Tag Archive for animal health

What You Can Do To Make Your Veterinarian’s Job Easier

My veterinary practice is purely mobile at this point.
I travel to peoples’ homes and farms to see their animals.
This can go very smoothly, or it can be an exercise in frustration depending on what is going on.

Some people call me for an appointment and are prepared for my arrival.
Others think they are prepared and really aren’t.
It’s when owners aren’t prepared that things can be very frustrating. Here are 7 things you can do to help make my job, or any traveling veterinarian’s job easier .

1. Remember That I’m Coming
Yes, this has happened. I get to a farm ready to do something and the owner isn’t there. I call from the barn to make sure they are coming out…and they went to the store. When this happens, I still have to charge for my time. It’s frustrating because I could have been helping someone else. If you have to be somewhere else, please just call and let me know!

2. Have The Animal(s) Caught
Few things can waste my time more than waiting for an unprepared owner trying to catch the flighty animal.
On any given day, I can have one farm call or several farm calls for that day. When I’m prepared to start, having to wait for folks to catch an animal is very frustrating.

Chasing A Heifer In The Farm Yard

Chasing A Heifer In The Farm Yard

This is especially true one days when I have more farms to visit and it takes a half an hour or longer to corral an animal. Have your animals in the barn or in a pen. They don’t have to be tied up. They just have to be where we can get to them quickly.

3. Have The History Ready
Many times when I’m heading to a farm, I only get a quick summary over the phone; just enough to let me know what’s going on.
When I get to the farm, in order to help the animal fully, I need to know everything that has gone on, as well as that particular animal’s history.
It makes a big difference when I’m treating a downed animal to know how old it is, whether it’s pregnant or not; if there was anything it may have eaten, or if there was an injury.
It also helps to know how much time or money you are willing to put into the animal. Tell me ahead of time what the animal’s purpose is.
If it’s a food animal, there are medications that I can’t give them. I don’t want to treat your animal with certain usable drugs if that animal is going to slaughter in X number of days.

4. Tell Me What You Have Already Done or Not Done
When I come to treat a sick animal this is important for me to know.
If you have already given a pain medication, please inform me, so that I don’t give it again and overdose your animal.

Sick Ewe

A Sick Ewe

Tell me what you have already tried, so I can try something different, or tweak what you have already done.
And let me know which medications you have on hand, and which ones you don’t. Speak up and tell me what you are comfortable doing for the animal and are able to do. That information can help me plan the treatment of your animal.

5. Have the Paperwork Ready
If you are taking your animals to shows or to fairs, or selling them, it helps me to know ahead of time where you are going.
With that information I can double-check the requirements for you.
If you are going out-of-state, there may be extra tests the state you are going into requires.
Also there may be additional things a particular show wants you to do.
Be prepared for that. Because if I find something that is required and you didn’t know about it, I will let you know. Keep in mind that there are time frames for when I can do exams, tests, and CVIs before shows, fairs or sales. Knowing ahead of time when to schedule me to come out is important.

6. Tell The Truth
I can’t tell you how unbelievably frustrating it is to go to a farm and have an owner flat-out lie to me about what is going on with the animal.
I do the physical exam and come up with a likely diagnosis, but the owner swears that it can’t be that because of X, Y, or Z that they did.
When you lie to the vet, we can’t help you or your animal.
Our job isn’t to judge you. Our job is to help you give the best care to your animals.
We can’t help you take care of your animals if we don’t know what’s going on. I don’t care that you made a mistake and forgot to give a medication or gave the wrong dose.

Pony Waiting For The Vet

A Pony Waiting For A Farm Call

I don’t care if you forgot to lock the pen and they got out and into something they shouldn’t have.
I don’t care that you should have being doing something, and didn’t because of time or money constraints.
I don’t care about any of that.
What I do care about, is that I know about everything so I can treat your animal appropriately.
With misinformation, I may treat your animal inappropriately; which terrifies me, because I could accidentally kill your animal. Just tell me the truth when I show up, and I will help you find the best way to take care of your animals.

