The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: Maggie on October 21, 2011, 07:40:26 pm

Title: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 21, 2011, 07:40:26 pm
Has anyone else had this problem, and if so, what was the outcome?   I noticed she was lame one Sunday, isolated her, gave her a dose of alamycin but by the Thursday there was no change.  Joint above her hoof is very swollen, feels stiff, the joint at the knee a wee bit big but nothing to worry about said vet.  She's been on Pen & Strep every day now for 8 days.  I even tried poulticing (tricky) and wrapped it in thick cotton wool then a bandage, not tight.  Still no change. 

She is losing condition, and the *shoulder* on the bad side looks withered since she's not putting any weight on the leg at all.   If anyone's had a similar scenario, can you give me any advice?

Cheers.

Maggie :cow:
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on October 22, 2011, 02:09:08 am
We have had the same experience, about one or two lambs a year and the occasional ewe.  Almost all do eventually recover.  Like you we have used various antibiotics but I cannot say for sure that they seem to really help - but you can't do nothing, eh?  B-vitamins are something else that will help her general state of health and hence help her fight the infection.

Most of ours (but not all) have eventually had some seepage - if you see this then you can help get the pus out and use saline washes to help the healing.

I have tried finding a way to let the pus out before they get to the seeping stage - but I have never ever been successful at this with these sorts of swellings, so unless the vet wants to have a go I definitely would not now try lancing it myself.

So nothing concrete to offer you except that our experience is that they usually do recover - but not quickly.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 22, 2011, 08:18:22 am
Thanks Sally.  That settles it I'll persevere. Vet did mention injecting saline into the joint to flush out so I might take her back in for that next week.  He did mention putting one of those camera needles in as well, but I have to weigh up the costs etc. and that would be expensive.

Shes awfully thin and not eating any hay at all, only nibbling at the cake, but just like a sheep, she'll happily wait till I pick grass for her and feed her by hand!

Thanks again Sally.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on October 22, 2011, 12:54:00 pm
Maggie, if she won't eat there's something else going on as well.  When did she last have a mineral drench?
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: rbarlo32 on October 23, 2011, 05:31:19 pm
any ticks.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Hopewell on October 23, 2011, 08:23:49 pm
I think I'd try a change of antibiotic.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on October 24, 2011, 01:20:14 am
any ticks.

Right on, Rachel - the vet thought some of our more generalised stiff / lameness cases could be tick pyaemia.  They have all eventually recovered.  Next year we will have to start using Crovect earlier in the season to give them some protection against ticks too.  I have a theory about ticks and tick-borne diseases being more prevalent - will start another thread rather than hijack this one.

I'm not sure whether the single joint cases would be tick pyaemia or something else.

I am concerned about Maggie's ewe not eating.  All of ours have carried on eating, including one lamb with generalised stiffness who lost no condition whatsoever even when he struggled to walk more than a few yards at a time.

I think I would look at the possible causes of condition / appetite loss, Maggie.  It may or may not be related to the arthritic joint.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 24, 2011, 03:37:41 pm
Thanks everyone.  I'm going to go out in a wee while, and give her the Pen & Strep jab, and I'll have a good look all over for any signs of ticks.  That hadn't occurred to me.  Though 2 weeks ago,  when I first isolated her, I noticed two flies on her, so I gave her a wee spray with crovect anyway.

She is thin and out of condition, but then she was when I drove her into the vet 2 weeks ago.  She is pooping and drinking lots.  Sometimes her bucket is totally empty and Im not sure whether she's eaten it all, or the greedy black lab belonging to OH ....  has scoffed it.  She isn't touching the hay at all, so not sure if the quality is bad.

She does like fresh grass, and I could put her in the yard where she can eat what's on the bank, but I'm worried about trying to get her in for the daily jab.  Even on 3 legs, she still moves fast. 

Thanks again....  off to check her now.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: feldar on October 24, 2011, 04:28:30 pm
I know it's expensive, but i put my off colour ewes on Alfa -A horse feed, that and some soaked sugar beet usually gets them eating again.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SteveHants on October 24, 2011, 10:58:52 pm
If you can treat her do, but in my experience that kind of thing has 'cull ewe' written all over it.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on October 25, 2011, 12:25:54 am
She does like fresh grass, and I could put her in the yard where she can eat what's on the bank, but I'm worried about trying to get her in for the daily jab.  Even on 3 legs, she still moves fast. 

If she's had alamycin and then Pen & Strep for 8 days, she's had plenty of antibiotics.  If she'll eat grass, get her on grass before she dies of malnutrition.  Give her vitamins and minerals before you put her out if you haven't already.

(The recommended dosing for Pen & Strep is repeat for 1-3 days; you won't do any harm going on for longer but I would think that by the 8th day any susceptible bacteria are dead and any left are not susceptible.)
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 25, 2011, 03:20:08 pm
Thanks again folks, I am taking in all the advice you're giving me.

