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Need lamb help

Deacon Dog

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15 days ago, we found a wether lamb that was having trouble getting up, and when he did he had trouble walking, not acting weak like he was anemic as much as like he was losing motor control. On examining him there was a gash above his ear, so we figured he had either gotten startled and run into something or stuck his head through the fence, and the ram got him. We isolated him and another lamb, but when he continued to deteriorate, I put him down 4 days later.


2 evenings ago, we noticed a ewe lamb hanging back from the others and a little wobbly. She rapidly got worse and was down yesterday evening, but, when I approached her she got up but had the same loss of motor control as the wether lamb. She was dead by this morning.


All the lambs have been wormed regularly and don't appear to be anemic. All have been on nothing but pasture for months and have minerals available. None of the other lambs or the ewes appear to have any symptoms. If there's a toxin, I'm not sure what it could be. We thought of tick paralysis and examined the ewe lamb carcass as best as we could, but it was difficult looking through the fleece.


Any thoughts?

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This makes me think of listeriosis. If it happens again a) take a temp and :rolleyes: I'd run the lamb up to Elkin if you can't save it. You can get listeria in the pasture when it has been really wet - that happened to a friend of mine after a tropical storm.




Enterotoxemia is another possibility, as is polio. If it happened again, I'd hit the lambs with LA and Vitamin B both.


Good luck!

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Listeriosis responds to penicillin, not to oxytetracycline. Our vet has us administer 1 cc per 15 lbs body weight twice a day. This is a pretty big dose -- 10 or 11 cc for a typical ewe. I also have had better luck treating listeriosis since I added Banamine to the protocol.


The guiding symptom for both listeriosis and PEM (thiamine deficiency) is unilateral paralysis. Sometimes this can look like a general lack of motor function, but there's nearly always a "bad side" if you look closely enough.


If the problem was strictly in the hindquarters, another possibility to consider would be a meningial worm carried by white tailed deer. But to have two animals come down with it in one season would be pretty rare.


I don't feel we can rule out internal parasites. Lack of anemia only rules out Haemonchus contortus; there are lots of others that do not cause anemia. Because it's a cheap and easy thing to do, I would probably take a few random fecal samples to your vet and see if anything shows up there.


Have you fertilized the pasture recently or had a sudden flush of growth? Hypomagnesemia or "grass tetany" could create general motor dysfunction. So could a calcium deficiency, but you would not usually suspect that other than right around lambing time or when young lambs are nursing heavily.

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Thanks for the replies; they didn't go unnoticed though I haven't had time to respond until now.


We wormed the heck out of the lambs and gave them a Vitamin B supplement. Our Southern States guy told us there were some coccidia outbreaks in local cattle and goat herds, so we treated for that although I don't think that was it. We found some acorns along a fence line, so we started giving them 1/4 pound of grain.


Thus far no more symptoms.

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