Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Sheep Medical Emergency

Isabel and baby Hot Shot 

Do you remember the ewe that lambed on one of the hottest days here on the Spinning C?  Isabel had her baby on July unplanned pregnancy, things happen...well, anyway, last night I went out about 8:30pm to shut the sheep in the barn lot to protect them from coyotes.  I feed them some feed to encourage them to come in every night so that I don't have to run all over rounding sheep up and for the most part that works.
Now back to Isabel, she was laying up by the barn and due to the heat I didn't think much about it at first but when I poured the feed into the feeders everyone came running but Isabel just laid there.  She could not raise her head, her nose was dry and she rattled when she tried to swallow, thick drainage was coming out of her nose.  It was so hot all day. temp over 100 this afternoon and she couldn't get up and her baby was trying to suck her laying down.   I prayed that God would intervene and give me the knowledge and wisdom to help Isabel to get better if it be His will.

I have had sheep long enough to know that they are not fighters and they will just lay down and die in a matter of a few hours.  I did an examination and noted that her gums were pale, her nose was dry and hot...she had a temp.  She is a shetland and they are so hardy but I have had a couple that had thymine deficency and looked like they were on death's door but came around in just a few hours when I gave a shot of thymine.  I tried to give her some sips of water with a large syringe and she would just blow it back out her nose, thick mucus and she rattled when she tried to swallow.  Heck, I wasn't sure what was the problem but I knew she had a temp, so she had an infection...I gave her 5 cc of penicillin, again I gave her small sips of cool water with the syringe, just letting it run into her mouth but she could not swallow and it was running right back out.  I did try to give her a wormer, just in case she had worms and the stress of having the baby had caused them to storm her system.  Her lymph glands were not swollen, she was not bloated but just in case it was GI, I gave her a big dose of pepto,  We had changed feed on Monday...and the feed is lots drier, I wondered if she had got choked on the powdery feed or had got too much?   I also wondered due to drought if she had eaten a plant that was poisonous.  Or did she have an infection from giving birth on the 5th.  She had been fine that morning when I let her and her baby go out to pasture with the rest of the flock...How long had she been sick?

It was Saturday night, 9:00 pm, no vets available that really know sheep, 20 plus miles from nearest vet.   I don't have fancy equipment but with sheep, I always have penicillin, LA 200, pepto, anti-diarrhea med, Nutri-drench, baby aspirin, thymine, Selenium and vit E., a variety of wormers, syringes, and apple cider vinegar.  I next crushed a baby aspirin to get the temp down and put it in a syringe and then drew up a couple of cc's of  cool water and tried to get that down her.  I gave her a shot of 2 cc of thymine.    I then moved her to the barn isolation or as I call it, the barn ICU. Danny helped me move her to the ICU.   It is a pen that is away from the other sheep, it has been cleaned out and sprayed down with Clorox and water  a few weeks ago, fresh straw on the floor, I filled the water pail with fresh water and added about 1/4 apple cider vinegar.  I also took the syringe and gave her sips of the water with vinegar.  Then I caught little Hot Shot and gave him a bottle, he went to sucking it right probably had not gave him much milk all day.  Her bag is not hot or cakey, but I can't get milk out when I tried to milk her.

I talked to God again, I am so thankful that He gives me relief when I give my life crisis to Him and I accept what will be His Will.

I receive emails from Pipestone Vet Supply and Dr. Kennedy has shared so much good advice with us common shepherds.  To read more about Dr. Kennedy go to:,%20I-1.pdf
 I remembered an article where the Doctor thought we should give larger doses of penicillin to sheep.  (I have emailed the vets at Pipestone and they always answer me quickly).  If you have sheep, read the helpful articles and information on their website.   to read the informative newsletters

I also order most of my vet supplies from Pipestone at good prices.

Our minister's family is coming to sing for us tomorrow at church and I needed to have a snack or two prepared for them to have after the church services so I showered and changed into my night gown and tied on my apron (who cares what the kitchen attire is after 11 pm)  to prepare a batch of oatmeal peach bars.  I also took a loaf of cream cheese banana bread out of the freezer to cut up.   I have had a request for this recipe and I can not find it on so I will post it in a later blog post.

I went back out to the barn after the peach oatmeal bars came out of the oven and gave Isabel some more sips of water.  I propped her head up on a flake of hay, gave her the old you have to fight and get better for your baby and for me speech.   Isabel is one of my pets.  I also gave Isabel 3 more ccs of penicillin.  She may not want to fight but I am giving it all I have.  Isabel laid with her head propped up and eyes closed, her breathing was not labored but she rattled.  I gave her another dose of nutri-drench and when I turned off the barn lights and shut the door on the baby laying close by his mommy, I really thought Isabel would be dead when I opened the barn door in the morning.

At sunrise, I was up and out the door to go take care of little Hot Shot...thinking the worse about Isabel but when I opened the door, Issy's head was up and she was munching on the best hay on the place...that I put out for her last night.  I sat on a bale of hay, fed Hot Shot a bottle, and praised God for the wonderful  miracle that He had preformed...God is so Good.    Issy got another 3 cc dose of penicillin and a dose of thymine.  I noticed that she had drank about 1/4 of the water, her nose was damp and she was not rattling this morning.  Diagnosis...unknown...treated the sick ewe like she had worms, infection, GI problem...
Isabel had to stay in ICU today.  When we got home from church, I changed clothes and went straight out to see how my patient was doing...Isabel was standing up and drinking and eating hay and peeing!...I fed baby Hot Shot another bottle and offered Isabel some pellets but she refused to eat them but she was really eating the hay.

This evening Issy was up and baby was trying to suck but acted hungry so I gave him another bottle and he eagerly sucked it down.

What a day!  Church services and the special music were wonderful,  Isabel up and getting better!  So many wonderful blessings...I will praise The Lord coming in and going out.  God bless you.

Sorry for the long post but if I can help another sheperd with my experience, it will be worth the effort.  Thank you Dr. Kennedy for all the information that you have shared to help keep my flock healthy.


  1. Glad Issy is better. Sounds like it's been a long weekend for you. I will keep you and Issy in my prayers.

  2. Glad to hear that Issy is better now.

  3. I have had a lot of problems with both goats and sheep the past few months. I almsot lost my 2 one year old does a few weeks ago from Thiamine deficiency. I thought it was tetanus and all kinds of other things. The vet said right away when I told him the symptoms what it was. But by golly, they both got shot up with all kinds of stuff. And they are better.

    The sheep have mostly had worm problems. Bottle jaw in a few of them. So lots of rounds of wormer for them. And that's not easy to do!

    I am so glad your ewe is getting better. We may never know what the problem is but as long as something is working, that's all that matters. Thanks for sharing.

  4. thanks ladies for sharing what you have experienced, I have learned so much from other sheepy people...
    I really think the stress of giving birth, the heat, and now nursing a baby caused Issy to have the worms to storm her system, she just did not show any symptoms prior to going down.


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