Friday, June 15, 2012

Grass Staggers/Twin Lamb

My little flock has had to put up with some nasty weather conditions over the past 2 - 3 years since they are totally outdoor girls (and rams), no sheds and supplemental feed just to cover them from late pregnancy to post lambing. Largely got away with it but one poor girl got Grass Staggers aka hypomagnesaemia along with twin lamb disease. It was a sort of "perfect storm" for her - she's young and was perhaps under condition when tupped ('though not greatly), then she had a pair of bouncing lambs mid April which grew at a hefty rate, using her calcium galore, the weather got nasty with poor grass growth then suddenly warm and bright with rapid, flimsy new grass growth only to turn cold and wet again - add it all together and I find an ewe in the field stargazing (standing there with her neck bent back and apparently staring at the sky).
I take her to the garden shed for shelter and all her muscles are twitching, neck is extended and teeth grinding. Fifty mls s.q. 40% ca mag plus 3  - 45 mls revival tonic (molasses with magnesium, calcium etc) down a tube - fortunately she can swallow.  Back some hours later, repeat all - little response. Day two, she's a downer. Give all the above again plus additional tube feeds for energy and ions - little response.
Mostly if they don't respond by then it's curtains.
Next day:
Hello! Up and about and making a right mess out of the shed!
Thing now was to get her rumen going - no rumen, no sheep.
She won't eat by herself so still giving glucose rich by tube (tube into her gullet and she swallows the liquid - not a stomach tube). Added some probiotic yogurt (Glenisk no less). Offered greens and concentrate - just stares at it but... a bolus of lettuce popped into her cheek causes her to chew automatically and so eating begins ! Slipped in a little concentrate and that got chewed up too - then it seemed to dawn on her how to eat and she sets into a dish of concentrate. Improvement continued over the next 2 days - I'd have let her rejoin the flock but her twins might have returned to the milk bar so kept her away for a total of 5 days and when she returned they just acknowledged her but didn't bother her.  They are feeding themselves quite well and don't need her anymore.
I placed a bucket of lick with calcium and magnesium in it in the field and she's the only one to show interest in it so far.
Anyway, just an episode of sheerly emergency that arrises with the ovines from time to time.
That's sheep for ya.

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