Friday, October 5, 2007

New treatments for sick sheep

So as I have mentioned in the post "whys and what for" (and another) about our sick sheep I just wanted to update the situation.
The reason I am boring everyone with this on going problem is that in the coarse of raising sheep or goats it becomes very very obvious to most people that vets either:

1. Know absolutely nothing more than textbook information about these animals ---so why pay them when you can read it yourself?

2. Don't really care if they live or die. Especially with sheep. EVERYONE says " a sheep lives to die" Again---I don't believe that but whatever.

Anyway in the course of recovering from a bad case of poisoning by fungus our sheep's rumen shut down. Now THIS is serious stuff---way beyond the poisoning. Why? Because a sheep (and goat and cow) being ruminants have a fine balance of various microbes which help them digest their food in a sort of fermentation type process at points. To have these microbes completely die off is very very serious. If you have never seen a ruminant vomit---it's not a pretty site AND you wouldn't be the only one who has never seen it. By the time a ruminant gets to the point of vomiting most people write them off and put them down. Well, my ewe didn't look as if she wanted to die however any bit of solid food that passed her lips was almost immediately rejected by her "stomach". Imagine an animal standing there---looking normal but not being able to eat at all. Slowly they will starve to death or die of dehydration as they try to eat and then vomit out fluids.

So, our goal is to reintroduce the digestion process again. Just as if she were a human that had a bad case of flu----who doesn't immediately restart eating by choosing a thick steak needless to say.

How are we doing it? Well that is why I wanted to post this since there is very very little information on line. If you don't have the correct books---your out of luck.
We didn't do fancy expensive vet stuff like intravenous fluids or anything like that---of course we didn't wait until she was really bad either can however give fluids under the skin if you need to. We didn't as I said.

What we did do was start with fresh ginger from our local store. We bought a pound of it for 3.49 and haven't used much of the total amount so far. We grated it some of it and put about 1/8 to a 1/4 cup of the grated in a lidded bowl with an peppermint leaf tea bag (2.49 for the box of peppermint leaves only---25 bag count ---no flowers, or green or black tea etc added) and steeped it with about two cups of water and two tea bags. We strained it then drenched the ewe with 60 to 90 cc/ml every 15 minutes for an hour and a half to try and settle the rumen.
After that I took plain regular fat yogurt with live culture (or low fat---but not the no fat--- WATCH the ingredients) and thinned it with some ginger/peppermint tea and added a teaspoon of probios powder ($2.49) and electrolyte powder ($1.99). The electrolyte powder also has some added Dextrose so it was a calorie boost also---which was why I chose that particular brand. Both products were meant to go into drinking water but she wasn't drinking much at this time since her stomach was so upset. The tea added was so it would go through my drench nozzle attachment to my 30 cc/ml syringe. I force fed her that (about 90ml again) once every half hour---checking after 5 minutes to make sure she didn't vomit it. After a few times the ewe decided---"Hey I like this stuff" and started taking the drench nozzle in her mouth on her own. We upped the amount she ate each time and by the time 6 ish hours had passed I added some corn syrup to add calories to the mix----and by then the ewe was sitting in my lap begging me to hurry and feed this to her faster. At that point she was eating within a two minute period one cup of the yogurt mix---sucking on the drench nozzle as the last of it went down her throat. For some reason she would not eat it out of a bowl though (must be sheep/texture thing).
One other idea I have been told about since this began is a high calorie livestock supplement that has more calories than the corn syrup does called "Dyne" The person who recommended the dyne says she has used it on sick llamas and lambs---so it would surely work on adult animals too. I will get some---but don't have any currently.
My point yesterday was to try and get about 3000 calories into her (based on her normal weight of about 150 pounds) so she would have a maintenance amount of calories to live on. Hence the dextrose in the powder and the corn syrup so that the calorie count would go up for each feeding.
3 large yogurts cost about $7.50. So in time---this could get expensive but I could have also supplemented with dextrose shots but chose not to. I hate to give lots and lots of shots HOWEVER if they are going to possibly die the rule of thumb is this:

Try anything and don't worry about wether it will kill them or not----if they are about to die what do you have to lose? You may save them

Also---a vet would cost me a lot more so..
Starting today---we added cooked rice. Last night at the last feeding I had added a bit of blender ground cooked rice---which had the yogurt mix blended with it. Today I didn't grind it and it was mixed with a small bit of her yogurt and put in a bowl. Since she was so hungry (no night feeding) she was willing to lick it out of the bowl. This is basically a "BRAT" diet. You know the doctor prescribed bananas, rice, apples and tea for sick kids.
She likes the rice and so slowly we will work up to solids. I am not sure exactly how to go from yogurt and rice to hay and grass but we will figure something out. In the mean time---she looks lots better. Yesterday she had finally gotten weak enough that she wasn't standing again---but by later last night she was not having problems getting up or standing. So we are on the right tract it will just take time and hopefully work out for us.

By the way---during all of this the ewe has been receiving Bcomplex shots. These vitamins are manufactured by the rumen when it is working correctly. If it is not working correctly -- they are not being made. So don't forget those B shots---even with other illnesses :-)

Don't forget when adding anything to the diet small amounts first---working up to large. Even with the yogurt which has the live culture the rumen needs---small amounts. Better small amounts more frequently than to over whelm the system and have the vomiting reoccur.


SimplyTim said...


I understand that sheep don't speak in words...but for the moment I would like to assume the role of stand-in sheep with a one time pass for a human voice.

Here goes.

Monica, you are so good to me. I love living here and I notice you around a lot. One of my true pleasures in life is to eat grass. I never tire of it.

But I've noticed recently that the grass has been sharper and crispier than usual. It's hasn't been as much fun recently because of that. And I've been running some tentative experiments with some other things to chew on.

And then something big happened to my world - it just sort of collapsed.

I know the other sheep noticed and they were concerned in their own ways. But then an interesting thing happened. This two-footer who is always hanging around where we eat came up to me and took a real interest in me. She started doing some things to me and it helped and then it tasted good - a different experience than I am accustomed to - hmmmm, I wonder if this means I am growing as a sheep? - and it started to taste not just different but good.

I'm starting to feel better now. I'm going to tell all the other sheep about you and how you took care of me. I hope that they will learn how to look at you as really special.

This next part may seem strange, but I want to also tell you that I am aware that I am suddenly feeling some different feeling for a sheep towards a two-footer. I think I will call it a name - Love.

Oh, and by the way, any chance of some ice cream?

Oh, and by the way two, if I don't make it - you know what I mean - I want you to know that I still love you and that you will be known by sheep in this whole area as "the two-footer who was loved."

Please don't forget the ice cream.

Oh, and one final thing, Tim thinks you did a great job also.

Lorraine said...

I thank you for taking the time to let us know what you are doing and how its working. I agree with you that vets no very little about our breed. Sadly I have only 1 year under my belt... your emails have been worth, well they are priceless.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Tim---I left you a note the other day about what you wrote but I don't see it. However---let me say to you: thanks---that's a really really nice comment and I really really appreciate it.

One more thing--unfortunately--Princess did not get to get ice cream. She was disappointed however we gave her a small bit of grain and I think she forgave us ;-)

one of the very reasons I do this is so that others can see what it's really like to raise animals (all of them) and hopefully help if I can.
The books always make it seem so very easy with just the occasional hiccup so it's easy to feel as if "I" am the only one with this or that problem.
Though I don't think being a "farmer" is as easy as some think it is----I wouldn't trade it for many things.
Good Luck to you---hope it all comes out the way it needs to for you to be
happy :-)

SimplyTim said...


I didn't get the posting that you sent to my blog.

If you want to resend it I will be sure to get it up...actually I have it set up in a way that it goes up automatically...but if I find it objectionable I can delete it.

Also...if you have Lyme disease in your might want to take a look at my latest posting.


p.s. say hello to princess for me

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

As if I would remember what I posted after this amount of time Tim! You must being thinking of someone else with "super memory" instead of me :-D.
I will check out the post. See you there.