Weak Lamb

A place to exchange ideas, stories, and to solve problems related to breeding the flock and delivering lambs.

Weak Lamb

Postby Sheepandakom » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:03 pm

I had a lamb born Sunday night and something isn't right. She seems to want to stand, but can't. Her neck curves back and to the left in the position a sleeping lamb would tuck it. She can lift her head a little more today than she could yesterday, but can't seem to hold it up on her own. She looks like I imagine a lamb would look while they were still in the womb. The lamb is fairly large, but I'm not sure of the weight since I didn't weigh her. She is out of one of my small Cheviot ewes and a Border Leicester lamb. This is the ewe's 3rd lambing and her previous lambs have been vigorous and healthy.

I gave a shot of BoSe on Sunday but realized that I had probably underdosed, so I gave her a second .5mL last night. I also gave .25mL A/D and have given .5mL vitamin B Sunday night and last night. The lamb nurses well from a bottle and seems lively other than the fact that she can't unfold or get up. I have been milking out the ewe and supplementing with milk replacer, too. She nurses vigorously. When I feed the lamb, I support her neck so that she is upright.

I am thinking this is probably white muscle, but I haven't seen anything like this before. Suggestions?

Emily
Sheepandakom
Newcomer
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:33 am

Postby irenafarm » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:41 pm

You are kind of in my area. The drought did something to the calcium in the soil around here and this year I supplemented with calcium for the first time in addition to the BoSe. I had fantastic results - doubled my lambing rate and had zero lambing trouble and vigorous lambs, where I was having spotty trouble last year, plus a couple ewes that actually had hypocalceimia.

Try a teeny squirt of Cal-Mag, plus treat for pneumonia (unlikely since you've got good suckling, but never hurts). That's one ml of Penn-g (didn't we go last year and buy some of that together? LOL).

Low calcium hampers their ability to uptake vitamin E and Selenium. BUT, don't go crazy. Give NO MORE than one cc per three pounds of so of the gel, then wait and see what happens. If you get some response, be patient. Wait until the next day, THEN give a little more. Lambs (as with all baby mammals) uptake calcium at a far higher rate than adults and you can cause moderate heart damage by going too crazy with the gel.

Of course, I could be way off base but it certainly won't hurt and you are right, it sounds awfully like white muscle. It's unusual to see it in a lamb that young but I've seen them mildly affected right from birth, certainly (confirmed when puny lambs take off after simply injecting with BoSe). I think it's the number one cause of post-birth problems around here, personally, our soil calcium and selenium is so very low.
Becca Shouse
Irena Farm
Semora, North Carolina
irenafarm
Old Hand
 
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 6:31 pm
Location: Semora, North Carolina

Postby Sheepandakom » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:20 pm

I was able to get some cal-mag gel at Tractor Supply, so hopefully I will see some improvement. She is already better today than she was yesterday, so I am hopeful.

Yes, we did get the penicillin last April. I have a new bottle that I bought a few weeks ago for this season. I will go ahead and give her some penicillin when I go back home after class.

Should I supplement my pregnant ewes with calcium? This is only my second ewe to lamb. The rest probably won't begin lambing until next week or the week after.

Emily
Sheepandakom
Newcomer
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:33 am

Postby irenafarm » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:35 pm

It won't hurt to squirt them all (if you can do it with minimal handling) with 30 ccs or so of Cal-Mag if they are VERY close to lambing. If you've got a bit of time, talk to your local feed mill about adding a supplement to your feed (or getting something you can add - food grade lime).
Becca Shouse
Irena Farm
Semora, North Carolina
irenafarm
Old Hand
 
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 6:31 pm
Location: Semora, North Carolina

Postby Tom Nichols » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:28 pm

Emily,
I am convinced that selenium nutrition is one of the basics of shepherding that you need to understand. It varies by location, so pay a local vet to help you get it right. Your operation can be very negatively affected by low selenium before ever seeing white muscle disease. If you see white muscle you have probably already hit the iceberg.

