Downer Ewe

Lizzy733

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Well, we've only been on our new block for a little under a week and already seeing some issues with the resident ewes.

While walking out to the paddock today with some friends, we noticed one of the sheep appeared to have a limp, so we decided to use numbers and drive them into the yard for a closer inspection. During this, we noticed there may be a second one limping as well, but the first veered off from the flock and made to move deeper into the main paddock (which is quite large).

Well, I caught up to her rather quickly - she made one attempt at evasion and then gave up - didn't even end up needing the sheep hook. I managed to get her on her rump (my first time doing so) and checked her over. Her hooves were moderately overgrown and quite soft and spongy - we are brand new to sheep and wouldn't have them if they hadn't come with the land - so I am not sure what texture is normal for them. Would there be a smell associated with hoof rot, or any other way to confirm? I didn't like how soft they were at all and will definitely be giving them all a check and a trim soon.

Anyway, I popped her back down and she would 'not' get up. She was breathing in slow and heavy pants and there was occasional gurgling from her gut which I'm unsure is normal rumen movement or signs of an issue like bloat. She seemed a bit gassy, burping and such. Her ears were also quite scabby looking. I had a look at the base of her wool (they are due for a shear) and did not see any parasites on the back and shoulder blades. From my limited experience, her body condition seemed ok, but her eyelid seemed pale (though I'm not very familiar with famacha scoring and could be wrong).

After much coaxing and allowing her to rest, I did get her back up on her feet and was able to slowly coax her up the hill with much pushing from behind and steering with my hip. it was very slow going and by the time I got her to the yard with the rest, she wanted to do little more than to stand where I left her with her head down and panting.

A few other notes of her overall condition - I had a look at her teeth - I think she's one of the 4 toothers. I have no idea if she has a lamb - we have 10 ewes and 7 lambs of varying age and since we're new and the previous farmer did not keep records, I have no idea whose is whose or how old the lambs are other than nearing weaning. The old farmer was not supplementing them - they have free run of a very large paddock which makes up the largest portion of our farm. The new lambs appear to be docked, but the adults are not. Some are quite daggy - fortunately, our downer ewe does not appear to be one of them. I've turned them out into the smaller paddock connecting to the yard as we need to get someone in to shear them anyway (grass there is a bit shorter though, so not sure how good an idea that is, but any suggestions on what we should do with this girl? We do intend to downsize the flock quite drastically as it's too big for us, as newbs to handle. We have a butcher friend in Auckland who will be able to come up from the 15th who is keen to help us with butchering, so might just add this one to that list - if it's condition is not urgent.

Given a bit of time in the yard, it started to show a bit more strength.

I was hoping to have a bit more time to get on top of these things, do proper soil testing and get them on a schedule from the vet's office, get set up with a herd manager, but it's less than a week in and money's a little tight as we just bought this place and have been having to pay here and there to fix up what we can ... was hoping to have a little more time before something like this cropped up. We'd been going down with a small bucket of sheep nut every other day or so - there are a few white ewes and one always seemed to be gutsing them, so might be her, but it was less than a cup shared between both the ram pen and the ewe\lamb pen so wouldn't 'think' that would be enough to off-balance their diet. The wether has also been gutsing nut and I haven't noticed any issues with him.

What do you guys think? Vitamin issues? Parasites? Obviously overgrown hooves, but hoof rot? And considering my timelines for wanting to shear, cull, and sell off most of the flock, what should I do? We only have a pellet gun and no gun license yet - no captive bolt gun yet either. Does this require urgent vet assistance, or any medication\supplementation on my part? The vet office was closed other than emergencies, otherwise I would have called them up, but also unsure if it is an emergency as such. I think I'd be okay giving injections... I've done subcutaneous in birds and have access to syringes,18 gauge and 22 needles if needed. (somewhere in the boxes to be unpacked).

Thanks in advance for helping us greenhorns with a problem, but can't stand mismanaged animals and we just aren't knowledgeable enough at this stage to not do it without assistance.
 

Alaskan

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Sorry.... so snowy... haven't been on...

so I am not sure what texture is normal for them
If the grass is perpetually wet it can soften the hooves. Some times of year it is difficult to give them any place dry to stand... but if they could have a dry spot to stand that would help.

When the hooves get soft they are more prone to get rot of one kind or another.

Not sure what kinds of products you have.

But I have had excellent success with this product line.

SmartSelect_20210808-153257_Samsung Internet.jpg


From my limited experience, her body condition seemed ok, but her eyelid seemed pale

Pale is pale... I would see if you can take a fecal sample to the vet.... OR maybe the vet will say it doesn't matter what they have.. use X dewormer.

And I would worm the entire flock.

What do you guys think? Vitamin issues? Parasites? Obviously overgrown hooves, but hoof rot?
Hoof rot.... if the ground is dry and the hoof is soft, then yes..

If the ground has been perpetually wet... then maybe hooves just need to be trimmed..

I am sure since they aren't rotated much that they are FULL of parasites. So maybe do a fecal/vet exam to see which ones you are dealing with... or say "chuck it" and just worm them.

I would look up what vitamins need to be supplimented in your area. Most places with loads of rain are low in many minerals.. So, figure out what the standard is for your area... and yes, give the entire flock vitamins (not sure if they would need pills, a loose minerals feeder,shots... )



And considering my timelines for wanting to shear, cull, and sell off most of the flock, what should I do?

