Ewes losing weight

ljw

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
15
Points
31
I have 5 St Croix ewes that lambed in early September. 2 months later they are down ~ 5lbs from Oct 2nd weight. Two are very boney along back and hips. Almost all poop is ball with some exception. I have separated two ewes with their lambs lambs to try to identify healthy poopers. All have pink around eyes
All ewes were born in Dec 20-Feb21.
4 of of the 5 had twins and the 5th a single. The single lamb momma has lost weight but is full through hip area.
We are first time sheep people with limited experience. We do daily rotation of the flock which is now up to 16. I have the ram and a weather separate.
So question.
Is it normal for ewes to lose weight and seem boney around hips two months after birthing.

Thanks
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
8,063
Reaction score
28,850
Points
708
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
No, they should not be losing weight like that. They are most likely wormy and if you do not worm them soon,. there is a possibility of losing them. The lambs pull them down some, but proper nutrition should keep their weight up.
First look at their gums and see if they are pale. If so it is almost a guarantee they are wormy. If you do not have a vet close that you can take fecal samples to, then worm them with any over the counter worming product just to get them started on the road to cutting the worm infestation.
Barber pole worm is the most common and it will literally suck them dry and kill them.
If they are wormy, and making a good amount of milk for the lambs, that is why the one with the single is not as thin as the ones with the twins.

You need to have a vet do fecal samples which will determine a worm count, and may be able to tell you what kind of worms.
Where are you located? The general area ( like Ga or Wisconsin or California or wherever) will also help others to help you to determine the possible types of worms and different protocol for worming.
Rotation is good for HELPING to reduce exposure to parasites... it is not going to solve all the problems. Lambing is a stressful time for any sheep and with stress, comes decreased immunity.. and they often will show a worm increase after that.
 

ljw

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
15
Points
31
No, they should not be losing weight like that. They are most likely wormy and if you do not worm them soon,. there is a possibility of losing them. The lambs pull them down some, but proper nutrition should keep their weight up.
First look at their gums and see if they are pale. If so it is almost a guarantee they are wormy. If you do not have a vet close that you can take fecal samples to, then worm them with any over the counter worming product just to get them started on the road to cutting the worm infestation.
Barber pole worm is the most common and it will literally suck them dry and kill them.
If they are wormy, and making a good amount of milk for the lambs, that is why the one with the single is not as thin as the ones with the twins.

You need to have a vet do fecal samples which will determine a worm count, and may be able to tell you what kind of worms.
Where are you located? The general area ( like Ga or Wisconsin or California or wherever) will also help others to help you to determine the possible types of worms and different protocol for worming.
Rotation is good for HELPING to reduce exposure to parasites... it is not going to solve all the problems. Lambing is a stressful time for any sheep and with stress, comes decreased immunity.. and they often will show a worm increase after that.
Thanks. We are in Northern VA. Waiting on our vet to return call. Will check gums.
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
27,587
Reaction score
74,721
Points
853
Location
East Texas
Lambing and weaning are stress periods for ewes. Weaning is a stress period for lambs too. Worm according to weight. Worm again 10 days later. Wait 10 days and take another fecal sample.

Do you have a chute to run them through? If not, a couple of cow panels with pallets at both ends beat nothing. Put on latex or nitrile glove, insert 2 fingers in rectum and try to get 6 pellets. Turn glove inside out, with Sharpie write ewes name or number on it. Place gloves in gallon ziplock bag. Refrigerate until you take samples to the vet. You can pick up fecal samples off ground immediately after ewes poop, but samples can be contaminated by the ground.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
4,260
Reaction score
12,722
Points
553
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
Immediately after lambing any parasite load (and all sheep have some parasite load) doubles. The best time to control parasites is to worm them immediately after they lamb. If you keep them confined with their lambs (in jugs) you should worm again before turning them into the flock. This helps the ewes maintain condition,

After lambing, lactating ewes can lose some condition (weight) depending on their feed. Lactation pulls fat and minerals from the ewes, and they may need additional supplement. Try separating the ewes that have lambed into one pasture or pen and put them on some supplement feed. We use rolled barleycorn instead of an expensive grower ration for our White Dorpers. If the ewes have a heavy worm load it will be difficult to keep their body condition while feeding lambs.

What type of pasture are they grazing? Poor pasture can maintain rams and open ewes, but heavily pregnant and lactating ewes need better pasture. Rotational grazing is a good way to control parasites but will not completely eradicate parasites.

What is the size of the pastures the sheep are in? Do they graze it completely before you rotate them? How many pastures are you using? How soon do the sheep return to the starting pasture? The flock needs to be off the pasture for several weeks minimum to avoid reinfecting with the worm eggs they shed. They need to be off the pasture for several months to allow the grass to regrow. To avoid worm infection with Barber Pole the pasture grass height must be at least 4" tall.

