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Don Bailey, D.V.M.
25th Year With sheep!

By Nathan Griffith

Don E. Bailey, D.V.M. of Roseburg, Oregon is a role model, mentor, medical advisor, lamb and wool promoter, and just plain good company to be around.

This 1981 photo of Dr. Bailey was used in the first issues in which he appeared in sheep!
This 1981 photo of Dr. Bailey was used in the first issues in which he appeared in sheep!

I still have my copies of the two issues of sheep! in which Dr. Bailey began to help American flocks enjoy better health by answering readers’ sheep questions (May and June of 1981). “Those questions still come, sometimes from other veterinarians. Sheep knowledge is getting scarcer and is no longer required in vet schools,” Dr. Bailey says.

Dr. Bailey laughs that one of his first suggestions was to “Never get more sheep than your wife can take care of!” He’s only half joking when he says it-during his long days at the clinic in the 1960s, his delightful wife Betty worked their new ranch while also caring for their three children! Evenings and weekends the doctor labored on the ranch, after clinic work.

The Baileys have been champions in the sheep industry. From giving children’s tours of the ranch to handing out samples of lamb meat at public events, to worldwide travels addressing flockmaster meetings and seminars they have done it all.

Last year Dr. Bailey told me that “if it hadn’t been for Linda (his daughter who helps run the ranch) all that lambing work would have about finished me.” But he keeps at it. Now at his 80th year, he still runs a couple of hundred ewes, and also cattle, even several dozen beehives!

I once mentioned to Dr. Bailey that he had become quite a “living legend.” He said with a fun chuckle that that was the best kind of legend to be. Don and Betty Bailey are unpretentious; always full of good cheer.

I remember once while talking to Dr. Bailey, my wife came in with a question about a milk cow of ours that had suddenly taken mildly ill. He quickly told me what to do, then asked me to pass the phone to her. Then he started right in on the leg-pulling: “Oh she’s probably just lost her cud” he joked. “Look around in the pasture and see if you can find it-it will look like an old sponge or rag. If you can’t find it, then all you have to do is make her a replacement cud: An old sponge or rag will do. Just put a little bacon fat on it and slide it on down her throat.” By that time I was laughing uncontrollably on the other line. He giggled, “Now don’t you put that in the sheep vet column; somebody might really do it!” Despite his good humor, everyone learns a lot from Dr. Bailey. He can be very serious, especially on serious subjects, but he’s always a gentleman, not a scold.

The issue in which Dr. Bailey started answering sheep questions. sheep! was not yet one year old.
The issue in which Dr. Bailey started answering sheep questions. sheep! was not yet one year old.

Like hundreds of other sheep! readers, I’ve sent questions to Dr. Bailey. He patiently answers them all, with Betty still dutifully typing them up for us. (You know doctors’ handwriting!) She got her start typing for her husband back in vet school days, and has done it ever since.

Dr. Don Bailey is not a glory hound-a few years back, when I asked him to stay on with the magazine after it changed hands “because we all know he’s the best” he modestly named vets all around the country and even in foreign countries that he admired, suggesting I might do well to get their opinions, too!

I soon discovered sheep doctors the world over defer to Don Bailey. Recently (sheep! July/Aug. 2005) we reported on the latest award in his honor “Dr. Don E. Bailey Practitioner Of The Year Award,” for sheep and goat practitioners who excel in community service, mentoring activities, small ruminant vet work, and in awards and recognitions. The honor is bestowed annually by the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, which added “Our association is better because Don put his stamp on it. We therefore announce the award named in his honor.”

He has been president of Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and assisted in establishing the School of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University.

He has served as president of the Oregon Sheep Growers Association.

He received the Meritorious Service Award from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and the prestigious American Veterinary Medical Assn. Award for Contribution to the Advancement of Veterinary Science and Education. Dr. Bailey has received recognition in foreign lands as well, including the high honor of a ram’s horn shepherd’s crook from the Brits. And what an honor it is to present his great knowledge to sheep! readers everywhere.

In recognition of his long service to sheep! readers, the publishers decided to commemorate this momentous anniversary with a glorious naturally colored shepherd’s throw blanket, beautifully made from all American wool by Peggy Hart, of Massachusetts. We hope that in this heirloom, flockmaster Dr. Bailey can really luxuriate by the fire after cold nights in that lambing shed.

Dr. Bailey has served the readers of sheep for a quarter century, longer than any other person associated with the magazine. May the next quarter century be as rewarding and successful!