I would deworm everyone, and have an iron paste to give to the super pale/iffy looking ones. Being anemic can make them look close to death. The iron paste can help in those cases.

Now... there is a slight risk, if they are packed with worms and you deworm with a strong dewormer that the sudden die off of a huge worm load could cause problems.

Maybe the vet will talk to you over the phone and suggest the best wormer and dose to start with.

You can sheer healthy, sick or even dead sheep. So... keep the sheer schedule, and what you have when they show up is what you have.

Since they are doing poorly, you are stuck with butchering them or selling to a person who knows they are sub-par.

But.... I wouldn't think through who to cull or keep...until after you worm the flock, trim all hooves, and give them what vitamins or minerals they need.
 

Lizzy733

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Thanks for that,

I spoke with the vet office yesterday to get us enrolled for farm visits and they recommended having the shearer assess her and suggested possibly barber pole worm.

He came by yesterday evening. One girl had a small spot of hoof rot which we sprayed down with copper after trimming her up. The uncooperative ewes ended up with a few cuts, but none too worse for wear. They are quite vocal this morning though.

Our anaemic girl got through her shearing, but never made it back on her feet and passes shortly after before we had the chance to deworm (we had some matrix drench in the storeroom we were about to measure up for her).

It was late, but we gutted and skinned her last night and she appeared to have acites. - lots of transudate fluid in the abdominal cavity.

First time gutting a sheep, but the liver seemed quite big - no frame of reference as to whether that's normal. We've saved it back, but not sure if it'd be okay to eat. Any thoughts on this?

We plan to put her on a spit in about a week. Have her hanging to dry out at the moment.

We really are getting rushed into things here - so unprepared for sorting a carcass at sundown, but it's done and sorted now.
 

Alaskan

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Thanks for that,

I spoke with the vet office yesterday to get us enrolled for farm visits and they recommended having the shearer assess her and suggested possibly barber pole worm.

He came by yesterday evening. One girl had a small spot of hoof rot which we sprayed down with copper after trimming her up. The uncooperative ewes ended up with a few cuts, but none too worse for wear. They are quite vocal this morning though.

Our anaemic girl got through her shearing, but never made it back on her feet and passes shortly after before we had the chance to deworm (we had some matrix drench in the storeroom we were about to measure up for her).

It was late, but we gutted and skinned her last night and she appeared to have acites. - lots of transudate fluid in the abdominal cavity.

First time gutting a sheep, but the liver seemed quite big - no frame of reference as to whether that's normal. We've saved it back, but not sure if it'd be okay to eat. Any thoughts on this?

We plan to put her on a spit in about a week. Have her hanging to dry out at the moment.

We really are getting rushed into things here - so unprepared for sorting a carcass at sundown, but it's done and sorted now.
I wouldn't eat her liver... but her meat will be good.

You sure did get tossed into the deep end of the pool!
 

Lizzy733

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I wouldn't eat her liver... but her meat will be good.

You sure did get tossed into the deep end of the pool!
I know! Only a week in too.

Looks like they're quite behind on maintenance, but will get that sorted out. Now just worried my orchard fence may not hold the two kune kune piglets I'm picking up on the 15th.

It's 8 wire post and batten.

I'd go all electric, but the boundary fence is heavily planted with flax on our side and I know vegetation + hot wire don't really work.
 

Margali

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I'd go all electric, but the boundary fence is heavily planted with flax on our side and I know vegetation + hot wire don't really work.
Does the flax stay flattened if you trample it? That's what I did to instal my electric. I trampled back and forth on fence path several times before setting the plastic posts and wire. I've also seen this method used by Shepardess and Greg Judy on youtube.
 

Cotton*wood

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I know this isn't really relevant to all the issues you've had to address, but the gurgling and burping is all absolutely normal. It's their rumen working......

And WOW--what a lot to have to deal with all at once!
 

Lizzy733

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Does the flax stay flattened if you trample it? That's what I did to instal my electric. I trampled back and forth on fence path several times before setting the plastic posts and wire. I've also seen this method used by Shepardess and Greg Judy on youtube.
It's native harakeke and well established. Not a pest plant and serves as a windbreak and privacy fence, so we do want it there.

I've decided I'll try an invisible fence with shock collars - the wire transmits a radio signal to the collar which delivers the shock, so the harakeke becomes a non-issue. - made for dogs, but there are reports of it working for pigs and goats so... we'll see. They're already hot-wire trained so hopefully not much of a learning curve for them.

That on top of the physical fence should hopefully do. It's a sturdy post and batten with 8 wires, nicely tensioned and closely spaced low to the ground. And the paddock is around 1/3 acre if my boundary app can be believed, though google's pics are sorely out of date and missing the fencing.

They'll probably be mostly in the house for the first few weeks, honestly. Now that I've kicked the turkey poults out (which function as one puppy following me around) during the day, they can take over. At least kune kune can be potty trained.
 

Lizzy733

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I know this isn't really relevant to all the issues you've had to address, but the gurgling and burping is all absolutely normal. It's their rumen working......

And WOW--what a lot to have to deal with all at once!
Thought it might be... Seemed a minute or so in between. Least I was able to pick out the ill pretty quickly and she didn't die out in the field.

Will have to conscript my husband to do some holding while I trim everyone's toes this weekend and give them all a copper spray for good measure.

Also want to check their shearing cuts. Some got it pretty bad at the time, but I've seen them out and about in the big pasture acting normally so they can't be too worse for wear. They were pretty upset that evening and yesterday, but have settled down again today.
 

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