7. Listen and Tell Me What You Don’t Understand
Another frustration many vets have, are clients who apparently listen to everything we tell them…and then don’t follow through on treatment.
Most of us went through at least 8 years of school to become veterinarians. Many of us went to school even longer because of Masters Degrees and internships. We learned all the building blocks of diseases and treatment plans, so we can go out and help people care for their animals. When we have worked with you to come up with a treatment plan, and then learn on follow-up that you didn’t complete the treatments needed to help your animal that hurts us because it means you don’t trust us.
When we are going over the treatment plan, or explaining the reason why we are recommending this vaccine or this prevention management, if there is something you don’t understand just tell us. I for one am happy to go into more detail as to why I’m doing something. If you don’t agree with something I suggest or recommend, tell me why so we can work something else out.

Veterinarians work hard to help people take care of their animals. We didn’t go into veterinary medicine for the money; we chose the profession because we care. We went through 8 or more years of school in order to practice in a profession we love. And we all swore an oath:

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

So when you call us to come take care of your animals, remember veterinarians put a lot of time and effort into what we do. We will work with you to help you care for your animals.
But you have to help us out too.
Respect our time and we will respect yours.
Tell us what we are going to be seeing on your place so we can plan accordingly.
Let us know what you have done already and what you are willing to do.
Be honest with us.
Whenever I go onto a farm or to some one’s home I have sworn to do my best. But I need your help. Please keep in mind the things that you as the animal owner can do to help me or any veterinarian, to do just that.

Dr. H

***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen.
Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.

If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013

Common Veterinary Abbreviations, Words and What They Mean

With every profession there seems to be a secret language or code spoken for the purpose of confusing everyone else. Veterinary medicine is no different with our alphabet soup of acronyms and abbreviations that we use as short hand.

Usually I remember to ask my clients if they understand what I mean when I give them instructions. But sometimes I forget.
So here are some of the ones I commonly use in practice and what they mean.

When Giving Injections –
1. SQ or Sub Q – subcutaneously, this means you give the shot under the skin. Most animals you can tent the skin and slid the needle into the tent.
2. IM – intramuscular, this one is a shot given in the muscle. Most animals you give the shot in the neck muscles, some you give in the muscles of the back leg. I’ll often show my clients how and where to give these shots before making them do it on their own.
3. IV – intravenously, this is an injection I will not have you do because so many things can go wrong if done improperly. This is an injection into a vein. With most farm animals I use the jugular vein, with dogs and cats I use their leg veins.
4. IN – intranasally, meaning into the nose. Equine strangles vaccine and canine kennel cough vaccines are often given this way.

Filling A Syringe

Drawing medication into a syringe

When Giving Medications –
1. PO – per os, this simply mean giving something by mouth or oral medications
2. SID or q24hrs – this is short hand for giving something only once a day
3. BID or q12hrs – short hand for giving something twice daily
4. TID or q8hrs – short hand for giving something three times daily
5. QID or q6hrs – short hand for giving something four times daily
6. EOD – short for giving something Every Other Day
7. mL or mil or cc – milliliter aka cubic centimeter, both mean the same amount. 1 mL is equal to 1 cc. This is an amount of liquid I want you to give as an injection or as an oral med.
8. mg or mig– milligram, this is an amount and a weight
9. kg or kig– kilogram, this is a unit of weight that the rest of the world uses and so is the standardized way for veterinarians to record and calculate weights. One kg is equal to about 2.2 pounds or lbs.
10. mg/mL or mig per mil– milligram per milliter, this is a concentration. For example, the common antibiotic LA-200 has a concentration of oxytetracycline of 200 mg/mL. The anti-inflammatory Banamine has a concentration of 50 mg/mL. I use these concentrations to help me figure out how many mLs I need to have you give your animal.
11. mg/kg or mig/kig – milligram per kilogram. When I’m calculating doses, I’m often given the appropriate dose as “give this number of mg per kg of animal weight.” For example with Safeguard, the dose for goats is 10mg/kg. I have to know how much your goat weighs so I can turn that into kgs and multiple things together to get you the correct dose.
12. IU – international units, this is another concentration often found on the labels of penicillins and vitamins. Instead of mg/mL, the concentration is IU/mL
13. X – I use this one personally; another vet may use something different. I use it when I want someone to give more than the labelled dose, for example “Give Safeguard at 5X the labelled dose,” when I want you to take the labelled dose and multiply it by 5. I’ll also use it to tell you how many days I want you to give it. “Give Safeguard at 5X the labelled dose X 5 days,”
Hopefully these clarify some of the label directions that I, or another vet, may give you and you can translate “Give Safeguard at 5X labelled dose PO SID X 5 days,” and “Give 4.5 cc/100lbs (9mg/lb dosing) LA200 IM EOD X 3 treatments.”

