I researched the web and the text book the FFA teacher at school loaned me and learned that she probably had "bloat." She had "feed bloat" caused by excess fermentation of grain intake. The other kind is "frothy bloat" caused when sheep are released onto full green pasture, covered with dew sometimes, and they gorge themselves on green material after winter of dry hay. Both are very dangerous for the animal and can be fatal. It was Sunday, and I didnt have any large animal vet contacts, so we gave the treatments found on the web, (below) and hoped for the best.
The next day, Monday morning, I checked in before work, and the ewe was now down, with her head up, but wouldnt get up at all. At work I was finally able to get in touch with a large animal vet, his opinion was dire. He confirmed that it was probably bloat, and had same advise for treatment that I'd found on the internet (below.) He was very kind, but predicted she would probably be dead by the time I got home from work. His only suggestion was to continue to treat and wish for the best. I raced home during my lunch and ran up to the sheep barn still in my "teacher clothes" to check on my sick ewe. She was up and active, her tummy flatter and much more pliable, and she was eating hay! I gave the whole group a quick dose of the dry baking soda per the vets advise, and Hilda (the sick ewe) one more big drink of the soda water mix.
Treatment for sheep bloat can run to the extreme, in dire cases they suggest puncturing the side of the sheep to quickly release excess gas to prevent death from collapsed lung. Thank god we spotted our bloated sheep in time, and were able to cure the bloat by:
- 1. Removing all grain feed, replacing with only dry hay
- Feeding the bloated sheep mix of baking soda, water and mineral oil- about ½ cup soda, ¾ cup warm water to dissolve soda, plus a couple tbsp mineral oil. I didnt have any large syringes to administer the mix, so I used an old plastic Dasani water bottle.
- Manually massaging, (gently) the bloated tummy to help force out gas
- Encouraging the ewe to walk to help eliminate gas
- Feeding other sheep dry baking soda in a pan, they help themselves to a few bites, to prevent bloat in rest of flock
The one good outcome from this scary situation, Hilda the sick ewe, is now much more tame due to all the handling. She is actually eating out of my hand.