed them about 0.75-1 lb of grain each in the morning. Since moving them, I had increased the grain slightly - just a small amount at night to help corral them into the barn. Everyone had been doing fine.

This morning, though, one of my more friendly sheep was acting... off? She usually baas at us and runs to greet us when we approach the paddock and she also tends to bully the other sheep for their grain (each sheep has their own bucket for the grain to try to make sure everyone gets their fair share and i am also terrified of bloat/acidosis). But this morning, she was completely uninterested in the grain and went straight for the water after being released from the barn. Even after drinking a good amount, she was uninterested in the grain. Which actually, while the flock tends to fight over the last bit of the grain, so far today, no one has finished the grain.

She does not look or feel bloated to my inexperienced hands. No signs of anemia that i can tell. Her eyes just look like she is a little out of it (half closed and somewhat distanced). She usually is a little more distant from the flock but has been moving with them closer than she normally does. She isn't listless, she is lying down but she will also get up and sort of trot away with the flock if they're moving, but didn't approach me like she normally does. She's been like this for 12 hours now without much change (for the good or for the worse).

Am I overthinking things? Or should I try doing something? Or should I just wait til the morning and see if this is just an off day?
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You need to make a list of all the plants in the pasture and figure out which one the goats aren't doing well with, I think. That's my first guess.
What kind of grass? Forbs? Weeds? Tree leaves they may have been eating?
That is a good point. Its an older pasture so it is mostly orchard grass, alfalfa, and clover but since it hasn't been used for awhile, i'm not completely sure what else has made its way in there. No trees but I'll have to take a look around.
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Also the sudden change over to grass from hay might cause so.e runny poo type of reactions, doubt it would make them as sick as you describe but it's possible.
There has been some runny poo -- well more loose than runny. Nothing like scours or anything. This particular sheep's poo seems less runny than some of the others though.
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Yup. Transitioning from hay to green grazing is a shock to any ruminant's digestion. Increasing the grain may not have been the best idea.

I know that some feed stores have bloat blocks for animals.
I didn't want to, but its the only way that I have to get them to go where i want them currently. I didnt' think that it was that much extra grain but I'll see if i can figure something else out.
But i didn't know about a bloat block! That would be awesome, thank you!
If you're really worried about bloat you could give them a little baking soda (if you aren't already). But it's more than likely it had something to do with the new pasture you put them on.
I had read about doing a drench but I didn't want to stress her out more, especially if it didn't seem like she needed it. But I might go ahead with it because i dont want things getting worse. Or maybe try free choice baking soda?
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Sudden changes aren't generally good for animals. You could have either roped off small sections, plucked some of the good stuff to dole out while they were contained, limited their grazing, etc. Offering free choice baking soda is something we do, comes in bulk at the feed store and lasts a long time.

It might be less of an issue for adults, but keep an eye out for coccidiosis just in case too.
You have a good point. Hindsight is 20/20, i wish i had done any of those things.

Edit: Or i guess I wish that I had considered making the change easier for them. They had been in a small paddock so were grazing on similar pasture, I just assumed it wasn't enough for them and that they ate more hay than the grass - due to the size of the paddock. So it wasn't like they were on hay and grain only. I felt like all i did was move them to a bigger pasture. So for more info: I have 6 sheep. They were on 0.25 acres of pasture previously to moving them. The pasture I moved them onto an acre of land with similar pasture (same grasses forage etc). What should I have done differently? I just want to understand so I don't find myself in a similar situation.

Should I have roped off small sections first? If i did, it would have mimicked what they were in before but I can also see how this could help. And if so, when should I have let them out into the rest of the acre?

Would doling out some of the new pasture be better even if what they had been eating was similar? I can see that there could be changes and that this may have helped.

Just trying to learn :) I appreciate all the responses. Thank you!

How much baking soda do you usually offer free choice?

Other than diarrhea, are there other things to look out for with coccidiosis? Is the diarrhea distinctly different than like the runny poo from eating more grass now?
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How is she doing today?
@VincentVanGoat, please let us know how your ewe is doing.

Sorry some things came up yesterday and I couldn't respond.

But yesterday she was doing well. Two nights ago (the night I posted), i did put some water in the barn with some baking soda in it so that if they drank any that it would hopefully help. Im not sure if anyone did. When I went out in the morning, she seemed maybe 50% of her normal self. Eyes still slightly distant and some baaing at me but didn't come up to me like she normally does. I did feed them some more grain but i mixed some baking soda into the grain (read it on another post somewhere here) to try to help everyone. The sheep that wasn't doing well did go up to the grain but didnt eat any and walked away. I made sure to put out some hay for them too so that they would have free choice of that instead of the pasture if they wanted.

This morning she is probably 75%. Higher energy, baaing, came up to me, interested in the grain again. Eyes still a little distant looking and she has some very mild signs of scours (rear end being kinda mucky but i haven't seen any real loose stools and no mucus or blood in any that i've seen) but i'm hoping this will improve with time. Though good point on watching for coccidiosis too.
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I would look out for urinary calculus to , purchasing ammonium chloride wouldn’t hurt to put in their grain . It will prevent and help break down any crystals or stones forming . Just another input :) . But yes such a sudden switch isn’t good for them.
What sort of things make you think urinary calculi? I appreciate the input, I will have to look into it.
To much grain can cause it
Oh i had no idea. Thank you
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I've not had an issue with urinary calculi, haven't heard of it in females.

I think that she probably has a gut issue, and she just needs to get things moving through - and it sounds like she's made some progress, however messy, in that department.

If it were my gal, I'd hold off on grain for a couple or three days, keep her on hay and water only, and then, if you feel she needs the grain, reintroduce slowly.

Glad to read that she's improving! Thanks so much for updating us. :)
Is the amount of grain I'm feeding too much? I know that technically they don't necessarily need it. We've gotten them recently (maybe 4-6 weeks ago) and they've looked underweight* so that is why I have been keeping up with the grain. I've been hoping that getting them to a better pasture would be helpful in the weight department. But I didn't give them any grain today and I can hold off for another day or two, probably won't hurt.

*Underweight as in can feel pelvic bones easily and kind of sunken in around the pelvic area -- reminds me a little bit of a jersey cow look. Not emaciated or anything and cant feel ribs or anything like that. They are supposedly Awassi sheep and im not sure if this is just how the breed is. Just hard for me to tell with how the wool is coming in too.
Just reading now about the body condition score and would guess that they're 2.0-3.0.
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