Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bad Day at the Farm

When I fed the sheep yesterday morning I noticed one of the yearling's wasn't eating. Then upon closer examination I noticed she had some foam in her mouth. Uhoh! Looked like bloat. I've never come across this in my own sheep and it is more common when letting sheep out to pasture. I knew they hadn't been overfed (another cause of bloat) and why weren't the rest of the sheep sick if it was a toxin in the food? And if it was a toxin in the food, which food? Hay or grain? Something in the water somehow? I grabbed my trusty bible "Raising Sheep the Modern Way " and proceeded to look up treating bloat. Armed with canola oil and baking soda, I syringed this stuff into the ewe's mouth. She burped a few times (this is good) and I observed her for awhile. She was breathing heavily. For those of you unfamilar with bloat, it's basically excess gas formation in the rumen causing the resulting bloat to eventually suffocate the sheep. Getting the gas out was the priority. I observed her throughout the day. She wasn't improving but wasn't getting any better. Then I left the house to drop the kid's skis (yes they actually did ski yesterday despite the torrential rain all day) at school and when I came back another, mature ewe was dead! That fast, that sudden. She was pregnant with twins most likely, and they were due anytime. I was very alarmed, worried and upset. I called the vet, he left medicine for my husband to pick up. When he got home I noticed another yearling was breathing heavily. We gave both her and the yearling that had been sick all day this medicine. The stress of giving the medicine, killed the yearling that had ben sick all day. So now we were two sheep down. The rest of the sheep, and interestingly enough they are another breed of sheep, were all still fine. The vet, my kids, and friends put our heads together to figure out the source of the problem but came up with zeros. No one was driving to Cornell in last night's snow for an autopsy so that was that. We went to bed wondring if the last sick ewe would be alive in the morning. As of this wiritng she is still alive but not eating and the vet is due anytime now. He will most likely puncture the rumen to allow the gas to escape and hopefully we will save this one. The rest of the sheep are still fine. Life ...or I guess I should say, death on the farm. :-(