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HELP! Can't figure this one out


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I'm freaking now.

I have 3 ewe lambs, black Rambouillets, that were all born Feb of this year - 2 are twin sisters. They've been shown all summer, so weren't out on pasture. They were wormed a few times this summer and given Vit E/Se shots at weaning age. They've been fine - heat bothered them some this summer, but all and all were looking very good this fall. Then about 3-4 weeks ago, I noticed the one limping. Figuring she'd just pulled a muscle or something; I didn't worry. She was eating and acting normally otherwise. It got progressively worse until I thought maybe she'd hurt her back too. Now she eats, is alert, but doesn't like to get up and move around a lot. She's lost some weight, but seems healthy other than the lameness/slightly hunched back. Then about 1 week to 10 days ago, her sister started acting the same way - lame on one front leg. OK, they were shut completely into the barn at this time, I found it hard to believe another one had hurt herself. So, I tried giving them both a Vit E injection - it didn't seem to "cure" them, but neither are worse, and the newer one does put her foot down and doesn't seem as bad and hasn't gotten worse. I've been waiting to see what is going to happen. Now tonight, my third ewe is just slightly lame - front leg. She has been growing and doing beautifully. I had cut grain back and was giving more hay (in case it was founder or something like that). I'm freaking. These are beautiful girls and 2 are signed up to show at NAILE next month. Besides that, I don't want to lose them because they are of great bloodlines. They are on a mixture of Kent 20% lamb pellets (off that for a few days, ran out), grain mix with supplement pellets containing Bovatec in it, and alfalfa mix hay (same as I've had all summer and they've been eating some since June).

Anyone have any ideas? I'm totally stumped on this one - and it's probably something stupid I should have recognized at once. They seem perfectly normal other than the lameness issues and the trouble that causes them, but they eat and are alert. Any and all suggestions are greatfully accepted and appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Hello Jordi44,


Your lambs may have a problem with foot rot or scald, but my first thought after reading your post was laminitis (aka founder, and you even mentioned that as a possibility in your post). You wrote that the lambs are eating a combination of 20% lamb pellets, a grain mix (protein % not given), and alfalfa mix hay (protein % not given), which all combined may be a "richer" diet than they truly need. If these lambs were mine, I would cut back on the "octane" of their groceries, and this may resolve their lameness problems. Hope that this helps!



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Thanks for the input.

What's foot scald? Know about foot rot, never figured out why we haven't had it before, but I've looked at their feet - hooves are solid, nothing seems wrong there - are even fairly well trimmed from being shown.

Don't worry - I don't take sick or problem sheep to shows - besides, we still have to use health papers around here - although I don't put a lot of faith into that keeping "sick" sheep out.

The grain mix is only about 12% protein - so it isn't too high - and this is pretty much what they've been raised on. I have cut back on the grain to see if that helps. Thanks again for your help.

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Scald is an infection between the toes. If the area between the toes is moist, irritated, or inflamed, chances are that's what's going on. While it's easier to treat than foot rot, it's still a seriolus infection and can predispose the sheep to foot rot. It's commonly found in animals that are in long grass or muddy conditions where the skin between the toes gets scraped up.


Treatment is still with zinc sulfate. The difference is that you only need to stand them in it for 10 or 15 minutes to treat scald, as opposed to 30 to 60 minutes for foot rot.


What is the protein level for the total ration? If I were going to cut back on something, it would be that 20 percent pellet and perhaps the alfalfa -- or replace the alfalfa with some good quality grass hay. As lambs grow, their nutritional needs change dramatically. At this stage, they are probably need much less protein and much more energy than they did just a couple of months ago.


I'm guessing that these lambs should be well over 100 lbs by now, and entering the slower, finishing stage of growth.


If I were feeding these lambs for market, they'd be on a ration of shelled corn (about 10 percent CP) and whole soybeans (about 35 percent CP) blended to produce a 14 percent concentrate ration. They'd be getting high-quality grass hay (limit fed) that would be about 18 percent protein. Total ration protein level should be just a touch over 14 percent -- certainly no higher than 16 percent.


I'm guessing your total ration is more like 17 or 18 percent?


Whether that's the cause of their lameness or not, it's an unecessary drain on your wallet. But then, I've never fed for shows.

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Scald is a possibility - I've started treating them with some med I had left from my daughter's pony for thrush, but will try the zinc footbath.


I use the pellets just as an add in to tempt them to eat in hot weather or if I have one that needs boosted. My daughter bought a ram lamb that was having trouble with diarrhea (possibly coccidia as he'd been wormed numerous times with about everything from the sound of it) so I added pellets for him to help (he was thin and the pellets are medicated for coccidia). The hay is first cutting, so while it does have some alfalfa in it, it isn't a large percentage. I haven't found anything wrong with their feet - but they seem sensitive when I'm handling them - but then, they're also fighting to get away. They haven't been on pasture, but we have been muddy. I'll try treating for foot infection of some sort - it won't hurt, and might help.

Thanks for all your help - especially Bill - I always count on some good input there. Sadly, this board is a better info source than most of the vets I've dealt with.

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