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Help! Sheep Diarhhea after introducing cracked corn

 
Dean Moriarty
Posts: 102
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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I don't know what I was thinking. I have 2 pregnant ewes, both ready to lamb any day now. They lived out in the pasture all winter with no problems, just a little hay and Tractor Supply sheep feed when the snow got too thick to find the stockpiled grass underneath. But a few days ago when the sheep were getting very close to 21 weeks of gestation, I was reading about feeding corn to increase available energy leading up to their first lambing. I guess I was too caught up in the book, and I completely ignored the common practice of introducing new food slowly. Duh!

So I fed them 2 quarts of cracked corn total (about 1 quart each). One ewe did fine on it, but the other has had diarhhea (scouring?) for 3 days now. She is barely eating grass, and usually just lays around. She still has diarhhea, which is all over her backside and tail. She can stand and does get up on occasion, but it's not for long and she doesn't move around for more than a few minutes at a time, mostly sniffing the grass and occasionally taking one or two small bites. Nothing like the appetite I'm used to watching.

I'm not sure what I should do. I've read about sodium bicarbonate, but that seems risky because of bloat. But if I don't do that, should I just offer up some dry hay and otherwise leave her alone?

This is further complicated by the fact that she is supposed to lamb any day now. So I don't know how much of her behavior is due to that also, but there's no denying that her shit is still pure liquid (although a normal dark brown color).

Any advice from the experts out there?
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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im far from an expert, but ill give you my opinion.

stop feeding corn. good alfalfa hay is all most sheep will need to overwinter.

as for the sad ewe - i would offer her some sodium bicarbonate if you have it. (free choice, im not sure about a drench)
she may have 'grain poisoning' / acidosis

keep her on good hay and remove all grain. this along with the natural soda will help bring the rumen back to balance.

hope this helps!

http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/101338/grain-poisoning-of-cattle-and-sheep.pdf
 
patrick canidae
Posts: 74
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Acute rumen acidosis

Ewes eat about 6lbs of dry matter a day

You offered 3.5 pounds of corn in one slug

If ewes evenly shared the corn (insert laughter) you would have gone from 0 to 28 percent concentrate at once; enough for two modestly ill ewes

The piggish ewe is the really ill ewe

Corn is rapidly fermented and produces large amounts of proprionic and lactic acid, rumen ph plummets, voila acidosis. drench her with a quart of water with 5-6 tablespoons of yogurt or buy probios syringes and have at it for a couple days

Fix her gut flora
Give a vitamin b complex shot asap
Administer I.v. dextrose if she doesn't eat soon or you will have ketosis/pregnancy toxaemia
Get her eating hay and pray you don't put her into pregnancy toxaemia
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 595
Location: SE Ohio
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hay. get some fiber in that gut to balance.
 
Elijah Bowman
Posts: 10
Location: Adams County, Ohio, zone 6a
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I have used DE and Bentonite clay mixed with a bit of salt to help prevent that problem with new members of my flock during the hay to pasture transition. I don't feed corn but I feel this would still be applicable.
 
Travis Johnson
Posts: 327
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Late to the game, but second what Patrick says for anyone with future issues. Vitamin B complex is something every sheep farmer should have in their veterinary cabinet.
 
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