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Author Topic: Sheep standing on its own and quiet  (Read 698 times)

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« on: September 11, 2020, 09:49:06 pm »
Any advice please .........


Our Soay ewes are now about 11 years old.  Haven't lambed for several years. Heptavac and Crovect treatment in the Spring.


Noticed one ewe standing on her own yesterday lunchtime. Looked normal and when approached ran to join the flock and seemed ok. She was on her own again today.  Didn't run back to the flock when approached and we managed to after several attempts guide her into the catching pen..... unusual to be able to separate one off and catch up like this.


We've had a thorough look at her for strike and can see nothing at all.
Weight seems ok.
Eyes bright.
No discharge from anywhere.
No scouring.
Feet fine.
She doesn't seem distressed but just isn't herself and I've not seen her graze today.


I've spoken to a farming neighbour but he feels it's likely to be old age and she is probably best left for a day or so to see how things go rather than stress her further.


Any ideas/thoughts please?

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2020, 12:00:39 am »
I wonder what her teeth are like?  Front and molar teeth.  By that age the molars can start to give problems, starting to get loose, overgrown or developing an abscess. It's worth having a gentle feel around her jawline (from the outside), feeling for heat, swelling, tenderness or sharp projections. She might also have a wobbly front tooth which if it causes her pain will stop her ripping grass, and could cause her to separate herself from the flock. 
If her teeth are fine but she's grinding them then that would indicate pain somewhere else, to be investigated.
Have a listen to her chest for breathing sounds (put your head against her ribs)
Did you check for strike up between her back legs? Did you sniff her for the smell of maggots?


Hopefully she's just having an off day and will pick up soon, but meantime offer her tasty morsels and make sure she is drinking sufficient water.  You can give a sheep water by using a large syringe with no needle, place it between the front and back teeth and over the tongue then squirt the water gently in, giving her time to swallow. Add some sugar, honey of glucose to the water, about a tablespoon, or rehydration mix if you have it.  If she's fine she'll get up and run off in indignation, if not then she needs it.  I wouldn't consider an 11 yo Soay to be particularly old, not enough to go off so suddenly.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2020, 07:51:17 am »
Thank you, FW.


We looked at her front teeth but she hasn't got any!
Will feel her jawline today for heat etc.


We tipped her over and had a good look/feel for strike on her underside/legs/ under tail. Couldn't smell anything either.
We've never had one with strike and I'm always anxious that we might miss it so I'll still check her again for this over the next day or so.


Breathing seemed ok as far as I could tell.




twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 08:26:47 am »
Vet- if you’re not able to find the problem then call the vet. Is she blind? Have you taken her temperature? You say she had crovect in the spring- it only lasts 6-8 weeks so could well be flystrike, can you get her in and check over thoroughly, take her temperature at the same time. If you still can’t work out what’s wrong keep her in and get the vet to look at her.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 09:19:15 am »
Thanks Twizzel. We did catch her up and had a good look over her for strike but can't see anything.


We've had hardly any problems with our sheep over the years and consequently still feel like a complete novice at times.


FW ....she is still with us this morning but still doesn't look right and on her own in the shelter so guessing not just an off day.


Neighbour has just called and suggested taking her temperature. Also said it could be fluke because of the wet spring. I've looked up symptoms for fluke but doesn't seem to match. Seemed to be very sudden. I check them several times each day and call them to the food trough for a good look once a day and she seemed fine and no noticeable weight loss.


I'm off to call the vet.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2020, 09:31:30 am »
Yep best call the vet. If nothing obvious they can run some bloods. It could just be age catching up with her though. Hopefully the vet can get to the bottom of it

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2020, 02:19:04 pm »
A quick update........


Vet has just called me back.


He says that due to her age he would give a very guarded prognosis but if we wanted to give her a chance he would prescribe antibiotics and metacam. He says that with an old sheep it could be many things and there were several diseases including pneumonia that they often succumb to.


He didn't seem hopeful but we will give her a chance as long as we don't feel that she is suffering.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2020, 05:53:52 pm »
Hoping she comes round.   :hug:

Vets will not be used to treating aged sheep, so this is one circumstance in which I would recommend continuing to take soundings from this forum and anywhere else where you know there are competent people with experience of caring for sheep to the end of their natural lives.  @Fleecewife on here, for one, and people like Ellie Langley - Fleece with Altitude (she isn't on TAS but you can find her on Facebook) will probably have way more experience of nursing aged sheep than a vet.  (However good the vet!  It's not a criticism of any vets, just that almost all of their experience is commercial flocks where a ewe that won't make it through her next lambing and lactation will be swiftly moved on, one way or another.)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2020, 07:12:20 pm »
Thanks SITN. I will check out the FB page that you suggest.


We've had another good check (and sniff!) for strike and given her the medication that the vet prescribed.


I haven't seen her eat but she is passing urine and normal poop so maybe she has been grazing a little when I'm not around.


No tooth grinding that I can hear so hopefully she isn't in much pain and she has had metacam so that should help. Doesn't look particularly distressed but then I guess they often don't.


