Death Happens Quickly On the Farm

Saturday morning I went out and found a dead ewe. She was quite stout and healthy appearing except for the being dead part but the previous evening, she hadn’t come up to eat. I checked her, noticed she was quite weak, and worried that she had stuck her head through the fence and nibbled on some bracken fern. It grows on the other side of the fences and there isn’t much greenery in our dusty pastures at the moment. It was dark, my flashlight wasn’t working, and there wasn’t much I could do in the diagnostic department. The next day she was dead, with a bloody discharge from the nose. That is what bracken fern poisoning looks like in cattle, but I *think* it is just supposed to cause blindness in sheep. It could also be pasteurella pneumonia which manifests when the sheep are stressed, whether by hot weather, drought, breeding, weaning, all of the above which are occurring right now.

This evening, another good ewe was affected. She wouldn’t come up to eat, her legs were trembling, and she was having trouble standing. I gave her a hefty dose of oxytetracycline just in case it was the pneumonia. She had a snotty nose, was weak, and having trouble breathing. *sigh* If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. If it is bracken fern poisoning, she’ll be dead by morning. I hope it isn’t. There’s nothing like disposing of a 150 lb. dead sheep that has been lying around in the heat and humidity all day, unless it’s disposing of a 1,000 lb. cow or horse. Plus, it’s supposed to be raining.

One of the newly hatched little biddies was having trouble walking today, and I noticed that he or she was growing more listless through the day. I moved six of the little ones to an outside pen with the hen mom that came to rescue the chicks from my collection efforts. I left the dying chick underneath a hen still on eggs. Two additional chicks were hiding another hen, and I’ll leave them there with her inside the permanent hen house.

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    kcduffy said,

    Hope this day is better.

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