Where Things Are Located On Your Animal –
1. Rostrally – towards the nose. Usually I’m describing something on the face
2. Cranially – towards the head
3. Caudally – towards the back-end
4. Dorsally – towards the back or spine area
5. Ventrally – towards the belly
6. Laterally – towards the side
7. Medially – towards the center
8. Distally – away from. Usually used to describe something on a limb
9. Proximally – near to, another one used to describe something on a limb.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But hopefully the next time you talk to your vet, you’ll be able to better understand what we’re talking about when we forget to translate.
Dr. H

***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen.
Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.

If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013

Retained Placenta in Sheep & Goats – Treatment & Considerations

Normally after lambing or kidding, a ewe or nanny will expel the afterbirth or placenta within an hour or two.
But sometimes the placenta can be stubborn about being released during the cleansing phase of lambing or kidding.

Planceta Expelled Within A Couple Of Hours After Lambing or Kidding

Normally The Placenta and All After Birth Is Expelled Within A Couple Of Hours After Lambing or Kidding

In sheep and goats a placenta that does not evacuate the uterus after about 12 hours or so is known as a retained placenta.

There are several possible reasons for retained placenta in small ruminants. Too much grain, low quality hay, a overlarge lamb or kid; lack of exercise, nutritional deficiencies, premature birth, stillbirth, abortion and infection are all associated with retained placenta in livestock.
Retained placenta is usually no cause for alarm as long as a few simple guidelines are followed.

Sheep Plancenta

Normal Sheep Placenta Shed Shortly After Lambing

It’s is safest not to try to manually remove the placenta.
Often the placenta is completely retained and there is no sign of it.
But sometimes the retained placenta will be seen hanging out of the vulva. After 12 hours or so, little harm will be done by very gently testing the adhesiveness of the placenta. In such cases if the placenta doesn’t readily flop out of the ewe or nanny after a very slight tug – leave it alone.
What is important to remember is that the placenta is attached to the uterine wall by disk-shaped cotyledons. If you try to pull the placenta away from the uterus before it is ready to be shed, you can injure the ewe or doe and run the risk of adversely affecting her future pregnancies.
Pulling on the placenta also increases the chances for bleeding and infection.

The best course of action is to prophylactically protect the ewe or nanny with an antibiotic and keep a very watchful eye on her.
In ewes or nannies that have retained their placenta, I use 10- 20cc of injectable penicillin (Penicillin G Procaine – 300,000 units per ml) via a SQ or IM injection every 48 hours until the placenta is released.

Injectable Penicillin G

Injectable Penicillin G

Most often the placenta is sloughed away within 3 – 5 days and the ewe or nanny will go on with life as if nothing happened.

Ewe With Lambs

Border Cheviot Ewe With Lambs

If the nanny or ewe should go off her feed she may need an injection of Dexamethasone as a supportive therapy. Dexamethasone is a synthetic analogue of prednisolone. It has a similar but more potent anti-inflammatory therapeutic action than prednisolone and is available only on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Pick The Time Of Day When Lambs or Kids Are Born

Did you know that the way a pregnant ewe or nanny goat is managed can influence when she will lamb or kid, and how quickly she’ll lamb or kid?
It’s true.

Sheep In The Snow

A Group Of Pregnant Border Cheviot Ewes

The time of day that a pregnant ewe or nanny goat is fed can influence when she will lamb or kid and how quickly she’ll lamb or kid.
Sheep and goats tend to lamb 6 hours prior and 6 hours after the time of their grain or main feeding. Knowing this can be of great benefit to those who would prefer to avoid late night or early morning lambing and kidding.

If you prefer lambing and kidding during daylight hours, feed your ewes and nannies around noon. It will result in most lambs and kids (70%) being born between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Also ewes and nannies tend to begin active labor when there is less human activity going on around them.
Human presence can slow down active labor so much that I personally make it a habit to leave the barn when I see an animal in labor.
Without me in the barn a ewe or nanny is able to get on with her business without the stress of the boss constantly watching over her.

How To Care For Umbilical Cords In Newborn Livestock

The vast majority of all farm animals come into the world healthy, strong and without the need for any human intervention. And for the most part Mother Nature does a pretty good job when given a fair chance. But with that said, there really is no such thing as a 100% guarantee when it comes to living things.

Usually when a baby farm animal is born the umbilical cord will break without any assistance. The baby’s mother will tend to the cord with licking and nibbling while the cleansing stage of her labor is completed (the evacuation of the placenta) .

There really isn’t ever a need to cut an umbilical cord unless the cord seems to be overly long and is dragging on the ground collecting manure and dirt. If the cord is too long and you want to cut it, some people will use clean scissors dipped in alcohol for large livestock, followed up with a sturdy tie on the cord. The umbilical cords of small ruminants can be shortened without scissors by simply being pinched off with two fingers right where the cords needs shortened. It’s a little like pinching slimy wet spaghetti.

Neonatal Kerry Calf

A Newborn Kerry Calf

One problem that is more or less preventable is something called “navel ill” or “joint ill”.
Joint ill is a serious bacterial infection and a common cause of lameness in neonatal foals, calves, lambs and goat kids. The infection enters the body by way of the navel and is usually caused by strains of E. coli and Streptococcus. These bacteria tend to thrive in damp, dirty bedding and muddy paddocks or yards. Navel ill is less common when animals are born outdoors on clean open pasture.
Navel ill always requires prompt medical treatment with a long acting antibiotic. It can be fatal if not caught in time.

Often baby animals that do recover from navel-ill fail to thrive or sustain permanent damage to their joints, eyes, heart, brain or other organs.
The symptoms of navel ill are:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Warm or hot joints
  • Redness or pus around the navel
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

The best way to prevent navel ill is by dipping or applying iodine to the umbilical cords of newborn farm animals.
In livestock the wet umbilical cord makes a perfect wick for bacteria to enter the body when it’s dragged along the ground or when the baby lays on dirty bedding or in a muddy yard.

Lamb Umbilical Cord

A Lamb Umbilical Cord

Ensuring that all animals give birth in a clean, dry environment will significantly reduce the risk of navel- ill.
The application of an iodine navel dip or other disinfectant to the umbilical cord and navel area as soon as possible after birth will also reduce the risk of bacteria entering the body via the navel. Iodine disinfects and drys up the cord and navel area.

Iodine Dip

Dipping The Navel and Umbilical Cord Of A Newborn Lamb With Iodine

If I can lift the animal I apply iodine directly to the navel area with a small wide mouth bottle. Spray bottle iodine works for larger farm animal babies like calves or foals. The important thing to remember is that the navel area should be well saturated with the iodine or disinfectant. I never hesitate to re-apply iodine if the cord does not seem to be drying up within a day or so.

And speaking of neonatal health and welfare; it is imperative that all newborn animals receive colostrum milk (mothers’ first milk) within 6 hours of birth. The colostrum milk is full of maternal antibodies and will help protect young animals against disease. A belly full of colostrum can maintain a healthy baby even when the environmental conditions are less than ideal.
Good animal management practices, sanitation and old-fashioned common sense will go a long way in helping newborn livestock get off to a good start.

Foot Scald & Foot Rot In Sheep & Goats

The ewe in the picture below has sore feet. Her kneeling stance is typical of either foot scald or foot rot. The ewe to the right of her, who is lying down, also has sore feet.

Sore Feet

Kneeling Is Typical For Sheep and Goats With Sore Feet

All foot problems in sheep and in goats should be investigated and treated as soon as possible. There are lots of different reasons for sore feet and foot rot isn’t always necessarily one of them.
But lameness in more than one sheep or goat is a red flag. Two or more limping sheep or goats is cause for an immediate evaluation of the entire flock or herd. Don’t ignore it or waste any time investigating the cause. I treat foot problems the same in both sheep and goats. For the sake of simplicity anything that goes for a sheep – goes for a goat except where noted.

Foot rot is an infectious and very contagious disease in both sheep and goats. Foot rot is caused by the interaction of two different anaerobic bacteria – dichelobacter nodosus and fusobacterium necrophorum.
Foot scald while not as serious as foot rot, can be just as painful and if not treated promptly can lead to foot rot. Foot scald is caused by the opportunistic interaction of fusobacterium necrophorum and another bacteria corynebacterium pyogenes during wet weather or damp conditions.

For the sake of better understanding, we’ll call the different bacteria, Bacteria #1, #2 & #3 for short, and make the words hoof and foot, toe and cleat interchangeable.
Fusobacterium necrophorum (#1) is a normal bacteria from the digestive tract of sheep and other ruminants.It can live up to 10 months in the soil. In wet weather fusobacterium necrophorum (#1) has the opportunity to interact with corynebacterium (#3) to produce foot scald.
Foot scald is an infection of the skin between the toes of the hoof and is the precursor to foot rot. Mud is the perfect vector for the above bacteria, and is easily packed in and squished up between the toes of the hoof when sheep are on wet ground. Keeping sheep on wet ground is a perfect recipe for foot scald even in sheep that are not genetically susceptible. More about genetic susceptibility later.
Once the hoof is compromised with foot scald, dichelobacter nodosus (#2) can begin to invade the foot. Dichelobacter nodosus (#2) produces an enzyme that destroys the connective tissue between the horn (the hard part) and tissue of the foot and allows the migration of bacteria under the horn. Once the bacteria are under the horn of the hoof it reproduces rapidly in the anaerobic environment. The bacteria are protected from air under of the hard covering (horn) of the hoof.
This is one of the reasons foot rot can be difficult to treat. It’s hard to actually get to the bacteria.

In my experience the best way to treat foot rot or foot scald is with isolation, a foot bath, trimming and Liquamycin -LA 200. It’s an injectable oxytetracycline solution. For dairy goats please consult your veterinarian before using LA-200 or discard milk and strictly observed milk withdrawal times.

LA-200 & A Syringe

LA-200 & A Syringe

Here’s what works for me:
First isolate the sheep into 2 groups -the limpers and the non-limpers. The two groups will be treated differently. Set up a bath for the non-limpers and make them walk through it.
Hold the sheep in the foot bath by a gate or hurdle if possible for a couple of minutes or so. After the foot bath move the sheep immediately onto fresh clean, dry ground.
Watch the sheep very carefully over the next week to make sure that none of them are limping even slightly. If you find another limper, move them immediately to the other group.
There are all kinds of products for foot baths, but a mild Clorox solution is what I use and recommend. Chlorine bleach is cheap and it is readily available.
The foot bath mix is 10 parts water to 1 part Clorox. If you don’t have a special trough for a foot bath or only have a few sheep, a plastic bucket with the bleach solution will work fine as individual or single hoof foot bath. Just stand each hoof in the Clorox solution for about a minute.
Don’t forget to wash your footwear too. Boots and shoes that have walked over contaminated ground will spread foot rot. That’s why it is so important to change your shoes before you go into the barn or pasture after you have returned from the sale barn, auction or from visiting another farm.
Now back to the limpers. Confine all limpers onto a heavy bedding of fresh clean straw and proceed with the treatments below depending on whether or not you have foot scald or foot rot.

Examine and trim all 4 hooves – not just the lame one. The hoof with foot scald usually looks moist between the cleats (toes) and is slightly reddened. Clean out any packed in debris and wash between the toes. Next apply between the toes, a light coating of LA 200 with a syringe that has had the needle removed.
To fill the syringe, draw the LA 200 up into the syringe with the needle attached and then remove the needle. LA 200 is runny and can be hard to control where it goes. Drip and drizzle the LA 200 over the entire interior wall and skin between the toes. Any place that looks moist or inflamed make sure that it gets well covered. After treatment, keep the sheep on clean dry straw for a week. A difference in limping will probably be noticed within 24 – 36 hours. LA 200 applied directly to the scald is an extremely effective treatment for foot scald.

