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Sheep losing wool around eyes

 
Anne Ryan
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A few hours ago, I noticed one of my five sheep is losing wool around her eyes. There are also some patches further back toward her ears.  I washed her eyes with warm water to try to better identify what is going on.  The skin is very flaky (chunks came off as I wiped), but also oily/moist, and seems to be somewhat tender (although I'd be skittish with someone holding me and wiping my eyes too...)  None of the others shows any signs of the trouble. 

I have spent the better part of this afternoon making calls, looking in books, searching online, sending e-mails, etc., to try to get to the bottom of the trouble.  If anyone has experienced this and can diagnose it for me, I would appreciate the input.  An added bonus would be a non-pharmaceutical way to treat it. I have diatomaceous earth if it might be lice, mites, etc., although I'm hesitant to use it so close to her eyes.  I have GOOT if it requires an antibiotic solution. 

I am concerned about the others catching it, but separating her from the others would be difficult, and traumatic for her.  If it's necessary, I'll figure a way, but I expect I won't get much sleep - that's what happened in the past with a lonely ewe-lamb.

Thanks for any help people might be able to offer...

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Travis Johnson
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I have never seen that exact condition before, but around the eyes may just be the start. Generally wool loss is an indication of a high fever, or that has been my experience with sheep anyway. You should be able to quickly ascertain if that is the issue or not by a rectal thermometer, or if you don't have that, gripping the sheep's ears. You can readily tell from that if there is a elevated temperature.

If it is, then honestly I have no experience with holistic animal husbandry, but in my case I would use 5 cc's of Banemine; an injectable aspirin to get the the fever down, and then an antibiotic, probably 7 ccs of LA 200 for starters, (2) shots two days apart, but if the sheep did not react, I would administer Pen G on a daily basis for a week. All those drugs are available over the counter at Tractor Supply or livestock care store. Now I don't say all this to offend you, but in the hopes that maybe you know of a holistic equivalent for those two drugs, or in case someone else with sheep runs into wool loss.

Obviously if it is not an elevated temperature, then it has to do with the eyes itself, of which I have no immediate advice, but will consult my sheep veterinary care books and maybe find something for you.

Best wishes. I got a sick sheep in the barn myself, just kind of waiting it out with no hope for recovery, but hoping Keytosis will hold off until after she starts to lamb so I can pull them and maybe salvage something from her. Its sad.

 
Travis Johnson
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You might want to give her electrolytes too if she has a high fever. Depending on her status and your relationship with her, you can give it...

1. In a drench syringe
2. Bottle
3. Pail of water with electrolytes mixed in
4. Stomach Tube

I prefer the latter simply because it is fast and easy I am assured the ewe is getting the full dose

By the way...as you probably know...electrolytes is NOT a medication, just minerals that she may be missing from the high fever. You do not want her to go into acidosis that is for sure. That stems from dehydration so you want to prevent that. You can...and I have...substituted electrolytes for Gatorade which is the same thing, but its kind of diluted. You have to give an a lot of it for the same result, but it will work.

If she starts getting really sick, you may have to call a vet. I doubt she is at the point of acidosis yet, but it is life threatening. If I even suspect a sheep or lamb is nearing this, I am pretty quick at injecting them with cal-dextrose just to rehydrate them.  You can buy that at Tractor Supply too. Its cheap and comes in a big bottle.
 
Travis Johnson
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One more thing...which you probably know but others on here might not. Most injections are given subcutaneously...under the skin. I usually do so just under the front leg where there is little wool. Antibiotics are given straight into a muscle.
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Is the area around her mouth affected too, as it looks like it from the photos?
 
Regan Dixon
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Travis knows sheep and I don't, so none of this is to be taken as contrary to his suggestions.  But, when I see hair loss around the eyes and base of ears with my goats, it seems to be mites.  It will start with one animal, then spread.  I don't have a non-pharmaceutical answer to that, but use Eprinex to clear it up.  Takes a couple of applications.
 
Anne Ryan
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Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experience.  In reading it all a few days ago, it triggered a memory (because of how you worded it about maybe I knew holistic alternatives to what would be used conventionally) of a place that I could call to find out a holistic option. They were very helpful, and I will keep their number at the top of my list for consulting in the future.

