Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sheepy Noses and Sheepy Woes-es...

My poor ewes. Every spring, since I brought my first sheep home, our fuzzy friends have always had a bit of a cough and nasal discharge. It's never been bad; it's always cleared up on it's own, but it also always seemed to pop up again when it would be particularly rainy. After talking to several other shepherds and shepherdesses, and a couple of vets, I settled on "mysterious allergies" and tried to stop cringing when I heard the all-too-humanlike hack come from the field.

Well, a couple of weeks ago my sheep were acting very strange. They would shove their noses to the ground and run around in jerky motions, often sticking their faces in the grass or in corners of shade. They were also twitching constantly, and tripping when they ran. I treated them for grass tetany because I know we've had magnesium issues in the past, and in the process of rounding them up and dosing them they all improved (pretty much immediately, which I thought was weird.)

Then, last night while I was out putting up the ducks and chickens, I noticed they were doing it again!

This was very weird because just yesterday morning I hand sheared one of my ewes (her condition is awesome, by the way!) and when I finished, I dosed her with extra vitamins and minerals, as well as some magnesium. If she'd gotten magnesium in the morning, she shouldn't have been showing signs of magnesium deficiency only 12 hours later. I started some fierce googling and finally found this:

This is a video another shepherdess has posted of her sick sheep, and it shows the exact behavior that my sheep have been exhibiting. It's creepy behavior, too!

One of the comments below suggests nose bots, so I started reading up on them and sure enough the symptoms fit precisely, right down to the slight nasal discharge.

The two days that the sheep have shown the most distress have been the hottest most fly-filled days. My poor ladies...

Last night I dug around until I actually managed to find my bottle of ivermectin and a spare sheep drenching gun (like a super heavy duty needle-less syringe that we use to give them liquid meds/vitamins) and armed with my handy-dandy headlamp (aka face-bug-target) I headed out to the barn and drenched them all with ivermectin, as well as vitamins A, D, B and E, selenium and magnesium just for the helluvit. They actually all drenched fairly easily; I usually have to bring Jeremy along to be the muscle, but I've been shoveling treats down their throats in an effort to make bringing them off the grass an easier task, and apparently this has paid off and they all "like" me now... Haha. Bribery will get you EVERYWHERE in the livestock world!

Anyway, I'll keep an eye on them, but this should at least take care of the current nose bot issues. I'll have to come up with some sort of repellent or something for them for the rest of the year though, or else I'll have to keep worming them which I really hate to do. I had been so proud, too, because I'd been chemical-free for so many months with no parasite issues... damn.


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