Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sick Lamb

The hard part of raising livestock is that sometimes they become, well, dead stock. You do what you can, of course, to keep them all healthy, but unfortunately, sickness and death is as integral a part of the cycle as mating and birth. The best you can do is try to keep the mortality rate to a minimum.

That's what I'm trying to do right now with a lamb I have that's sick. To make things even more difficult, this is the friendliest lamb I've ever had. Bottle-fed lambs are often extra friendly, but this lamb was never bottle fed. She just decided when she was born that she loves people as much as she loves sheep.

She's been thin but vigorous for quite a while, and while she has been wormed as needed, given booster shots of selenium, and doses of my sheep drench, she just never seemed to have as much of an appetite as the other lambs. She would rather spend her time snuggling with the people and getting petted than eating grain or alfalfa.

I worried about her a little bit because she wasn't as fat as I would like her to be, but as long as she was vigorous, I figured that maybe her thinness was just a factor of her Leadersheep bloodlines (Leadersheep are usually quite narrow in their builds).

But recently, she's started getting lethargic. I wormed her and gave her another Bo-Se shot, but that night it rained and hailed, and the next morning I found that she had gone off and isolated herself in the woods, the way sheep often do when they are ready to die. She had a mild fever, and looked like she was heading into a bout of pneumonia.

I brought her inside and started all the other treatments I could think of. I gave her a vitamin B shot to bolster her energy, a Naxcel shot for the pneumonia, ProBios to help her digestion, and an oral dose of "Baby Lamb Strength" liquid, which has several other vitamins in it, plus fat for calories.

She lay on my living room floor all afternoon, panting in obvious discomfort. I was prepared for her to die. But late in the afternoon, she stood up, peed on the floor, and looked a little more cheerful. When I left to do the evening chores, she BAAAAAed after me, so I took that to mean that she was feeling well enough to be let back out with the other sheep.

So now, she and her mom are in a separate pen, where they can be together without any competition, but can still see all the other sheep so they don't feel isolated. The lamb is still very lethargic and uncomfortable, so she is not out of the woods yet. But so far she's hanging in there, and has enough strength to walk around a little bit.

So, with a little luck and perseverance, maybe she will survive.

1 comment:

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Thinking positive thoughts for that little youngster. You are a terrific shepherd!