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  Don Bailey, D.V.M. Vet Check  

    If you’re puzzled about a sheep health problem, write immediately to Dr. Bailey at the above address. He thoughtfully responds by mail to your sheep questions, and some of his answers get published in sheep! to help readers with similar problems.

    Please do not ask Dr. Bailey to practice medicine over the telephone. If you have an immediate problem, call your local veterinarian.

    Always remember to check with Dr. Bailey for a second opinion. Questions sent via E-mail to sheepmagazine@citynet.net will be forwarded to Dr. Bailey.


Repair Of Broken Horns

We have five Jacob sheep, one of them being a young ram. The problem is the ram caught one of his side horns on the doorway while coming into the barn. We left it alone, hoping that it would be okay. It has been a month now, and he keeps bumping it. Should we cut off the last inch that is left and use our dehorning iron to cauterize it? Every time he bumps it, it bleeds for a while. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.

C. Sluder

Andover, Ohio

You have two choices—you could have your veterinarian cast the two horns together with plaster of Paris or fiberglass to stabilize the horn base and give it a chance to heal. I would leave it on for four to six weeks.

Or you could de-horn him and do both horns, of course.

Your veterinarian would give nerve blocks to stop pain and then remove a ring of hair around the horn base so it would not grow back.

Concerning your dehorning iron, yes, the cauterization would discourage horn regrowth.

Will Castration Stop A 4-Year-Old Ram From Butting?

I befriended a ram that has always been staked out away from the female sheep. He was always so sweet, and when I found out that they were going to get rid of him I took him.

In general, he is not aggressive but he has tried to ram me and my husband once or twice not very hard, but still, it’s a shock. Will castrating him stop that? I ask because he is in a place where people walk by and I wouldn’t want him hurting anyone. So far, I have never seen any aggressive behavior towards people walking past, only slightly towards me and my husband. He’s a large black ram with a Roman nose and if he chose to he could hurt someone.

Also, the plan is to put him with two females in a small field. If he is sterilized but not castrated will he be compelled to try and escape to seek other females which are in the neighborhood?

In answer to all these questions, I opt for castrating him, but my husband finds it to be a cruel thing to do to him at such an age (four). Any advice would be most appreciated.

Robin Brinster

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This is an age-old question and my experience has convinced me that castration in older rams does not change their habits.

So I would favor putting him in a pasture with two to three ewes and your husband staying out. I can visualize that big black Roman-nose ram breaking your leg.

In castrating older rams with big testicles, I suggest the use of the cattle elastrators. Your veterinarian can use a local anesthetic above where the elastrator goes, before you apply the elastrator.

[Editor's note: A company that makes the kind of elastic-band castrator that Dr. Bailey refers to advertises regularly in sheep! The device is called the Callicrate Bander. Please see their ad on page 49.]

Strangely Lame Ewe

I have a nine or 10 year old Columbia cross who all of a sudden is lame. She had really, really long hooves that were trimmed in August.

In October she was placed in a pen with another ewe I did not want to breed. She was fine for about four days then went down. She would not get up unless lifted and set on her feet.

She was acting like either her hips or lower back hurt, and I started her on two aspirins, twice daily. Her appetite was fine if we put food and water down in front of her or placed it near her after we got her up.

After several days we noticed that she was always stretching her head straight up but keeping her nose down and tight to her body. It is a very specific stretch I’ve never seen the sheep do before.

She was also “high stepping” with just her front right foot. My friend thinks she had a stroke because she is generally weaker on the right side. I was thinking that her feet were just asleep from her being down so much.

She appears to walk better the longer she is up. I went to the vet and asked for some “Bute” [a buterol steroid to relax smooth muscle and help build muscle mass—Ed.] to help with any pain she might be having.

She was doing much better the first two weeks on “Bute”; even getting up by herself before we went out to feed or check on her. Now, however, she is back to needing assistance getting up and stumbling and falling forward after helping her up. Again, after awhile she walks better.

It looks like her feet hurt her and not so much like it is her back or hips. It seems to be worse when it is wet and colder out. I normally would not go to so much trouble with a ewe, but she was a bottle baby and a pet to the whole family. I don’t want her in pain, but I can’t sink a lot of money in her either.

I don’t see any evidence of foot rot or anything else going on with her feet. I’ve never had a sheep with foot rot, only a ram that had a plugged duct between his front toes. Any advice would be appreciated.

Tracy Christensen

Kennewick, Washington

Your friend might be right, it sounds like a neurological condition.

A stroke does act the same way, one side more affected.

There is also an intermediate form of a tapeworm called Gid that would act the same way.

You might look for any paralysis of the lip or eyelid and look into both eyes to see if the eye dilates and constricts.

Also you might be looking at a case of ryegrass staggers—I would expect to have more animals showing the same symptoms.

I know the feeling we all have for our pets or bum sheep. Our daughter left us with seven pet wethers that are eight years old now, and serve no purpose other than mowing the grass in the front yard.?





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