There is a saying - "A sick sheep is a dead sheep." A rather crass saying, but most of the time it is true. Sheep are very stoic creatures and it is difficult to tell when they are sick. A lot of times the shepherd/shepherdess doesn't realize that the sheep is sick until it is extremely ill and about to die. I check my sheep at least twice a day - morning and evening. I'm home most days, so I frequently look out the windows and/or go outside and observe my sheep (which I find very relaxing). However, even with all of this observation I still missed Ella's illness.
Two days before Ella died she started "blowing" (losing) her wool. Usually this means that they've had a fever or suffered extreme stress. Since we have coyotes that often get too close to the house at night, I thought that it was stress because she otherwise seemed fine. However, the next day she wasn't standing right so I had the vet come out. Dr. Brown drew blood and took a fecal sample, but told me that it didn't look good. Ella's blood was very watery - which meant that she was anemic. Immediately I thought "worms," but this didn't make sense to me because I had wormed my sheep several times this summer. Apparently this wasn't enough. The lab results showed that Ella had a heavy load of strongyles that were depleting her body of nutrients. The vet said that the only way we could've saved her at that point was blood transfusion and blood transfusions in sheep are tricky because they have blood types just like humans. By the time we got the right type she still probably would have died.
Ella hadn't re-gained condition after lambing and because I had wormed her several times I thought her condition was a result of the low quality hay we had (finding good quality hay around here is quite the task, but we were finally able to get some at the end of August). Now I know better. From now on I will be more vigilant about worms. Per the vets orders, I wormed the whole flock yesterday and will do so again in a week. Hopefully that will take care of the issue and prevent this from happening again.
Rest in peace Ella....I'll miss you and your sweet woolly face!!
|Nera (L) and Ella (R) at birth|
April 22, 2009 - October 21, 2011
|Playing "Jump Off the Stone Slab" with Nera|
|"Woo Hoo! This is FUN!!!"|
|As Ella makes another leap back onto the slab, |
Lucy appears to be saying "Kids....whatcha going to do with them?"
|Taking a break from "Slab Jumping" for a sisterly snuggle|
|Ella at two months of age. Boy, lambs sure do grow fast!|
|Ella and her lamb, Chessa|