sheep with congested udder or mastitis?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
My ewe lambed on Saturday afternoon and mother and twins seemed fine. Then yesterday I noticed that the lambs seem to be nursing more out of one half than the other. The half that is not being nursed as much is hard at the top, but is not hard all over. I have seen the lambs nurse off both of the teats. I'm not sure if the lambs are preferring one teat or if the ewe is favoring one teat. The half of the udder that is being favored is completely soft, so they are definately nursing well off that side. The ewe and the lambs are both acting perfectly healthy. I stripped a little milk out of the affected half and she gives fine and the milk appears normal.
To err on the side of caution, I thought I'd dose her with penicillin for the next few days and milk her out on that side (which is going to be some aerobic exercise since she is not the least bit willing to have me milk her at all). I don't usually do preventative antibiotics, but in reading the archives I noted that people have had experiences with ewes not appearing ill but still being positive for mastitis when the only sign was a congested udder. Does anyone have any other advise to offer up? All I have is procaine penicillin so that's what I'll use. If nothing gives by Saturday I'll call the vet, I just don't want to call him if all I'm dealing with is teat favoritism by the lambs. Help!
-- Sheryl in ME (email@example.com), May 02, 2002
Tempting to milk out the good side and try to convince the lambs to nurse from the other side. You can always tube feed the milked out milk if they get hungry. There's nothing wierd about the teat? One side is probably easier than the other, although as the lambs grow they'll need both sides. Guess you could try some oxytocin.... kind of a shot in the dark. Nah the lambs still would have to suckle the unused side, oxytocin won't change that. Can you pen them so you can watch more closely?
-- Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 02, 2002.
I have never had them nurse on one side unless there was a problem. If your not involving a vet your going about it right. I would continue to milk, check the milk, does it have any blood to suspect mastitis. Is the udder enlarged to the ground? Sometimes a udder is so enlarged the babies can't get their mouths on it. Check often and I mean often the babies to make sure their getting enough to eat. First walk up quietly and shake a sleeping baby, it should strength, run to mommy and start the nursing process. Feel its belly, a baby should have a full belly all the time. Is it crying, that could be a sigh of not enough milk. On the other hand I have had 4 babies on one ewe which I imagine is twins on one udder and all worked out well without supplements but I watch carefully and weaned earlier than normal. I usually allow the mothers to wean at their time but if the babies are not getting enough I would start creep feed earlier. If you start creep too earlier you must get the cd/t shots and it appears your not wanting medications in your babies, although I am not sure if vaccinations vs. penn G is the same. Good Luck - Sheep seem to be a lot of work. In fact I have heard from people that raise both sheep and goat and prefer the goat. I only raise sheep and with the market it definately is not good but I love all those babies and my ewes are so nice I will probably stay in the business a little longer.
-- debbie (email@example.com), May 03, 2002.
Sheryl, I already replied to you e-mail, but for the benefit of others will post it here.Its possible she had a past infection with mastitis in that side which might account for the hardness at the top.Has she ever had lambs before? A single? Sometimes a single will just nurse on one side and you end up the next time around with a lumpy udder. But I somehow think that it is just caking from a very full side. You said the lambs seem to favor the right side. I would milk out the left side as much as I could, at least to equalize it to the other.And keep putting the lambs on that side. Eventually they should nurse out both sides. Don't give penicillin without really knowing why. Take her temperature. Normal for sheep is 101 to 103. If she truly has an active case of mastitis, it will be elevated. Now when my vet looks for mastitis, she milks a bit on a piece of black paper. The stringy texture of mastitis milk shows right up.Sometimes in more advanced cases the milk will be blood tinged as well. Also until the lambs are nursing really well, for the first few days I do not give the ewe any grain, just good hay and water, so as to prevent a surge of milk and engorgement. They are in lambing jugs or pens anyway for 3 to 5 days just to monitor any problems such as this. I have also in some cases massaged the udder and used a warm pack on the udder for 5-10 minutes. Have you ever heard of corn bags? You can make them with plain cloth sewn in a pillowcase shape and filled with whole field or cow corn.(Not popcorn) Heat in Microwave for 2-3 minutes and they hold the heat a good half hour. Long enough to walk to barn and catch the ewe. Make sure its not too hot, don't need to burn her! Hope this helps. Kate
-- Kate Henderson (Kate@sheepyvalley.com), May 03, 2002.
I received a very disappointing e-mail this evening from a girl who works at the farm where I purchased the ewe. Apparently this ewe had a problem with mastitis last spring with her first lambs. This tidbit of information was withheld from me at the time of purchase. I should have pushed harder for a health and history chart. I used to work at this farm and I bottle raised this ewe there (she was a triplet). I would not have bought this ewe if I'd known that she had mastitis problems in the past...mastitis always seems to come back to haunt you. I thought I could trust my former employer to be honest, but I guess I was mistaken.
So, now I'm thinking that I have some scar tissue and some congestion and possibly some mastitis. I tried to milk her out this morning and this evening, but the lambs have better luck at that than I do. Despite being bottle raised, this ewe is a bit of a live wire. She has been known to struggle to the point of doing herself bodily harm if she doesn't like what is being done to her. I am a bit reticent to restrain her any longer than needs be. The lambs both have had full bellies every time I've checked. The ewe had a normal temperature when I checked this morning. If there's no improvement by Monday I'll call the vet. I will have to try the black paper trick. I usually use a glass jar, since you can see the milk well through the glass and can spot flakes, chunks or strings fairly easily.
-- Sheryl in ME (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 03, 2002.
I have spent a couple of years milking cows, so mastitus is something that I deal with every now and then... one of the simplest way to check for mastitus is to get some watered down dish wash detergent (around 1:4) and mix it with an equal amount of the milk (you only need a teaspoon of each). If the mixture stays runny, then it isnt mastitus, but if is goes a bit like runny snot (I couldn't think of a better description) then it is... this method will pick up even sub- clinical mastitus (before clotting). We use this method over calving for 800 cows... its simple, cheap and accurate. Also, mastitus can be prevented by massaging the teat with tee-tree oil, or peppermint oil, and we have successfully treated it by injecting the teat (taking care not to damage the teat canal) with a half and half mixture of boiled water and manuka honey, which has a strong anti-biotic effect
-- Catherine Gray (email@example.com), May 03, 2002.
My two cents worth: The dish soap/water method works well. I have also found the Dr. Naylor mastitis test cards to be very useful. I buy them from Jeffers.
-- Dianne Wood (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 04, 2002.