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#1 TDearstine

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 02:46 PM

We just had a first for our little farm, we had a 2 yr old Ewe go down with toxcemia and after treatment with fluids and trying to induce her our vet said the ewe would need a cesarean, well we kind of balked at the idea but the vet donated her time and with alot of help from 2 vet techs and alot of pitching in by about 10 people we made a makeshift operating room and everyone in attendance got a front row seat, the ewe was carrying triplet suffolk X lambs that were very big, sadly we could only save one, they were about 7 days early, but the ewe after a tough day or so is now up and walking around wondering why she is missing part of her fleece! here are some pictures of the operation, if you dont like gooey stuff dont look! Tom

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#2 juliepoudrier

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 02:58 PM

Wow. Thanks for sharing. I'm surprised you were able to save even one, as I've always understood that lambs just don't survive unless it's very close (like within a day or two) of their due date. At least you have the one little survivor, and I'm glad the ewe made it too!

J.

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#3 1sheepdoggal

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 03:09 PM

Wow. Thanks for posting that. Glad mom and baby are doing well. Ive raised a few premie calves, and was always warned to watch out for pneumonia with these little ones. Something about their lungs not being quite fully developed yet.
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#4 Bill Fosher

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 06:01 PM

Usually the surfactant that allows the lungs to function isn't present until two days or so before birth. I've done a PM ceasarian on a ewe that was four days before what I thought was her due date, and gotten two live lambs out of the deal. Saving one out of three a week early is doing pretty well.

Is the ewe raising her lamb, or was she too compromised?

#5 Patty Abel

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:01 PM

Thank you for sharing. Glad you got one out alive and that the ewe survived. Will you take another chance on her? Or will these be her last lambs?
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#6 juliepoudrier

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:18 PM

Patty,
I don't know how a caesarian would affect future lambing prospects (maybe Bill will reply), but the pregnancy toxemia is not something I would be inclined to blame on the ewe, especially one carrying triplets.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

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Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#7 Bill Fosher

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:25 PM

My vet told me that about 85 percent of ewes will breed back following a c-section. The rate is better if you're removing live lambs, as opposed to what I was having him do, which was removing a dead lamb that had swollen up and couldn't pass through the pelvic opening.

#8 Patty Abel

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:29 PM

My vet told me that about 85 percent of ewes will breed back following a c-section. The rate is better if you're removing live lambs, as opposed to what I was having him do, which was removing a dead lamb that had swollen up and couldn't pass through the pelvic opening.

Yes, I was wondering if the operation would weaken the uterus... maybe the ewe would have complications again...
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#9 TDearstine

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:32 PM

Patty,
I don't know how a caesarian would affect future lambing prospects (maybe Bill will reply), but the pregnancy toxemia is not something I would be inclined to blame on the ewe, especially one carrying triplets.

J.


I think we will breed her again, the vet said it would be ok, if we were a little bit smarter we would have caught the problem earlier, the way she was acting at first was like she hurt a rear hoof, and now we know if we see one walking like that what we are dealing with, we are bottle feeding the ewelamb and it is here in the house, we have introduced her to mom and mom seems to know its hers, we are milking mom and its going strait to her, we just finished a bottle baby ramlamb and he is doing great and out with the flock now, our two B/C's love having her in the house,
Tom and Molly Dearstine
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#10 juliepoudrier

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 09:17 PM

Tom,
Can you give a more detailed explanation of how she was walking or how it appeared that she had hurt a hoof? We might all learn from your description. Thanks!

J.

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Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#11 TDearstine

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 09:43 PM

Tom,
Can you give a more detailed explanation of how she was walking or how it appeared that she had hurt a hoof? We might all learn from your description. Thanks!

J.


Sure Julie, at first she looked like she hurt a hoof and kinda just limped, the next day she looked like she had a double rear limp and started standing with a hunched back, we brought her into the barn and she would not lay down at night, ( we have a barn cam ) she just stood there with a hunched back, she still ate and drank at this time, we kept her in the next day and she went down and then would not get up, then we called the vet who told us it was probably toxemeia she cam out and we set up IV'S Now if i see one of our pregnat ewes acting like this I will know, this is only our second year with sheep, it sure is a learning process.
Tom and Molly Dearstine
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#12 1sheepdoggal

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 10:02 PM

What causes Toxemia in sheep? My mom had it when I was born, and she said I had to have a total blood transfusion when I was born because of it, had some thing to do with salt in the system?
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#13 juliepoudrier

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:19 AM

Darci,
I don't think it's the same in humans and sheep, but I don't know for sure. Another name for toxemia in sheep is ketosis. In short, the sheep isn't getting enough nutrition and will start to metabolize her own body fat in order to provide nutrients to the fetus, which is growing rapidly in late gestation. There can be multiple reasons for this, but usually with a ewe, say, carrying triplets, she just can't compete at the feed trough and so doesn't get enough feed, even if enough is being put out. Even if a ewe can compete at the feed trough, if she's not getting enough feed in the right proportions, she can also develop ketosis. It's generally a problem of ewes carrying multiples. (This is why I said I wouldn't cull a ewe for ketosis, as often the problem is a management issue.)