The hoof with foot rot will have a foul smell. You can’t miss it. The hoof will sometimes look crumbly, soft or will peel away. Sometimes the bulb at the back of the heel will be over soft, white or spongy. Sometimes the hoof will be bloody.
Clean and well trim all 4 hooves. Try and trim the hoof so that a line of white or faint light pink can be seen around the fresh trimmed rim of the hoof. Try not to over trim or the hoof will bleed. Using the same treatment for foot scald, apply LA 200 directly to the foot with a syringe that has had the needle removed.
Next with a clean needle attached to the syringe, give a 10cc IM injection of LA 200, divided into two 5cc doses, into two different injection sites. Be aware that LA 200 is an extremely painful injection -it really burns. Expect bucking, rearing up and general carrying on from your sheep when you give it.
Keep treated foot rot sheep on dry clean bedding for at least 7 -10 days before they are turned out again. Do not let the sheep return to infected pastures or paddocks. Dichelobacter nodosus (#2) can live on pasture for up to 14 – 22 days.
Once the disease mechanisms involved are understood, both foot rot and foot scald can be prevented and eradicated with careful flock management.
Genetic Susceptibility
Any breed sheep or goat can end up lame given the right conditions, mismanagement and bacteria. As a rule sheep with black hooves are less prone to foot rot. Fine wool breeds or sheep with white, pink or striped hooves are much more prone to foot problems and don’t do well on wet ground. Polypay, Merino, Dorset, Finn, Rambouillet and Columbia breeds of sheep have given me problems in the past. I think if my farm was drier they would do better for me.
Some individual sheep and Angora goats particularity seem to have a genetic susceptibility to foot rot. I have often wondered if it is not some type of innate immune system problem. I just don’t know. But what I do know is that sheep or goats that show a susceptibility to foot rot or foot scald and don’t respond well to treatment should be culled from the flock or herd and their offspring not kept for breeding.

Try This Simple Trick To Make A Ewe Accept Her Lamb

Every once in a while for whatever reason, I’ll get a ewe that doesn’t want to properly mother her lamb or lambs. In sheep it is vital that within the first minutes after delivery, a ewe see, smell, hear, taste and touch her newborn lamb(s).
A strong ewe/lamb bond is formed by those behaviors. Any post-delivery interference between the ewe and her lamb(s) can upset the natural course and cause the rejection of lambs or poor mothering behavior.

Ewe Rejects Lamb

This Ewe Refused To Accept One Of Her Lambs

It’s worth mentioning that a ewe that experiences a relatively easy delivery sometimes will not have as strong a maternal instinct as the ewe that has had a harder labor and delivery. The intense pressure of the lamb in the birth canal immediately before the full delivery of a lamb stimulates a ewe to accept her lamb.

Sometimes with an easy birth or twins coming quickly together, an inexperienced ewe will become confused. Often she will accept one lamb at the expense of the other. But sometimes both lambs are poorly mothered.

There are a few different tricks that I use to convince a ewe to accept her lamb(s). Each situation is different and requires an careful evaluation of the circumstances. But easiest trick I know of is called:

Often the presence of a dog will encourage a strong protective instinct in a newly delivered ewe. The size of the dog usually doesn’t matter. Typically the ewe will stomp the ground or sometimes attempt to butt at the dog. Frequently she will direct her lambs behind her to protect them.

Fat Dog In The Barn

Any Dog Can Help A Ewe Accept Her Lamb

With a ewe that won’t allow her lamb to nurse, a dog into the barn, takes her mind off the lamb and puts it directly on the dog. This distraction buys time and allows her lamb to nurse. Once the lamb has nursed and ingested some of her milk, the ewe will recognize the lamb from the odor of its rear end. The lamb is now officially hers. If she doesn’t accept her lamb after 3 hours or so I will repeat the procedure.

With a truly stubborn or recalcitrant ewe I don’t hesitate to halter and tie her stoutly to a post; or stanchion her in a dairy goat head gate or hobble her back legs. I then tie a dog securely to another post or object to within 8 feet of her. I never leave the ewe and the dog alone. But instead find work in the barn while the dog and the ewe sort things out. Even the most wayward ewes will usually settle down and accept her lambs within 8 to 12 hours.

Poor Mothering

Accepting Her Lamb Because A Dog Is Present

First time mothers tend to give more trouble than older experienced ewes. I do make exceptions for them and will give them another chance. But for ewes that cannot or will not be convinced to get on with motherhood, the best course of action is to promptly cull them from the flock. Good mothering in sheep is hereditary. No sense in breeding bad mothers.