Maiden Ewe with uneven/drooping udder...?

shepherdO

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I have a ~5 year old rambouillet-suffolk ewe who has a strange udder condition - the left side droops down, and doesn't look at all like an unbred ewe's udder. She is not, and has not ever been bred according to her previous owner. She resembles a hippopotamus, and from what I've read online overweight ewes can often have fatty deposits in their udders.

I've also read that suspensory ligaments can go as sheep get older - I just find this odd that at 5 years old, and not having been previously bred or had lambs, that this would occur.

Has anyone seen anything like this before? Age aside (that's another question I'm asking!) would you breed a ewe with an udder like this?

I will try to attach a couple pictures that give an idea of the udder structure - teats look fine.
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mysunwolf

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Feel it to make sure there isn't a lump in there. You never know what a filled udder will look like until it fills. When it's collapsed, it can take on a lot of odd shapes.

And to add, I personally wouldn't breed a 5 yr old for the first time, I think you'd be asking for trouble and complications.
 

shepherdO

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Feel it to make sure there isn't a lump in there. You never know what a filled udder will look like until it fills. When it's collapsed, it can take on a lot of odd shapes.

And to add, I personally wouldn't breed a 5 yr old for the first time, I think you'd be asking for trouble and complications.
Hi mysunwolf,

Thanks for the advice. Do you have specific reasons why it's not a good idea? I've heard things like:
* more trouble lambing
* more issues with mothering

Is there anything else? I've bred an older goat before (I think 4 years old?) and she had twins no problem.

What age would you suggest is the latest you'd go for a maiden ewe - is there a 'rule of thumb' I should be keeping in mind as I enter the sheep world?

Has anyone had success stories breeding an older ewe?

Thanks for your help!
 

mysunwolf

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I would put 5 as the max age. I like to breed them before 2, and honestly have never waited any longer. I've heard some success with breeding up to about 4 years.

As a rule, mothering is better when you breed older ewes, depending on their genetics. A young ewe might be a bad mother her first time, but she *might* get better the next year. Older girls are often the kind of mother they will always be right away, even if it's their first time, IME.

What you do have to worry about is over-feeding and making the lambs too big, an issue with all sheep but especially very small ewe lambs and older maiden ewes. Older maiden ewes generally have a smaller, less stretchy opening as time goes on.

You also have more health issues if you wait until they're older. This includes metabolic issues like ketosis, milk fever, acidosis, etc. As well as plain old nutrition once they lamb, though your ewes don't seem to be struggling! In general with the older girls, we also see more immune issues come up (often respiratory), foot issues (immune + carrying too much weight on old bones), higher need for nutrition but not protein or energy (hard to fix with a lot of sheep, which shouldn't be an issue for you), and more udder issues (lumps, mastitis). But if they have lambed early in life, we at least see fewer lambing complications as they age.

Hope that helps some. Your stock might be of the kind that has a 10 year production span, which would mean breeding them at 5 might not be so bad. But if they have a 7 year production span, 5 is pushing it.
 

Goat Whisperer

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I don’t have sheep but do own goats. It looks like she could have a precocious udder. Nearly all our dry yearlings will get a precocious udder. You often see this in high production animals that are on a rich diet.
Some of our meat goat does would get it too, along with a few bucks.
 

shepherdO

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mysunwolf -

Thanks for the information - I hadn't thought about things like weight on old bones :) I think that's probably another reason I should be getting her/them to lose some weight!

If I do decide to breed them, my young ram is a Shrophsire cross who comes from medium-size genetics; some have commented that ram size is something to consider as well, in general of course.
 

shepherdO

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I don’t have sheep but do own goats. It looks like she could have a precocious udder. Nearly all our dry yearlings will get a precocious udder. You often see this in high production animals that are on a rich diet.
Some of our meat goat does would get it too, along with a few bucks.

Thanks for the info - I've been googling it under things like 'drooping udder', 'saggy udder', 'suspensory ligaments' etc., and most searched end up returning information re: pregnant/nursing animals.
 

shepherdO

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Sounds like 'precocious udder' is similar in idea to a false pregnancy? I don't think this ewe has any milk... her previous owner says it's always been like, or at least as long as she can remember, and that she's always been overweight due to being spoiled. Super friendly ewe, loved being scratched, etc.
 

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