Fingers crossed for the old girl.  :fc:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2020, 07:19:00 pm »
Yes, @SallyintNorth I suppose you are right that I have some experience of looking after elderly sheep. What a rep to have  :roflanim:  We have looked after several ewes in their late teens up to 20yo. And again, yes, most vets have little experience of tending to older sheep and their idea of when a sheep is 'old' tends to be very different to mine  :D .  Soays are not quite the same as Hebrideans, which are the longest living sheep we have had, and we have successfuly bred Hebs up to 16yrs, whereas our Soay have not lasted quite so long. 


Once a ewe stops breeding and no longer has that call on her reserves she can often feed herself with no front teeth at all, as your ewe appears to be doing In the Hills. Once her molars start to go though that really spells the end.  There are nursing care things you can do to support a sheep in that state but really once she starts to lose weight she has started on a downwards spiral and it's best to euthenase her before she becomes miserable.  Mr F shot our last ancient ewe while she was in the middle of munching digestive biscuits, which seems a happy way to go  :hugsheep:


With your ewe In the Hills, as the vet is happy to try her with AntiBs and metacam then give her a go, but if she doesn't respond then to my mind while she is still relatively happy and well is the best time to make the decision, sooner rather than later and before she has to face the winter. If she rallies, then give her a little extra feed to make up for the fact that she can't graze at the same rate as younger sheep - we use Carr's Champion tup coarse mix which is OK on the teeth (if they have any) and is nicely varied.  We also give preferential grazing rights to old ewes - they get to eat in the orchard as they are not going to damage the trees being toothless, and the grass in our orchard is also varied and tasty and a bit longer than the pastures.  If all your ewes are toothless then just up their feed a little.  Have you tried Digestive biscuits?  It can take a while for sheep to get a taste for them, but toothless sheep enjoy the gummy crunch of biscuits and benefit from the extra energy in a half digestive.
Remember, you know your animals better than your vet, or anyone on here, so use your best judgement to do what's best for her, in your situation. You'll know when the time comes.


Cross posted with In the Hills
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2020, 09:35:14 am »
Too soon to say for definite that she is better but I've just shouted our little flock and old Blaze has come trotting across the fields with the others. She always hangs back a bit because she is more nervous than some so didn't come right over but she did stop and start grazing!


Keeping fingers crossed. Come on old girl!

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2020, 02:54:58 pm »
I would start her now on some nice soft mix, so you can get her on her own from some extra calories if you plan to take her through the winter - will she take soaked sugar beet shreds with some oats or maize flakes in it? I am with your vet on that one, 11 is a really good age for any sheep (my oldest Shetland ewe is 11 and a half, still got all her teeth as well!), and I would not try anything other than a shot/drench of multivitamins/minerals in addition to AB's and anti-inflammatories.




Have you got somewhere where she can come inside over winter, maybe with another ewe of similar age? Esp if weather gets cold and wet, they may appreciate it?


I recently lost a ewe shortly after shearing, she was around 7 or so, looked fine at shearing time, a skeleton a few weeks later and had to be pts very quickly - she was eating and chewing her cud as we did the deed! So it can go very quickly.

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2020, 12:42:45 pm »
Thanks all.


Well, she is moving around happily with the flock, grazing and looking very alert. In fact, appears back to normal.


Hoping that it was the start of something like pneumonia and we caught it early enough for her to recover. We will be keeping a close eye on her though in case she relapses.


We don't have a building to over winter her in, Anke, and I'm not sure that she would appreciate being confined anyway. We only have 7 sheep and 5 of them are 11 and the other 2 wethers are about 7or 8 so all pretty old I guess.
We do have 2 field shelters and the land is bordered by an oak wood and we have lots of thick hedgerows so I hope that is enough in the way if cover. I could put hay/straw in the shelters???? Would that be a good idea or could it lead to problems????
They do in the winter have a handful of coarse mix (approx) each in the trough. They have this every other day or so in the summer to keep them tame and allow a closer look at them. Should I give more now during the winter months????? Or is there a better option than coarse mix???
They have hay and lib.
We've bought a lick bucket and popped out for them (designed for stock on organic systems). A couple of them have already been enjoying it.




Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2020, 01:05:53 pm »
We use straw in all our field shelters.  The only slight problem is at lambing when a ewe might get straw wound around her legs if she's a 'turner'. In general use, the straw gets flattened over a couple of weeks or so, we add more, that gets flattened and so on.  In the summer we can clean it out and use on the garden - great FYM!
Coarse mix (non-breeders and Primitives don't need the extra protein in ewe pencils, and toothless sheep struggle to eat them), a licky bucket and ad-lib hay should be fine for them.  We use the empirical approach - if they're doing fine then their feed is enough, if they're a bit thin then we would up it.  Soays know when they're hungry and don't tend to overeat, except perhaps wethers. If you have any willow, feed them some branches and see how they go - with leaves or without.
I'm delighted she's perked up  :fc:  for a few more years of life for your flock  :hugsheep:
« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 01:09:52 pm by Fleecewife »
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sheep standing on its own and quiet
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2020, 02:33:28 pm »
As Fleecewife says, a lick with some coarse mix nicely spread out in their feed troughs so they don't jostle each other too much should be fine. If you have straw then putting it in the field shelter will be great.


You can only do so much, she will have had a great life!

 
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