Sheep/Shepherding/pregnant ewe


QUESTION: Hello Kari,
About three weeks ago, I went to the barn to feed and was missing one ewe.  She's just over a year old and due to lamb within the next few weeks.   I found her laying in the pasture, unable to stand.  I brought her in and thinking that it might be bloat, I treated her with mineral oil.  The following morning, she was alert, but still unable to get up.  I gave her Nutri-drench for a couple of days and then stopped to see the results.  She's eating and drinking well.  Everything seems to be passing through fine.  She can work her way around the pen by getting up on her knees, but the back end has no strength.  When I lift her, she tucks her front "elbows" under her for support and then attempts to trot away.  This is probably very amusing to the neighbors because I'm still supporting the back end.  She hasn't had a fever throughout this.  She's been getting commercial sheep and goat feed due to our drought which resulted in poor pasture condition and poor quality hay.  She has had access to a mineral block containing selenium.  Any clues?  All advise would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Bev

Sorry for the delay in answering, I have been away and not had any e-mail available...
My thought is that your ewe has Pregnancy toxemia.  This is not unusual due to you change in feeding habits because of the poor weather, previously.  
My best responses is to give your ewe a solution of either molasses in water ( 1 tablespoon of molasses with water drench) or if you can get your hands on propylene glycol drench that will be very helpful, you should see results pretty quickly.  

You can also follow up with an injection, sub-q, of a commercial calcium solution with added glucose (Calcigol Plus and Flopak Plus (4 in 1)).  This will help if she is also suffering from hypocalcaemia. Basically killing to bird with one stone.

You may need to continue this treatment for a few days.  Often times, the babies, especially if she is pregnant with twins or triplets, will replete her system of sugars and calcium. If she is dehydrated, you may need to drench her with 1 liter of water.  If you have some good hay..that will also increase her energy.
Good luck.. Hope she lambs well!!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Last friday, I was lucky enough to be present when this ewe went into labor.  I assisted in birthing two very small (4.5 and 5 lbs.)  ewe lambs.  They are doing really well with bottle feeding.  I'm still giving 40 cc daily of Power Punch to the ewe.  This is a high potency nutrient and energy drench manufactured by Vets Plus, Inc.  I've also added calcium w/ vitamin D (600mg) daily to her grain.  She is  getting good hay, fresh grass and the grain.  Her appetite is good and she's drinking plenty of water.  I kept the lambs with her for moral support and she's a very attentive mother.  She has been down for about a month now.  She can still bring herself up on her knees and uses her back legs to shove herself around in a circle.  Do ewes suffering Pregnancy Toxemia usually recover?  If they do, what are their chances of lambing successfully in the future?  Nobody else in the flock seems to be having any issues.
Thanks again for your reply,

Hi Bev,
It does take a while for the ewe to recover. I would continue to give her the Power Punch but I will supplement that with oral propylene glycol or corn syrup to be 200 ml four-times daily along with 3 to 4 liters of an electrolyte solution if she becomes dehydrated.

I am hoping the lambs are able to nurse her as well.

If she can keep her strength up, she will do fine in the future. You will probably have to keep an eye on her when it is time to impregnate your flock.

Encourage her to try and stand. Laying around causes an increase in lactic acid with is hard on the kidneys.  Thank goodness the sun is starting to shine and it is warm.

If you feel the need to have a vet  see her, please have him/her make a farm call. Transporting your ewe is ill advised.

Keep up the good work!!



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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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