Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sheep and The Stresses of Summer


I had to choose sheep as my first venture into livestock. Of course then we're hit with the hottest summer we've had in years and I, a lowly newb of a shepherdess, am so over my head it's not even funny.

In case you haven't heard, Gertrude is not doing well. She had what we believed to be white muscle disease and over the past ten days had made a fantastic recovery. Then yesterday morning I went out to find her with the very beginnings of bottlejaw, which is a sign of severe anemia. The strange thing is I had just wormed her, and I'd been treating her with all sorts of supplements and vitamins. The bottlejaw showed up much faster than I'd ever heard of, materializing into a massive lump within just hours. By the afternoon heat, Gertrude was lying flat, still in good spirits, but very, very lethargic. The evening showed a bit of improvement, as she was up again, and walking around the field.

Then this morning she was flat again, this time in the cool morning air. Her ears were lower than usual, and her eyelids, in a sort of drunken lethargic stare. I gave her a bit of vitamin B and started the phone calls. There are so many vets in this area that don't treat sheep it's ridiculous! I finally found one who would be able to see her, but their mobile unit was in the shop for the day so they asked me to bring her in. Yeesh. Have I mentioned I love my station wagon?

We brought them into the vet and within a few minutes the doctor seemed a bit stumped. When he heard that she had a miscarriage earlier this year he began to suspect perhaps Gertrude had only miscarried one of twins and that she might have a mummified fetus internally.

Out came the ultrasound and after an interesting struggle, all the while with Brighid trying to stand on top of Gertrude to protect her, we were able to see that Gertrude has a massive amount of fluid in her abdomen, which is connected to the bottlejaw. What the vet unfortunately could not see was anything indicative of a mummified fetus. Of course this didn't rule out the possibility. As with all ultrasounds, it just meant there just wasn't a mummified fetus on the screen. 

Basically we're giving her antibiotics and anti-inflammatories in the hopes of getting her through the hot weekend. She did have a fairly high parasite load of worms that are not covered by the Levasol and Safegard that I had given her, so we treated both little ladies with IM Ivermectin. I can only hope that those treatments, combined with increasing her vitamins B and E, her protein, her trace minerals, her selenium and her grain we can get ahead of whatever it is that she is suffering from. What a day.

So if you'll excuse me, I intend to finish the rest of my grouchy, grumbley day in my pajamas, on the couch, watching Dr. Who on DVD... eating junk food.


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