Excerpts from Dr. Bailey’s First Issues In sheep!

In May 1981, sheep! founder and first editor, JD Belanger, introduced Dr. Bailey to readers:

Dr. Bailey's 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' throw blanket by Peggy Hart of Shelbourne, Massachusetts, in thanks for 25 years of service to sheep! readers.
Dr. Bailey’s ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ throw blanket by Peggy Hart of Shelbourne, Massachusetts, in thanks for 25 years of service to sheep! readers.

Dr. Don E. Bailey, practicing veterinarian, travelling lecturer on sheep health, and shepherd, will write a monthly flock health column for sheep! starting in the June issue.

Dr. Bailey travels 25 to 30 times a year to give talks at gatherings of sheep producers throughout the U.S. He often conducts seminars for veterinarians when he visits an area.

There are about 100,000 head of breeding ewes in Douglas County where he has his practice, about one-third of the state’s total. When he is not travelling, he works full time in his practice, much of which is devoted to sheep. He also is secretary-treasurer of the American Association of Sheep and Goat Practitioners, which he helped to organize in 1967, and writes a newsletter for the organization.

Dr. Bailey, 55, and his wife, Betty, own and operate a sheep ranch at Roseburg, Oregon. They once had nearly 2,000 head of sheep, but have reduced the size of the flock to 208…

Teaser Rams

Question: How many teaser rams per 500 ewes do you use?-Riley Gillette, Spencer Iowa

Answer: The number of teaser rams can be as few as one to 200 or 500 ewes if they are kept in close confinement, say in a feed lot or small field.

Flockmaster’s Emergency Kit

Question: We heard you speak at the 1980 Indiana Sheep Day at Purdue University last April…you said that a cortisone-antemycin plus Terramycin mix would turn sick lambs around. Is this a pre-mix that can be purchased or must it be mixed, and if so can we do it or must our vet? You also mentioned Sulkymycin for scours. Is this on the market? Do you have any other suggestions for our medicine chest?-James A. Nowatzke, Union Mills, Indiana

Answer: The product I mentioned was Dexamycin that contains penicillin, streptomycin, cortisone, and antihistamine. This product has not been approved for food animals. Sulkymycin powder by Norden Laboratories, is a neomycin-sulfa soluble powder that is mixed with water and given orally to young lambs with scours.

Here’s a list of supplies I recommend for your medicine chest. The items preceded by an asterisk are especially important: *Penicillin-streptomycin combiotic; vitamin AD (injectable or water-soluble); clostridium perfringens C&D (enterotoxemia); Vitamin E/selenium compound (Bo-Se for white muscle disease); tetanus antitoxin; *5 percent dextrose solution (weak lambs) or oral Karo syrup-lactose preferred; *tincture of iodine (7 percent); *iodine scrub; antiseptic; dishwashing detergent for difficult deliveries; formaldehyde or other foot rot treatment; frozen colostrum and milk replacer; sore mouth vaccine (only if problem exists); *propylene glycol (pregnancy disease or ketosis); *uterine boluses (assisted deliveries and retained placentas); Pine Tar or KRS Spray; Sulmet, aueromycin tablets (scours); Sufon-o-mix; sulfa tablets (pneumonia, coccidiosis); bloat remedy; mastitis infusion tubes; sheep dip or tick dust; Ketostix (ketosis test strips); blood stopper (for docking); *slacked lime for disinfecting pens; *eye ointment for lambs; *Pepto-Bismol liquid and lamb scour tablets, and *5-grain aspirin.

Making C-Sections Affordable to Save Good Ewes

Question: When I was a vet student down at Davis, I took an Animal Science course in range sheep production taught by Dr. Donald Torrell. He spoke very highly of you, and mentioned that one of the many things you had done to help the sheep producers was to make your caesarean more affordable. Since I have had more than one sheep client tell me, “Well, if it means a caesarean, Doc, I’d just as soon shoot her,” I’ve been wondering what you have done to make the procedure more attractive to your sheepmen.-Jeffrey L. Gomes, D.V.M., Redmond, Oregon

Answer: Yes, we have always been “cheap” on the C-section price on ewes. First, because we wanted to do them, and second, we were anxious to prove to the clients how well they worked. It always seemed to be such a waste to “shoot them.”

If you figure your time at a dollar a minute for surgery, which is the lowest figure I’ve heard of, then a C-section on a ewe should be 30 minutes or $30. We charge $45 to $50 and we believe we are doing all right. [These were rates from over 25 years ago, not today!-Ed

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