May 19, 2012

Well Crap

So Lilly has been acting really strange for the past 2 weeks.  It started when we thought she was going into labor, put her the barn to lamb and then she didn't.  We put her back out.  In the meantime the other two ewes lambed.  Ever since Lilly is usually laying down and she is eat very little.  But other than that she is fine.  Just to be sure we called a vet out last night.

Dr. Scott arrived around 6pm and did a thorough exam.  Nothing was off, except her mood.  Normal temperature, normal rumen function and we could feel the baby.  And he could tell that she is probably still a couple weeks from giving birth.  Advice - make sure she eats grains and keep an eye on her.

Since we had Dr. Scott out anyway, we asked him to take a look at Notag front right food.  We thought she sprained some thing.  Nope.  Hoof rot!  Well crap!

Hoof rot is a nasty little bacteria that can destroy sheep's feet and they have to be put down.  It's a common problem.  In big herds, you cull out the infected.  But we have three ewes, so treatment is the option.  Treatment means spraying the infected area, which is in between the "toes" so to speak, every day for a week and then every week for a month.

With Dr. Scott's help, we did a round with the ewes and lambs.  Notag and Francis both had hoof rot in three of four feet.  Lilly and the lambs didn't have it, but we want to prevent it, so they got treated anyway.  Then it was time to do Junior.

Let me explain about how you get at the sheep's hooves so you can understand the Junior part of this story.  The easiest way to trim the hooves or to treat for hoof rot is to roll the sheep onto their butt, with their back and head leaning up your legs and their four legs sticking straight how.  Rolling a ewe is pretty easy.  You grab the head under the jaw, then you grab the flank.  You cross the head across towards the flank, like your trying to fold the sheep in half.  At the same time you pull the flank against your leg.  The sheep rolls right onto her butt.  Jeremy did this to all the ewes while Dr. Scott explain all about hoof rot.  It was pretty neat actually, learning about what to look for and smell.  Yep, smell.  And it smells kind of sweet.  The look is like light yellow cream on the surface of the skin between the toes and the hair stops growing there.

If rolling ewes is like going for a stroll on a warm Sunday afternoon, rolling Junior is like climbing Mt Rainier in a blizzard, at night.  Jeremy made two attempts.  He could get Junior head across his body.  So we let the professional do it.  Dr. Scott put Junior in a head lock and folded with all his strength.  Jeremy had to help pull Juniors flank over.  Both Jeremy and Dr. Scott were sweating and out of breath.  The other thing about Junior was that while the ewes sat on their butts pretty quietly, Junior continued to kick is feet and buck is head.  We ended up rolling him onto his side.  I knelt on his back side (with all my body weight to keep him down).  Dr. Scott put a knee on his neck.  Jeremy held Junior's bottom front foot, which kept him from being able to get up.

Junior had hoof rot in three of his four hooves too.  We treats all feet.  Then did a one-two-three count down as we jumped away and Junior ran back into his pasture.  I serious thought him would jump up and proceed to ram us all.

Remember how we have to treat each sheep every day for a week.  That means Junior too and without the help of Dr. Scott.  I'm 100% sure Jeremy could roll Junior, but Jeremy could injure his back in the process.  Fortunately there is another way.  They make these cool little booties.  You put the medicine, which is a powder that you mix into water, just the powder, into the bottom of the boot and put them onto Junior feet.  The booties has a cinch that pulls tight and you leave them on for a week.  That means only two more times rolling Junior - not seven.

You may be wonder why Notag was the only one limping.  It stands to reason that if all of them had this nasty bacteria, then they all should be limping.  Turns out that if the hoof rot is in the two front or two back hooves, then both feet hurt equally as bad and the ewe doesn't limp.  Great - how are we suppose to know if it comes back?  Check frequently I guess.

To recap - Lilly is fine, probably just depressed, and needs to eat grains.  She won't give birth for a couple more weeks. Everyone else has hoof rot.  Not the best way to spend a Friday evening, but I'm so glad we found out now and everyone should be fine.

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