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Maralynn

cull or second chance?

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I had my first problem (in 12 years)with a ewe prolapsing just before lambing this past spring. I think it was related to both selenium deficency, and lamb malpresentation.

 

Now I'm trying to decide if I should cull her or not. She has lambed before with no problems. I've got a full sister to her that has always been great at lambing. The other thing is she is in great shape and only 3-4 years old.

 

Any thoughts or opinions?

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I've only ever had 2 ewes prolapse. One prolapsed the next time she was bred after she did it the first time, so don't be surprised if she does it again. The other that did it was a daughter to the first one. I've never had a problem since. There are "retainers" you can get - but I don't know anything about them. I don't know if they can be used to help prevent it (in a case such as this) or if they are only used after the fact. I would evaluate how good of a ewe she is (past performance, etc.) and how you feel personally about her - you wouldn't be the first person to keep one you shouldn't. I think everyone, sooner or later, has that one that is a lifer. Good luck.

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I find it nasty and difficult(well by yourself it is a b... with 2 people not as bad but will happen after you get dressed for work at 7am) to put a prolapse back and post care is not fun either.if none of that bothers you and you have more reasons to keep her than do what you think is best but be prepared she will prolapsed next year.Lana

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But do others a favor, do not sell her. Ground ewe is actually better than beef.
No can do - she's got a name :rolleyes: I'd have to send her to market.

 

I do like her as a ewe, but if there is a very good chance it will just happen again next time around I will probably sell her. I just don't know enough about prolapse to figure out what my odds are.

 

I've got 3 or 4 "lifers" already :D - including a 15 year old blind one.

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Once a ewe has prolapsed her vagina, there's almost always some damage to the tissue that can make lambing more difficult even if she doesn't prolapse again. You could be looking at not just another prolapse, but a choice between putting her down at lambing time or having the vet out for a Caesarian section.

 

And unless you're around all the time at lambing time, remember that prolapse can be fatal. If the urethra is blocked. the bladder can rupture.

 

All things considered, I would say that in a small part-time flock, a ewe with a history of prolapse is probably not worth keeping. You may actually be doing her a favor by shipping or eating her. I'd much rather die from a bullet in the head than septicemia due to a ruptured bladder.

 

As to whether to keep her ewe lambs, I'd be inclined to give them a chance. I'm not sure whether there's any research on the heritability of vaginal prolapse, but I suspect it's low to moderate. Many sheep producers follow Elizabeth's advice -- better safe than sorry is the approach. While it's not a bad approach, I think there are a lot of good ewe lambs that go down the road because of it.

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I don't know about your area, but around here there would be people with a small "working flock" who would be happy to take her as a training sheep and never use her for breeding again, as long as she doesn't have any other health issues. A friend of mine just "retired" a few 8-10 year old ewes who are happily helping teach a novice handler and her dog. At least she could live a useful life that way and "earn her hay".

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That is the best idea I have heard. Sell her as "Non-breeding" to a BC person needing sheep to just herd. But, whatever you do, please tell the buyer that she prolapsed. That is only fair. Best of luck with your decision. Glad I do not have to make it. It is difficult whenever a "pet" must be sold.

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Bill,

Thanks for the good explanation. It helps me look at it pretty objectively.

 

Laurie,

Thanks for for the other suggestion also. Something like that never crossed my mind! I might be able to sell her to someone who just wants handspinning wool also.

 

Anyway she'll be out of the breeding flock.

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Certainly some good ideas...it's always hard for us with non-commercial flocks to be objective. Touchwood I haven't had a prolapsed ewe yet...but it'll happen and no I wouldn't risk it again.

 

Have to say I now no longer name any lamb until it goes to the tup in it's second year.

 

Hope you find her a home.

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I've heard that prolapses that occur at a certain time are undoubtably something that can be passed on to ewe lambs - even if it seems incidental in nature. Unfortunately we packed up all our books when we thought we were getting the KAtrina family and I can't remember whether it was before or after lambing or how close.

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...it's always hard for us with non-commercial flocks to be objective.
You said it! I keep 20-25 ewes. I often think I need either half this many or lots more. If I had half the amount they wouldn't be as costly to keep as pets. But if I had at least twice as many it would be easier to manage them more like a business!

 

All of our ewes have names, but I'm only "attached" to about half of them. But we do give our 30-40 lambs goofy names - it helps take some of the stress away at lambing time!

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It may have been in Storey's, which is definitely in the stuff I packed up. Which was kind of dumb.