Again, thank you. I am still working on diagnosis, but have some leads to follow. This is all outside my comfort zone. I've had sheep several times before, but never had any issues that required a vet or medical intervention, so I'm in unfamiliar territory.  I've always had churros before, and these are Jacobs lambs born last spring.

 
Anne Ryan
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I think this is my first time posting something on a forum (I think I'd remember if I'd done it before...), and all I have is a little phone. I'm not sure why the two recent posts didn't come up for me until after the reply I just posted.

I did e-mail the lady I got the sheep from just a few months ago, and she also suggested mites.  It is definitely around the eyes and ears. I am going to grab her again this morning and get some better photos. I will also check her mouth. I didn't notice anything there, but I see what you mean about how it looks in the photos. She does tend to drool her cud more than the others, so it might be that. I'll soon find out...

Thank you... 
 
Travis Johnson
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Regan Dixon wrote:Travis knows sheep and I don't, so none of this is to be taken as contrary to his suggestions.  But, when I see hair loss around the eyes and base of ears with my goats, it seems to be mites.  It will start with one animal, then spread.  I don't have a non-pharmaceutical answer to that, but use Eprinex to clear it up.  Takes a couple of applications.


Maybe, but I have never had mites (yet).

My points were based on losing wool, but if wool loss stopped then its not a fever, but a rectal thermometer (or grabbing of the ears) should have indicated that. When the sheep I had lost wool, it started small, then they lost their entire fleece.

You also said in your latest reply that she drools a lot when she eats her cud, what is her parasitic worm count? I assume since you do holistic care you don't deworm, which could lead to a high count. A farmer-type of check is to pull down her eye lids and check for the color. White is a very low parasite count, and the more yellow, the more she has. You can do a search online for exact color indications, assuming your computer monitor has been color calibrated at some point. (Or you can do a fecal sample and have the count checked that way). I have a few more sheep than you, so I have a few that die (yesterday) so I open them up and check for liver flukes and their lungs for pneumonia that way.

I love sheep, and they are easy keepers for sure, but due to their nature, they just don't like to admit when they are sick to the chagrin of us shepherds (and shepherdesses).
 
Anne Ryan
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Thanks again for all your input...

I have used Hoegger herbal wormer for many years for my sheep, and my cow when I had her. The two lambs I got last summer received the full initiation (morning and night for three days) of the wormer, and then you give it once a week. The three new ewes were wormed conventionally at their former home until I got them in December.  I haven't initiated them yet on the herbal wormer for a couple reasons - they were spooked at first and it took a while for them to eat out of my hand, and also, I'm getting low on the wormer.  I will do it now (and get more wormer).  Thanks for your reminder that I need to get them in the swing of how things work around here.

I took a couple photos and my phone turned off (low battery), but I'll attach what I got.  I discovered that the hair loss is definitely around her mouth too, which may be the reason I have noticed her cud more than I have on the others. I thought she drooled more, but maybe her cud sticks to her skin whereas it may just drip off the others' hair/wool.

I wasn't sure I'd get a response from the lady I got the three recent additions from since one e-mail I sent her went unanswered, but since she did answer and suggested mites, I'm wondering if it's something she has had trouble with and maybe she knows/knew it when I took them.

I will also try to follow up on the other diagnostic suggestions.

Thank you...
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Regan Dixon
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I hope that your herbal remedy works, but from what I've heard, it tends to work better as a preventive, than as a cure.  Because mites burrow under the skin, diatomaceous earth may not be effective.  I would try to keep those sheep away from the others, and I'll see if I can dig up anything herbal for mites.
 
Regan Dixon
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I haven't been able to turn up much, but apparently there is a treatment designed for camelids that is reported to be effective against mites and lice.  It is 10% cedar oil (the active ingredient) and 90% silane fluid (the carrier).  Cedar oil shouldn't be hard to find, if you want to try that.  It shouldn't be ingested, but I imagine it's hard for a sheep to lick its own face.
 
Travis Johnson
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If you have some cedar boughs you could make your own cedar oil. This is a video I found on youtube on how to do it. I like it because she uses items from around the house.

 
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