I have a friend who lost a couple ewes (and their lambs) to this. In her case I think it's because she changed the feed to something with lower protein than what I had been feeding, and this happened in late gestation. (We had bought a flock of bred sheep and I kept them for a few weeks before she got hers; when she got them home she started feeding a lower protein feed--corn, and I think that might have been the trigger in her case, since all the sheep were out of the same flock and had been managed the same way up to the point she took hers home--and those that stayed with me at my neighbor's farm had no problems.)

Apparently overly fat ewes can also develop ketosis. I have a couple of fatties that I'm keeping a very close eye on....

ETA: You can treat ketosis, but it's very labor intensive (propylene glycol drenches, among other things) and the minute you stop, the condition will come right back. The only way to save a ewe who is down with ketosis is to take the lambs, and even then you could lose the ewe. But a ewe who survives the C-section will then usually bounce right back. My friend lost one or two ewes and managed to save one, but IIRC, the lamb survival was extremely low, like maybe one lamb out of six. It was pretty heartbreaking with all that she went through trying to treat the ewes and save them and the lambs. So ulitmately it's better to make sure everyone is getting proper nutrition in late gestation and keep a close eye for symptoms so those ewes can be isolated and helped immediately. The symptoms Tom described are not typical, at least in my experience, which is why I asked him to describe them.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh



mydogs_small2.jpg

Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat, Twist, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



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#14 kelpiegirl

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:31 AM

Wow. Cool. Thanks for sharing the photos, and most especially going to the lengths you went. That mom is okay, is very very cool. You have a good vet. Keep us posted.
ps: I love his sweater!
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#15 Bill Fosher

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:11 AM

Sheep (and people) can metabolize fat -- that's what it's there for. The problem comes when it happens too fast and and the body can't keep up with levels of toxins that are released when fat is metabolized. The energy requirements of ewes in the last days of gestation and early lactation are more than double their maintenance requirements, and if they can't get it from the feed trough, they'll start burning fat like crazy. All the things that Julie mentioned -- competition for feed, inadequate quantities or quality of feed -- can all contribute to it but so can simple gut capacity. A large ewe carrying a load of three large lambs might very well not be able to stow enough groceries in her gut to keep up with the demands of her pregnancy and beginning milk production on top of her own maintenance. Like many metabolic disorders, correcting ketosis is like navigating in an ocean liner -- you can't just stop it, you have to slow it, and gradually change the course.

Just guessing here, but blood transfusion might have been a way of sparing the Darci's mom's kidneys from having to process the ketones, which are the toxic product of fat metabolism.

#16 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:53 AM

The c-section pictures were really interesting. Thanks for posting those! I used to have the vet do all kinds of stuff I'd never do now, just to see it done or get more information. I had a pair of bottle lambs that got no colostrum that ended up with crazy stuff like blood poisoning and joint ill and I was taking them in for twice weekly checkups for a while. We were doing bloodwork, and joint fluid taps, and I found out lots of interesting stuff about what one is actually fighting when trying to save a bottle lamb. Likewise I had a sheep break her shoulder and had the vet do the whole nine yards on her - I learned a ton from that experience. It was expensive in terms of just saving a sheep, but it was cheap for the quickie lessons in veterinary practice.

I had a ewe who would experience ketosis like clockwork about six days out from lambing if I didn't watch carefully, until I figured out there was a link between low magnesium in my forage and her ability to process, well, whatever. We learned that from doing bloodwork on her the last time she did it. She was a Dorset who was a very heavy milker and always carried at least two heavy lambs (like, over 20 pounds of lamb every single time).

The foot drag is a really sure sign. Also, anyone not bellying up to the bar immediately, is suspect. Ketosis causes nausea, vertigo, and "brain fog". I will quietly take my ewe flock for a walk at least once a day (right now 'm setting them out to graze for half the day, then gathering them up again) and if you do that, you'll see anyone who is lagging behind. If that ewe isn't in labor, she's at high risk for ketosis.

I've actually saved said ewe when she was down, without taking the lambs. It is labor intensive, but she got over it in a day or so and didn't need more than extra feed and peace and quiet for the remainder of her pregnancy. Ewes recovering from ketosis will only want "dry toast" - poor quality hay - for the first day, and during that time will need energy supplementation (I use Nutradrench or something similar). After that a whole grain (textured) supplement is best as the rumen is still rumbly, mixed with molasses and SBM.