 

Next time I'm at TSC I'll see whether they've got it and look it up. It's easier than unpacking those boxes. :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by Rebecca, Brook Cove Farm:

It may have been in Storey's, which is definitely in the stuff I packed up. Which was kind of dumb.

:rolleyes:

I have a copy of Storey's publishing -Raising Sheep the Modern Way revised ed. 1989 by Paula Simmons. On page 156, they mention that vit a deficiency, selenium deficiency or genetics can all cause prolapse. Even too much coughing late in pregnancy, a tail docked too short, or fat ewes sleeping on a hillside "butt down" can cause it (For selenium deficient areas they recommend selenium injection a week from due date (or earlier when the last covexin-8 vac is given)to increase muscle tone and counteract prolapse, per "experts at the USDA Sheep Station in Dubois".

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The one I've got (somewhere) is the 2001 ed - Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep. I had the '89 edition too but I foolishly loaned it to someone who never returned it. :rolleyes:

 

It really had to do with the timing of the prolapse and I'm not 100% cure I saw it in Storey's.

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All right, found my Storey's - that's not where I saw the article (of course not, that would be too easy!). There's a very detailed discussion on selenium deficiency and its relation to difficult partuition and potential prolapse, however. I was also surprised to note that there's a suggestion there that selenium deficiency may become a more widespread problem as increased forage yields deplete the topsoil. Higher stocking rates also exacerbate the problem. They didn't give a reference for that, however.

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With Icelandic sheep it is highly recommended to give BoSe (Vit E/selenium) shots at laest two weeks prior to lambing time. But it is not just prolapse. Lambs can be born with white muscle disease and more. If you are not sure about the selenium and other mineral content in your area go to the USGS link below. It list the lower 48 states county by county. I have the highest Se of my county. Not good but better than some. USGS County Mineral Map

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OR you can just get your forage and soil tested! :rolleyes:

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Actually, the best approach is to have the livers of slaughtered lambs tested. Having the soil tested tells you how much selenium is available to the plants, but not how much they take up. Having the forage tested tells you how much selenium is available to the sheep, but not how much they take up. Having the liver tested tells you whether the selenium in your feed is getting through to the sheep in adequate amounts.

 

Some friends of mine in Canada had to increase the selenium level of their mineral to nearly five times the recommended level before their sheep's livers and blood showed adequare mineralization.

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Yes, that sounds great. I'd do that if it didn't seem under control now. Lambs born with WMD sounds really scary! Glad I never had that - I probably would have given up beofre I got started! The yearly WMD just before weaning was frustrating enough when I had that.

 

Soil and forage evals are free, though, and give me sufficient information to get my ewes healthy and lambs in good condition. Maybe someday I can figure out how to do that locally and we will get a snapshot of exactly how successful our amendment/correction project has been.

 

We're looking into an interesting possibility - a rotation of forage that will help bind Ca into the soil, which is where this cycle of depletion apparently started (old monocropped corn fields). If this works, in about twenty years we may not have to supplement! :rolleyes:

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If soil and forage evaluations are free, you go! The only way I can get free soil testing is from a fertilizer company, and if I want mineral analysis, I have to pay for that because they aren't going to sell me a selenium soil amendment. Last time we did it, Se was $30/sample. Liver analysis is more expensive, but at least you get the real answer.

 

I would encourage you to get a liver sample done even if you don't think you have a problem. I was shocked because we sent in livers from three very good lambs, and the best of them was borderline okay. The others were borderline deficient. Our forage and soil both tested low normal -- about what you'd expect for a deficient area. The experts would tell you that there's no need for additional supplementation beyond a standard sheep mineral based on those tests, but the livers told a different story. My theory is that there's too much iron in our soil and that it's inhibiting uptake of all other minerals, not just Se, but that's just a theory. In any event, there's a pretty broad window between no WMD and good blood and liver levels.

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I'll ask around about the liver eval but it's a bad time of year right now. Maybe next year.

 

Yeah, we get a lot of free services but I don't think in MA you have some of the obligations to return stats to the USDA, either? In CT you don't I know but I think I remember thinking when I read about participating states that you were not in one. It can be a tradeoff, especially for the big fruit growers and row croppers that have a ton of information that they want.

 

But hey, they can get soil and forage analysis for free anytime! :rolleyes: There's one report they just raised the price to a whole $5 - maybe the biological activity report? You shoulda heard the outrage!

 

PMs are free, too, with a vet reference - is that true there? I can actually ask for a liver analysis on a dead lamb if I take it for a PM, but of course that would be a waste of a lamb. I rarely do PMs anymore, though they were well worth it when I first started.

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