Tom
Tom Nichols
Lebanon, Oregon
Tom Nichols
Old Hand
 
Posts: 678
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2007 1:05 pm
Location: Corvallis Oregon

Postby Inci Willard » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:50 pm

For what is worth,I have never come across a newborn down with White Muscle disease as this disease usually strikes the fattest lambs at around month or little older and catching it timely is easy since they fail to follow the rest of the flock or their mama with gusto.

When a newborn cannot or refuses to get up,I check their mouth and their ears,if ears are cold to touch the lamb has not gotten any milk. from that point,I try to figure out the reasons.

Have you seen this lamb getting milk? Did you try to milk the mother to see if she has milk? Sometimes a lamb will stand up as if they are suckling but in reality they will not,during birthing some lambs may acquire injury to their necks are maybe reluctant to go to the motion for udder/tit search.

Grab the mama ewe,put her on her side and bring lamb to her tit to get her to eat (like a dog nursing her pups),if she's drinking that way,I suspect a neck injury that will go away or you can massage it a bit before yelling for a vet's help.

Tom,

Selenium deficiency,especially during winter months are closely related to wrong mixture of minerals. Most mineral blocks are geared towards cattle where the sulphur contents are greater than of sheep minerals and sulphur is a known cause for a sudden White Muscle disease in lambs.
Inci Willard
Old Hand
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:40 pm

Re: Weak Lamb

Postby irenafarm » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:28 pm

Inci, our soil calcium and selenium/E are so low that truly I've seen white muscle in baby lambs, as well as the ill effects on adult sheep that Tom describes. Heat tolerance is a problem (everything seems to affect this), and at lambing time ewes may have difficult births that can be blamed on the ewe, wrongly, when it's a selenium deficiency issue. Lambs are born weak and susceptible to opportunistic disease like pneumonia, or even dead from a long difficult birth. Lambs stunted by this poor beginning have a reduced ability to battle parasites later, or gain on grass.

I use a supplement made just for sheep, by long time sheep growers, with the highest possible calcium and selenium allowed. I use only feed formulated for sheep. I add high quality rice bran to the winter feed. I have our hay tested for selenium levels periodically and try to stick with that producer (but it's not cost effective to test every year). And still our adults' blood serum selenium levels hovered at minimally deficient levels.

There's only so much you can input orally if they aren't getting it in their grass. So our ewes get one shot of BoSE at the beginning of the grazing season. And then again in prepartuition along with their CD-T booster. Lambs get one cc at birth, and another at two months with their first vaccines.

I used to get tons of weak lambs and problems with pneumonia and poor feeders. Just like magic this stopped when I started the prophylactic BoSE shots, and my lambs are vigorous and rarely even need jugging. Not hardy wash and wear hair sheep, but woolies, fine wools.

The other thing I started doing was to put down lime every other month at the rate of 200 pounds per acre. By the time we left our previous place, we were just getting a healthy, varied pasture that drew comments from our landlord. With nothing but grazing the heck out of it and putting that lime down. I used my little pull behind spreader and a lawn tractor and did three acres every two weeks so that our 12 acres were all done by the time I'd rotated through them all.

I'm thinking of trying one other thing this year that probably will help - something of an experiment. Since I've got such a tiny flock, I'm going to put out probiotic granules for them and see whether it makes a difference. Probiotic levels in the gut are key to uptake of minerals. I'm talking to some people about how probiotics work with ruminants, though.
Becca Shouse
Irena Farm
Semora, North Carolina
irenafarm
Old Hand
 
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 6:31 pm
Location: Semora, North Carolina

Re: Weak Lamb

Postby Muleflock » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:46 pm

Anybody have problems giving BO-SE to pregnant ewes? The label states:

CONTRAINDICATIONS DO NOT USE IN PREGNANT EWES. Deaths and abortions have been reported in pregnant ewes injected with this product.

