One of the really gross, but complete common things on a farm, is parasites. All grassing animals are subject to these nasty like bugs. Basically it works like this - sheep has some parasites in its stomach (really, we all do), sheep poops, sheep grazes off of plants growing in poop, parasite population flourishes. Delicious, right?!
We got home from vacation last Sunday and things were pretty good (other than the refrigerator leak that happened three days into our vacation at 10:30pm, but that is another story). The animals were well taken care of by our friend. Everything seemed great.
On Monday we noticed that Notag was "off." All the books and websites say that the most telling thing about your animals if they seem not normal. On Tuesday, the underside of her mouth was swollen and she had separated herself from the herd. Since she is the alpha, there must be something really wrong. We marched her into the barn, took some pictures to email to the vet, and gave her some dewormer for good measure.
Many people, including myself, understand and pursue organic foods - food not treated with chemicals. And when we first moved to the farm, I had high hopes of raising organic meat. That was quickly dashed with our first round of parasites and the need for a dewormer lest we start loosing our animals to dehydration and anemia. I akin this to taking an antibiotic when you get strep-throat - some times you just gotta have the medicine.
Anyway, we gave Notag some dewormer just in case. On Friday, she had not improved and was now making a gurgling sound when she ate ate and drank water. We called the vet who came out Saturday morning. A fecal test revealed massive amounts of some very bad tape worm. Fantastic! These little worms were stealing all of Notag's iron so she had become anemic and the fluid was a response to that. Notag got a iron shot in the butt, which she did not like, and a huge topical dose of some strong anti-tape-worm medicine (I forget now what it was called). Today, Monday, she is doing much better. Up and around in the barn. She should be good in a couple more days.
However, this particular little tape worm is a nasty sort. It can survive in a pasture for 3 to 4 years and there is no remedy except keeping the animals parasite free (by medicating routinely) and letting the parasite population die out. Next weekend, all the rest of the sheep get their round of topical anti-tape-worm medicine.
This also puts a damper on selling the sheep. I can't in good conscious sell sheep infected with tape worms. So we have to medicate and wait 2 days before resuming the sheep sale.
Stupid little parasites!!
Notag is doing much better. She is back out on the pasture and the swelling has gone down. Next weekend we get to give the rest of the sheep their shots of Decotmax. Fun, fun!