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Pregnant Ewe With Diarrhea

Discussion in 'Diseases & Injuries - Sheep' started by RebeccaL, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. Aug 28, 2019
    RebeccaL

    RebeccaL Herd lurker

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    I am watching a four year old St. Croix ewe with her first pregnancy for my landmate who is out of town (and out of all cell phone range) for the next week and a half. The ewe has been doing great up until three days ago; I was out of town until yesterday but my other landmate who was watching the animals while I was gone said that she started becoming listless, less interested in food, occasionally straining in short, heaving bursts rather than one long strain. The back of her udder is covered in poop, though her vulva looks normal. She's pretty far along in her pregnancy but her udder hasn't bagged up yet so she doesn't seem like she's ready to lamb just yet.

    Today I've seen her graze and drink a little, but she won't come in for the grain and alfalfa pellets that the flock normally goes crazy over, and if I try to hand feed her she refuses it. Mostly she just stands around with her head down or slowly grazes around the pasture. I went to check on her after I saw her straining again, and all she passed was one little "bean" of poop. I only smelled manure on her back end, and it doesn't look like her water's broken, nor does she smell like the sort of rot I'd expect with a dead lamb.

    The flock hasn't had any new food lately; they always have a full feeder of hay, plus access to a pasture (which is pretty dry right now), plus they each get about 3 cups of alfalfa pellets and 1 cup of grain a day; the only recent change is an increase in the alfalfa a couple of weeks ago.

    Any suggestions on what's going on and how I might be able to help her?
     

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  2. Aug 29, 2019
    B&B Happy goats

    B&B Happy goats Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  3. Aug 29, 2019
    frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Herd Master

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    I really know nothing about sheep - but there are some similarities with goats I guess....
    First thing I'd do is get a temp, a fecal and discontinue the grain for a day or so. Check the hay and make sure it's not moldy... These suggestions are just basics that I'd do with any animal with diarrhea, off their feed and generally looking "off."
    The concerning thing is that she's late in pregnancy.... so the question of toxemia might be considered.
    Again, I'm not a sheep person so I'm attaching link that might help.
    https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/livestock-biosecurity/pregnancy-toxaemia-and-hypocalcaemia-ewes
    Maybe someone with more sheep knowledge will chime in. Hope your gal gets better!
     
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  4. Aug 29, 2019
    Mike CHS

    Mike CHS Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    @frustratedearthmother covered everything you can start with. We don't guess at causes of scours because they can go from listless to dead in an amazingly short time frame. A fecal can eliminate guesses. You can almost assume coccidia and treat for that. We had a bout of it with our senior ewes recently and just treated the whole group but I have no idea how many head you are working. You can separate her but that stress often makes it worse.
     
  5. Aug 29, 2019
    Sheepshape

    Sheepshape Herd Master

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    Has she had access to a feed bin etc with inappropriate food? If a ewe manages to eat a lot of pelleted ewe food when she is not used to it she may develop explosive diarrhoea due to the sugars. However, you say that you only saw her pass a tiny pellet of poop, presumably it was hard stuff? Am I right in thinking she doesn't have diarrhoea now? There is evidence of loose faeces on her udder, and that udder looks pretty much as if it could be a full term udder.

    Do you know when she is due? A ewe about to deliver will often separate herself off, go off her food, start looking for a place to lamb... As the lamb(s) start to enter the birth canal they can cause some looseness of bowels.

    I'd certainly consider all of the things mentioned by those who have already posted.....pregnant ewes have lowered immunity in the run up to delivering. This lowered immunity extends to worms....so she may just need worming.

    If possible I'd get her indoors to keep an eye on her and I'd speak to my vet pretty soon if she were mine and an obvious cause couldn't be found.

    Good Luck.
     
  6. Aug 30, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    How is she doing?
     
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