Mark
Muleflock
Old Hand
 
Posts: 1993
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:24 am
Location: SW Michigan

Re: Weak Lamb

Postby Sheepandakom » Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:26 pm

I talked to the vet today, and based on what I've observed/felt with this lamb, we've narrowed it down to two options. Neither of them nutritional. The first is that she was injured at birth and had some sort of trauma to her spine. The second is that she has some sort of birth defect that has caused her to have a twisted spinal column. If it is a birth defect, the vet thinks it might have been caused by Cache Valley Virus. I had never heard of this before, but the info and photos she gave me look and sound a lot like what I'm seeing with this lamb. The other option was Spider Lamb Syndrome, but she's out of a small Cheviot ewe and a Border Leicester ram, and it seems to be something that only shows up in show flock Suffolks and Hamps.

If we x-rayed, we would know for sure, but I just can't justify the cost. What we're doing is giving her banamine 2x a day for 3 days. If she improves, the problem was probably an injury at birth, if she doesn't there is probably something wrong that we wouldn't be able to fix without spending a lot of money. We talked about my feeding program and the vet really doesn't think this is a nutritional problem.

Emily
Sheepandakom
Newcomer
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:33 am

Re: Weak Lamb

Postby Muleflock » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:37 pm

Sheepandakom wrote:I talked to the vet today, and based on what I've observed/felt with this lamb, we've narrowed it down to two options. Neither of them nutritional. The first is that she was injured at birth and had some sort of trauma to her spine. The second is that she has some sort of birth defect that has caused her to have a twisted spinal column. If it is a birth defect, the vet thinks it might have been caused by Cache Valley Virus. I had never heard of this before, but the info and photos she gave me look and sound a lot like what I'm seeing with this lamb.


Hi Emily,

Where do you live? From the lambs I've seen with Cache, I'm not so sure that would be it. One way to be sure would be to test the lamb for antibodies to the virus.

Mark

"Cache Valley (CV) virus, a bunyavirus found throughout the USA, Canada and Mexico, infects a wide variety of domestic and wild animals, and humans. Transmission occurs through bites of infected mosquitoes. The majority of infections in sheep are subclinical. However, when infection occurs in ewes during the first trimester of pregnancy, the virus may cross the placenta and may produce embryonic death, mummification or fetal malformation, including arthrogryposis, torticollis, scoliosis, lordosis, hydranencephaly, microcephaly, porencephaly, and cerebellar and muscular hypoplasia. Infections that occur in the last two-thirds of pregnancy are clinically innocuous to the fetus. The demonstration of specific CV virus antibodies by neutralization test in sera of malformed fetuses or precolostral serum samples of newborns is the best method to corroborate intrauterine infection. Currently, there are no vaccines or treatments available to protect sheep against CV virus infection. Ewes that are exposed to CV virus and are seropositive before breeding are protected from reinfection and the adverse effects of the virus on pregnancy. Breeding ewes outside of the mosquito season may help reduce CV virus fetal infections. However, short-term changes in weather patterns during a particular season may result in renewed vector activity and increased risk of fetal infection. Cache Valley virus-seropositive animals are not protected against infection by bunyaviruses of a different serogroup, some of which may induce similar fetal pathology."
Muleflock
Old Hand
 
Posts: 1993
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:24 am
Location: SW Michigan

Re: Weak Lamb

Postby NNP » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:26 pm

I am interested in what happened to the weak lamb who couldn't get up which first appeared as a post in mid February.

We just had a ewe deliver triplets earlier today. Two are fine, but the third lamb wanted to get up, but couldn't. It couldn't hold up its head either. It was very much like a rag doll, so it couldn't nurse on its own, unless we held it. We are assuming it was some traumatic injury, since the other two are fine at the moment. Looking through our books and on line we couldn't find anything except Daft disease in Border Leicesters. There is no Border Leicester in the parents. The other disease that jumped out was Swayback, but the other two lambs appear to be fine.
NNP
Newcomer
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:09 pm

Re: Weak Lamb

Postby Sheepandakom » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:11 pm

The lamb didn't improve. We aren't sure what caused it because I didn't send her off to the state lab. The rest of my lambs have been big and healthy.

Emily
Sheepandakom
Newcomer
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:33 am


Return to Breeding and lambing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests