Friday, May 8, 2009

Not Again

I think I mentioned in the last post that I took Greta Grub into the vet on Monday to have quills removed. (She's the furry face in the side bar.) That day didn't turn out so well. I was out of sorts when I picked up Greta-only to learn she had a staff infection on her skin that required antibiotics. Something to do with folic-itis or something. My conversation with the vet didn't go so well. I chalked it up to being really tired-and he agreed that I did indeed look really run down. Like I needed serious rest. "You're going to go home and take a nice long nap, right?" he soothed. You know you are a mess when a stranger is concerned about your health. Yes, I was tired, but I would like to think I was just having a really bad day and it showed.
Well, since that humiliating experience, I've made a few more trips to the vet...

It's a very good thing the sheep have been sheared-it probably saved Arvada's life. Monday I noticed that he was looking pot bellied. I made a mental note to de-worm him soon. Tuesday morning I found Arvada as ballooned as I've ever seen an animal before. Full term pregnant ewes can't even compare. So I mixed up the bloat remedy from my sheep book and did my duty administering it and holding a dowel in his mouth until he started burping. Eventually his side bulges reduced and I left him to burp the rest on his own. I repeated this remedy again Tuesday evening as it seemed he was puffing up again. Throughout all of this he was snorty and ornery and still very interested in eating.
Wednesday morning I looked forward to a nicely recovered ram lamb. What I found was Arvada even more bloated than before and huffing for breath. I treated him again and sensed that I was only slightly diminishing the problem-not solving it. So I called up the vet in Gonvick and they could see him in the early afternoon if I brought him up there. Thank goodness Shetlands are small and they fit in dog crates!
Somewhere in all this worry I consulted my friend Gail and also Clancy. The real puzzle is that Arvada had been on pure alfalfa for 2 months, and I switched him to a regular grass bale the day I noticed his pot belly. He has not had a single blade of fresh grass yet, nor has he had any grain. And my other three rams on exactly the same diet were just fine. I was pretty anxious this could be something more sinister than bloat since there didn't seem to be any ordinary causes for it.
Arvada traveled really well and the vet was able to see us right away. She was super great with him-a true gentle soul. She decided to put a tube down into his rumen to see what type of bloat he had. It was frothy bloat: which meant that his rumen was full of noxious "soap suds" rather than just pent up air. If it had been air the tube would have released it and everything should have been a lot better for him. Instead, she administered a heavy dose of mineral oil into the tube and that was that.
I had been worried about water belly as a possible cause of his state, but he relieved us of all doubt by peeing on my shoe while we were working on him. When the tube got pulled out of his mouth it sprayed me head to toe with mineral oil. I'd like to think it was the oil still in the line, but I'm pretty sure it was from the submerged end. And I began to think "I put on mascara for this?!!!!" Remember the comment about looking really tired. Oh well.
The minute I got back home I had to unload Arvada, coax all the sheep off the grass back into their pen, and feed everybody. The boys had a performance at school Clancy and I were supposed to go to. We were just a bit late.
Next day, Thursday, Arvada looked a lot better, but still puffed up after his morning meal. Since the boys had a choir concert that night and we were going to be gone all afternoon and evening, I decided to give him some Rumen-Eze and probiotics. I figured he'd be safe enough till we got back. He was. But Greta greeted us at the door with another face full of porcupine quills.
I told the vet this morning that Greta was looking for a summer job to pay off her vet bills. Truthfully, I think she's becoming an anesthesia junkie.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I think Gretta needs to go to summer SCHOOL to learn her lesson about leaving porcupines alone -- she's obviously not learning from facefuls of quills!

So did you ever figure out what caused Arvada's bloat? I have not dealt with that yet, and now you've got me just a bit worried!

Becky Utecht said...

I wondered about what was causing Arvada's bloat too. We had a ram lamb last year who would puff up quite a bit, but he never acted sick, so I never treated him for bloat. Then I saw him at his new owner's place after shearing this spring and was totally shocked at how puffed up he was on his left side. As far as I know, he just has a tendency to puff up.

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

I actually only have a guess at the cause, but since his bloat was the type that is really a "sheep upset stomach" I think it might be this:

The day before he puffed up I fed a large mat of the outside of a round bale of alfalfa. I put it yucky side down so only the good underside was facing up. But I think he might have dug down through it and ingested some of the yucky outer peel of the haybale.

I was trying to clean up what I had so I could see how much more I might need to finish out the spring. I fed it to all the rams that day. Maybe they just had more sense not to eat the icky part. Or maybe he's just sensitive. I even took the tarp off the haybale storage area that week and let the wandering ewes clean up all the chaff they wanted to. They only took the good stuff too and no one got sick.

Arvada is back to normal and eating his good alfalfa with zeal. But I will definitely be more careful with him next time and not trust him to distinguish good from bad anymore. I don't think he has ever puffed up before so this must have been pretty serious.

Live and learn...sometimes the hard way. I'm just glad he's better. I can't wait to use him this fall. :)

Nancy K. said...

You poor thing!

I think I'd sell the farm and move in to town....