Mary is a pure breed Black Welsh Mountain ewe, about three years old.
Feed is pasture, hay, carb care (for the Se boost), as well as minerals, salt, &c.
Recently we've been cutting grass from their future pasture and feeding some to them once a day so that the shock when they go to their summer home in a few weeks won't be so great.
Mary is not just pregnant, she's very pregnant.
- On Friday she was listless and ate very little. More interested in pawing at food than consuming it.
- On Saturday, we noticed that the shape of her had changed and the lambs are now in the 'go' position. She was even more listless and standing up after lying down seems to be difficult. I thought because of the shape.
- On Saturday Night, she decided she wanted to stay in the jug but the other sheep kept chasing her out. So we closed the door and she is very happy in there.
- On Sunday, she couldn't go from standing to laying without my help. But still, eat, drink, poop and pee as per normal.
- Today (Monday), she won't eat, but she drinks. Her legs are wobbly when standing. Still peeing and pooing.
All through this, she's showing lambing sings of pawing at the ground, udders very tender but I can't get milk out of them yet. Saggy lamb hole, with clear moisture.
Weather influences. On Thursday and before, the weather was barely 10 degrees C high. On Friday, it got to 25, Saturday, 30, and now the temperature is hovering between 20 and 30 degrees C. This is very hot for our conditions.
On Saturday she drank a gallon of water. Since then, maybe a litre total.
I gave her a vitamin shot on Sunday. I was going to give her another dose today, but I discovered mine expired two years ago.
Question: Is she okay? At what stage do I call the vet? Should I be forcing her to walk around so she can keep digesting properly?
I'm concerned. I want to do the best I can for her, but I don't know what is best.
I did call the vet and left the details with his receptionist. He'll probably get back with an answer today.
My biggest worry is that she's having trouble standing and staying standing.
I'm feeling that the sudden temperature increase is a big factor. What can I do to help her cope?
She's in the shade, there's a breeze where she is, she has water, salt lick, baking soda (in case it was bloat), minerals, hay, some grain... what else?
Investigate the possibility of pregnancy toxemia, which is a condition that can affect heavily pregnant ewes shortly before birthing. It's symptoms are similar to what you describe and is lethal unless caught and treated early. Affected ewe's breath smells like acetone, treated by giving ewe propylene glycol.
I've been paying very close attention to how she smells and there hasn't been a change in the last few days. The urine smells pregnant but not of ketones. I'm going to look into this more just in case.
The breath is generally of sheep breath, but a little less grassy - more natural than normal. I was also curious if it could be bloat, but that has a very specific smell.
The vet got back to me. I basically left a list of symptoms with the "what signs should I worry" question. His reply is "I'm not doing sheep anymore, just dogs and cats." UG! Thankfully he will sell me one last vile of neucells which is a vitamin shot. That means that the nearest vet is almost two hours and a boat ride away. We don't have a good relationship with that vet.
Goat guru came back with the possibility of milk fever. In her (extensive) experience, the ears are the tell tail sign of this. If the ewe's ears are colder than the healthy ewes, then this is something to consider. Mary's ears feel the same temp as the others.
Good news is that Mary got up on her own just now. I offered her some livestock grade calcium (the kind that Pat Colby recommends) and she wasn't too interested. The other sheep love it. But she did go for some more baking soda. She's also had about two litres of water since this thread started. I'm wondering if it's an electrolyte imbalance from the heat.
Did you reach up inside and see how the lambs are doing? Its not that hard to pull lambs, and you might have a breech lamb.
If my ewes are showing signs of lambing and start to struggle after a few hours, its time to go inside and see what is happening, that is what they do for human babies.
Mike is right though in that it could be pregnancy toxemia. I have had a few sheep get that and sadly I have yet to have one recover from it. I did have one that we did a c-section on and was able to pull two live lambs. That was cool, and a first!
The vitamin shot seemed to be the turning point. The stuff I gave her the first time, expired two years ago. Not strong enough I guess. I gave her a full dose of the new stuff and about an hour later she showed dramatic improvement.
The first lamb popped out in about three minuites after the feet showed. Basically, I saw the feet and ran inside to get some towels, came out again and there was a lamb. The second one also came out front first but the nose tried to come out with the toes. So I pulled each leg individually so that it was straight ahead and the lamb slid out. Not sure if that's making any sense.
The first born was nursing as soon as he could stand, but the second born was almost half an hour later and had a lot of challenges finding milk. As soon as the second latched on, the first born would snatch the nipple away.
My worse thing is that I'm still learning when to act and when to wait. I don't like to give medicine too early in case it's not needed. Some medicines can cause more harm than good and sometimes my diagnosis is wrong and I might give the wrong meds. I think the Neucells is an excellent thing to have on hand as it solves maybe 80% of the challenges I've had with sheep. It makes me feel like I'm doing something and it helps the animal be strong enough to solve the problem for themselves.
But I am really bummed out about not having a vet as I really want someone who can tell me what to look for. I have sheep that is acting odd, how do I diagnose it? I have a gathering of gurus but they aren't always available.
Maybe I need to take some sort of vet training? We'll need a new thread for that.