Sheep/Shepherding/Bottle Baby Limping


QUESTION: We have a close to 2 week old bottle baby who is suddenly favoring his back right leg. We have only been raising sheep for about a year and this is our first bottle baby so assume I know nothing! After some research I have looked at some of the common things- I see no obvious sore or infection on the foot itself. His feet have changed from the soft pads to more like hooves, but are still in the process of changing, so I would not think I need to trim them yet. His elbow joint does seem swollen, but not hot to the touch (not sure how noticeable it should be though). His navel does not seem infected. He has not been around the other sheep yet except to meet them a couple of times, and has led a very sheltered life. No one saw him fall or trip or injure his leg, but it is possible something went unnoticed He is eating milk replacement in amounts typical for his age and size and starting to get interested in grass and grain but not quite "getting it" yet. He is using the bathroom regularly and seems active enough when he is not sleeping, which IS pretty often. Sorry for the essay, just want to narrow down the cause... Could it be that he just strained a muscle or joint? Or could this be serious?

I appreciate all the research you have done! It could just be that during some activity that the baby has overstretched the hip joint or twisted the elbow joint.  In  that the lamb does not have any swelling, redness,or heat, I suspect that in a few days, the lamb will be just fine. I do not belive that being a bottle baby has anything to do with it. We have had lambs that have been stepped on by the mom and recovered nicely.

Keep an eye on the lamb over the next couple of days to see if anything changes.  Hopefully the lamb will be able to go outside with the rest of the lambs and enjoy fresh air and some some light, which is critical for healthy bone development.  Don't worry that the lamb wont come to you when its feeding time, you are now his mom and when called ( we called "sucky") the lamb will come running!!

Let me know how things turn out. Write again.  I apologize for not responding sooner, I was gone all weekend! Its lambing season!

Best wishes.

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QUESTION: Thanks for the response! I do think there is a little swelling but no heat. I did more research about selenium deficiency. He does tremble in his sleep and sleep on his side a lot. I'm not sure if I'm just paranoid and reading too much into things but if a selenium deficiency is possible, what is the safest way to remedy the situation? At 2 weeks is he old enough to start on a mineral block?

This could be a host of things, but a single dose of Vitamin E or selenium.  If need be, then give another does a day later. Do not give more than two doses.

A 5cc injection of penicillin ( Sub-Q) is not a bad addition prophylactically.  If the lamb has a chance to graze on alfalfa (dry).that has good nutrient sources as well.

Make sure you are dosing the lamb replaces appropriately.  Also make sure you are giving the lamb - lamb replacer and NOT goat/kid milk replacer.  There is a world of difference as goats don't react to copper like lambs do and there is copper in the kid replacer.

I wish you well.


PS:  If you have not given the lamb the OET shot, ( 2cc) I would do this immediately. If it is tetanus, then your struggle will be long.


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Kari Wempe


I can answer most questions about raising, breeding, feeding, showing,typical illnesses, pregnancy, birthing, bottle feeding,showing and sheering sheep. I have raised sheep for show and production for 20 years. The breeds of sheep I am most familier with are Crossbred, Suffolk, Hampshire- basically black face sheep. I deal with the classification of meat sheep over bred for wool sheep.


I have raised a flock of sheep for 20 years on our farm. Very involved in 4H, FFA aspects and their rules, jackpot shows, state, regional, county and local shows.

Experience is my best creditial however, I have a college education and have taught many classes ( in other catagories), so I am familiar in the ways of teaching others.

Awards and Honors
Many breed awards- champion and grand champion awards in Kansas for the past 20 years, showmanship awards at local and state level in Kansas.

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