I would definitely worm the ewes with lambs, and if they have been grazing with the entire flock, the entire flock will need to be wormed. You need to know what type of worms they have since not all wormers kill all varieties. The vet will need to do a fecal check. You can obtain the samples yourself if your vet doesn't do farm calls. Don't let him diagnose over the phone without doing fecals on the samples. Confine ewes with the lambs. Put on a new plastic glove, stick a finger into the rectum and pull out some poop. Place the sample in a small Ziploc bag, seal, and mark it with the ewe's tag number. Take samples from the ewes with lambs since they are the ones showing the signs. You will need a sample from each ewe, don't worry about the lambs at this point. Deliver the samples to the vet for a lab check. Use a new glove and new bag for each sheep. The vet should be able to identify the worm variety and tell you what wormer to use.

BTW, the sheep won't like this so be sure they are confined or tightly held. A second person is needed for this sample collecting.
 

ljw

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
15
Points
31
Immediately after lambing any parasite load (and all sheep have some parasite load) doubles. The best time to control parasites is to worm them immediately after they lamb. If you keep them confined with their lambs (in jugs) you should worm again before turning them into the flock. This helps the ewes maintain condition,

After lambing, lactating ewes can lose some condition (weight) depending on their feed. Lactation pulls fat and minerals from the ewes, and they may need additional supplement. Try separating the ewes that have lambed into one pasture or pen and put them on some supplement feed. We use rolled barleycorn instead of an expensive grower ration for our White Dorpers. If the ewes have a heavy worm load it will be difficult to keep their body condition while feeding lambs.

What type of pasture are they grazing? Poor pasture can maintain rams and open ewes, but heavily pregnant and lactating ewes need better pasture. Rotational grazing is a good way to control parasites but will not completely eradicate parasites.

What is the size of the pastures the sheep are in? Do they graze it completely before you rotate them? How many pastures are you using? How soon do the sheep return to the starting pasture? The flock needs to be off the pasture for several weeks minimum to avoid reinfecting with the worm eggs they shed. They need to be off the pasture for several months to allow the grass to regrow. To avoid worm infection with Barber Pole the pasture grass height must be at least 4" tall.

I would definitely worm the ewes with lambs, and if they have been grazing with the entire flock, the entire flock will need to be wormed. You need to know what type of worms they have since not all wormers kill all varieties. The vet will need to do a fecal check. You can obtain the samples yourself if your vet doesn't do farm calls. Don't let him diagnose over the phone without doing fecals on the samples. Confine ewes with the lambs. Put on a new plastic glove, stick a finger into the rectum and pull out some poop. Place the sample in a small Ziploc bag, seal, and mark it with the ewe's tag number. Take samples from the ewes with lambs since they are the ones showing the signs. You will need a sample from each ewe, don't worry about the lambs at this point. Deliver the samples to the vet for a lab check. Use a new glove and new bag for each sheep. The vet should be able to identify the worm variety and tell you what wormer to use.

BTW, the sheep won't like this so be sure they are confined or tightly held. A second person is needed for this sample collecting.
Main pasture is 3.5 acres and we partition off for daily rotation. Pasture is healthy(at least I have been told so by local ag agent and he was envious) it takes 6 weeks to rotate through. We have two additional smaller paddocks 2acre and 1 acre that I will include with rotation during the winter. I give them larger areas and move every two days.
We do have a chute system with spinner so we will be able to confine to get samples.
We are getting the vet involved. She will come out to the farm.
Thanks
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
8,063
Reaction score
28,850
Points
708
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
Okay, been a week since we heard from you. How are the sheep doing? Did you get a vet and what was the diagnosis? An update would be much appreciated so that all can learn...
Have a nice turkey day....
 

ljw

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
15
Points
31
Okay, been a week since we heard from you. How are the sheep doing? Did you get a vet and what was the diagnosis? An update would be much appreciated so that all can learn...
Have a nice turkey day....
Took samples to vet. Everything looks great. Plan on weighing them this weekend. Then separate the lambs. Will keep supplementing with grain and alfalfa pellets. Thanks for asking.
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
8,063
Reaction score
28,850
Points
708
Location
Shenandoah Valley Virginia
So, I am taking it that they do not have worms? Which is a good thing to rule out.... BUT......Were they just needing more to eat than you realized, and not getting enough nutrition from the grazing? Maybe the type of grass they are eating is not supplying their needs as lactating animals. If you have alot of fescue in the pasture, that could be part of the problem. It does not supply the needs of a lactating animal very well. Looks great, and is good stockpiled for fall/winter grazing... but works best for steers.... and after a frost bred cows can utilize it.
I am not a fan of fescue..... too much abortion problem in our cattle in early pregnancy; causes too much heat and some feet problems... founder even.....until after frost and the starches turn to sugars and it is much more palatable.
Hope the supplementing will turn around their weight and have them start to gain back.
Glad you got a vet's advice as they will look right at them and be able to help better than we can sight unseen. :thumbsup Here's to them getting back on track....and for you being a responsible first time owner and asking for help... rather than make them suffer and you muddle through it. It is a pleasure to have a "newbie" that really does put the animals care first.
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
27,587
Reaction score
74,721
Points
853
Location
East Texas
Well said @farmerjan. It is a pleasure to have @ljw here with us. Raising livestock isn’t as easy as it looks and you truly put the health and well being of your animals as the top priority. It’s a learning process and none of know it all. I’m glad they are doing better.
Just so you know, we love pictures and feel free to post lots of them!
 
Top