Sally, I agree.  I think she has had plenty of antibiotics, it was just the vet who said *oh this could go on for weeks* and I really want her to survive.  I tried to turn her out to the yard this morning, but she wouldn't budge, even when I left the gates open.  I'm going to get behind her now (in half an hour from now) and hope she hops off to the grass bank and at least has some nutrition.

Felder, thanks, I wish I'd read the forum before I went shopping today.  I'll try the alfa-a whatsit, if I can get hold of it.  She does eat wee bits of cake, but not enough. 

Steve, thanks too.  My hubby says *cull it* for any reason.  It makes me wonder why we buy ewes at all.   ??? 

I'll keep on trying.  I'm not a quitter and I'll let you know how it goes.  Thanks again everyone.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SteveHants on October 25, 2011, 03:48:24 pm
Steve, thanks too.  My hubby says *cull it* for any reason.  It makes me wonder why we buy ewes at all.   ??? 

I know it seems hard, but culling for poor traits will ultimately lead to a happier flock (and shepherd/ess).

I have a small flock, so I don't feel as though I can be as ruthless as the bigger boys, but I certainly wont get rid of or use lambs from poorer ewes as replacements, they are meat whatever the gender. But, if I had your sickly ewe, Id be taking a long hard look at it.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on October 25, 2011, 07:09:04 pm
Well, unless Maggie's wanting to pay for the dead cart to it, she's got to give it a month anyway - it's full of Pen & Strep with a 31 day withdrawal.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 26, 2011, 12:36:05 pm
Well I hope I'm not putting the cart before the sheep, but this morning when I turned her out (again) that joint didn't look quite as swollen.  But yes, Sally, she's full of P&S and besides I don't think I'm allowed to transport her when she's lame.  Last time we took a prolapsed ewe to the abattoir, we got 24 for her, but the diesel was around 10.    Could be a case of onfarm slaughter and I wont waste the meat. Dogs can have it. 

Steve, I know you're right about using the offspring of the poorer ewes, but my best ram lamb this year came from that prolapsed ewe we got 24 for.  He's now a big star in a north Devon themepark!
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Anke on October 26, 2011, 12:57:56 pm
If she is an older ewe, have you ruled out MV? is she is wheezing too? Just thought because of swollen joints (arthritic disease) and also her being thin?
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 27, 2011, 05:33:53 pm
Not older, born 2009 had her first lambs this year, and a very easy birth and great mum she was.  She isn't wheezing, and the weight loss has occurred since isolating her from the rest. 
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on October 27, 2011, 05:56:26 pm
One idea - when I had a sick ewe the only thing she would touch was dock leaves. And apparently (I read later) they are full of potassium and calcium which could only be a bad thing. She got better eventually tho I have to confess to taking advantage of her recoveryby sending her off to the abbatoir a month or so back after she had had a summer of fresh green grass and the sun on her back.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 27, 2011, 11:11:20 pm
Well Lachlan.....even though I think she might end up like your ewe....in the abbatoir, and I will try to feed her up.... I am your typical woman.  I will change her, I will make a difference, and she will get better. But then again, if I fail, I will fess up. :-\ 

I was surprised tonight when......  after weeks of me wrestling with her, to give her her nightly jab......  she still comes to me, so I can put her into the barn on a wet horrible night. 
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: SallyintNorth on October 28, 2011, 07:35:36 am
Maggie, I am concerned about the Pen & Strep going on for so long; I wonder did the vet really mean you to continue daily jabs for this long?  Could you give him/her a ring and check?  The problem being that while the ewe's getting antibiotics, her gut flora won't be able to reestablish - and she needs all the help digesting her food she can get!

I am very happy to be corrected by your vet - but would rather be proved wrong than not shout out, just in case I'm not wrong!
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: Maggie on October 28, 2011, 11:51:33 am
Sally, my vet distinctly said to me, that I could continue the P&S jabs for several weeks.  At the time, I didn't question it (he did confirm it was ok to keep using it, when he called me for a progress report last week).

I think you guys are right though, and I stopped using the Pen & Strep now.  Her last dose of that was Monday.
Title: Re: Septic Arthritis in one of my ewes
Post by: mmu on October 29, 2011, 03:55:23 pm
I greatly admire what you're doing Maggie, we keep our small flock more for pleasure than profit, although I would like to break even occasionally.  We always seem to have a couple of old things around that should have gone away, but as long as they are happy and reasonably healthy, and keep their heads down we let them stay awhile.  Even with sick ones, they do often get better with TLC. and you can be too hasty sending them away.  A couple of summers ago one of our Shetlands was definitely off colour, didn't respond to anti biotics, wasn't bossy or noisy and looked very much like she'd had enough.  We decided not to shear her as it was obvious she'd be gone before long.  Well, she's still here, just as feisty as ever.  O.k this is not a commercial way of doing things, but then we're not commercial farmers, if we were I'd grow tatties!