We had another ewe who was carrying triplets who also went down and it was the same story. The vet was sure she'd need steroids (and the lambs would therefore be aborted), but I got some advice from someone to try a balanced calcium/mag/cobalt mixture along with the prop glycol and that got her going. Nowadays I would also use B and antibiotics as well to help stimulate the appetite and ward off opportunistic infections. The thing is that so often once you get one inbalance, it can cause a chain reaction so when a sheep goes down I'll just go for the kitchen sink.

I haven't had a ketosis case since those first years (except I think I lost a ewe to that last year, but it was a mistake when she got mixed in with working sheep for a clinic). However, just last weekend I had a girl go down with milk fever. I gave her the usual and it was the fact that she was up in moments after she got the cal/mag that clued me in on what the problem was. I ran more Ca subQ and she was fine ever since.

Sometimes I don't really think about what is bothering a sheep, I just throw everything at it and then afterwards think about what led up to the problem.

I'm really blah, blah, blah this morning, sorry - I'm sitting here waiting to hear back how the new foster puppy is doing today. One thing I like about sheep is how I'm rarely in this position with them, waiting by the phone to hear some good news after they've been in someone else's hands - or lab results, or whatever. Of course, you bury a lot more sheep than you do pets so that's just as well.
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#17 TDearstine

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:48 AM

Sheep (and people) can metabolize fat -- that's what it's there for. The problem comes when it happens too fast and and the body can't keep up with levels of toxins that are released when fat is metabolized. The energy requirements of ewes in the last days of gestation and early lactation are more than double their maintenance requirements, and if they can't get it from the feed trough, they'll start burning fat like crazy. All the things that Julie mentioned -- competition for feed, inadequate quantities or quality of feed -- can all contribute to it but so can simple gut capacity. A large ewe carrying a load of three large lambs might very well not be able to stow enough groceries in her gut to keep up with the demands of her pregnancy and beginning milk production on top of her own maintenance. Like many metabolic disorders, correcting ketosis is like navigating in an ocean liner -- you can't just stop it, you have to slow it, and gradually change the course.

Just guessing here, but blood transfusion might have been a way of sparing the Darci's mom's kidneys from having to process the ketones, which are the toxic product of fat metabolism.



Bill, thanks for your feedback, the vet said it was probably a gut capacity problem with our ewe because the triplets took up so much space, we halter feed our sheep, bring them in at night and everyone gets a seperate feed bucket so we can monitor what they eat, we only have 12 and since they are all 4 H projects we like them to be halter broke and friendly, the ewe did slow down on her feed but it wasnt dramatic, when she went down she would eat hay but very little feed, we monitored her keytones by catching urine and using strips bought at CVS, once she was on IV those went down fast, but still wasnt enough to get her up, it wouldve done more if we caught it earlier. thanks, Tom

Dont think i ever said what breed she was, she is a Montadale Ewe that we Xbreed with a suffolk/hampshire Ram.
Tom and Molly Dearstine
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#18 Burnandreturn

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:24 PM

Ah Ha Darci, Now I understand, Ketosis causes nausea, vertigo, and "brain fog". Did I read "brain Fog" !

It is amazing how much we can learn in a very short time. I think it is commendable that you went to the efforts and expense to save that Ewe. What an education.

#19 Bill Fosher

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:43 PM

Hi Tom,

Show sheep are especially subject to ketosis because the ewes tend to be on the big side (big sheep win shows) and pretty tubular (again, what wins shows), and breeders generally want pretty large birth weight lambs. The combination of their large size, hence a higher plane for maintenance, lack of gut capacity, and high birth weight lambs is a triple whammy that takes a lot of them down. Put three lambs that all go 10-12 lbs into a ewe that already has a small rumen, and there's not a whole lot that she can do until those guys come out.

#20 TDearstine

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 11:07 AM

Hi Tom,

Show sheep are especially subject to ketosis because the ewes tend to be on the big side (big sheep win shows) and pretty tubular (again, what wins shows), and breeders generally want pretty large birth weight lambs. The combination of their large size, hence a higher plane for maintenance, lack of gut capacity, and high birth weight lambs is a triple whammy that takes a lot of them down. Put three lambs that all go 10-12 lbs into a ewe that already has a small rumen, and there's not a whole lot that she can do until those guys come out.



Some bad news, the lamb turned for the worse late friday nite, she seemed to just get weaker and weaker, we were tube feeding her but something must not have been right with her digestion system, she didnt make it thru the nite, mom is doing ok, she seems to have founderd a bit, shes eating and drinking well but stands alot and changes weight on her feet alot, vet was there last nite but i wasnt, wife says she gave her some anti inflamatory meds, she seems ok this morning, Tom
Tom and Molly Dearstine
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