Bottle jaw is the vernacular term given to pendulous lower jaw swelling in sheep, cattle and goats.
The swelling is a soft tissue edema cause by anemia that is characteristic in animals that are carrying a heavy load of blood sucking internal parasites – better known as worms.
Most often in sheep the worms are Haemonchus contortus – called “barber pole worms” because of the red and white twisted appearance in large female worms. But other worms, namely Ostertagia circumcinta and Trichostrongylus colubriformis can also cause a bottle jaw.
What you need to know about bottle jaw is that if you see it in your animals you have a serious problem and must act quickly.
That’s because especially in sheep, most often the first sign of a heavy intestinal parasite load is sudden death.
In sheep, cattle and goats, diarrhea, weakness, weight loss or thriftiness will sometimes also accompany a bottle jaw.
The treatment for most common worms is simple.
First check around to see what wormers work in your local area. Internal parasites can and do develop drug resistance.
Here’s what I do:
- First administer a wormer.
- Confine the animals for 24 hours after worming so they can pass out the dead worms. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water.
- Release the animals onto clean ground or pasture that has had no livestock for at least 2 months.
- Repeat again in 10 days.
At present in my area Cydectin or Ivermectin are effective by injection, drench or pour on. I believe both wormers are off label for goats but are still used. Eprinex , Dectomax, Prohibit, Rumatel, Nematel, Strongid, Tramisol and Valbazen are all good wormers but may have drug resistance where you live. There is drug resistance in my area to Panacur and SafeGuard.
Not all wormers are the same so be sure to read the label and pay attention to the milk and meat withdrawal times.