View Full Version : Injured Sheep

17th March 2006, 07:20 PM
I am having a really bad sheep week! The day before yesterday I noticed a sheep with a bad hobble, they had been caught up a few days prior for me to check for fly strike and tails (they were tailed too late by the person I bought them off and havent healed well). Anyway this young ewe is not using her hind leg at all, she at first seemed to put a little weight on it so I waited so as not to traumatise her too much as she is v wild, but it hasnt improved. I think it must be broken or dislocated. She is eating and drinking and alert, but of course on three legs, leaving the fourth dangling. I cant see any obvious sign of injury and have shut her in a little paddock to restrict her movement, Do sheep often get leg injuries like this? I dont want her to suffer, but she doesnt seem too bothered except she doesnt put weight on it. I assume it is hopeless, but just wondered if this sort of thing might be treatable - could it be splinted or might it heal up with time? Does anyone have any advise please?

17th March 2006, 07:29 PM
If its a break that you can see then yes you can splint it, get a plastic milk container, and cut it by taking the top and bottom off it so you end up with a long piece that you can wrap around the leg, put some cottonwool on the leg, wrap the plastic around it, and then tape it up very well, making sure its not so tight that you cut the circulation to the foot, after about 6 weeks you can take it off and the sheep should be okay, you can take it off before to check and replace the cotton wool if you want to, but not too much or you will hinder the healing process. Works a treat, and we have even used it on run sheep from our farm where we had over 2000 of them, just need to keep the ewe close so that you can check her occasionally. If the leg is dislocated then you will have to get the vet to put it back in place, even I have not been brave enough to try that one. It may pay to put a mate with her so that she stays very settled as well, it could be a calf, or a goat if you dont have a quiet enough one to put with her.

17th March 2006, 08:35 PM
sheep can go 3-legged just from foot scald, so before you assume it's a broken or dislocated leg, make sure you have checked the feet for scald or footrot

18th March 2006, 06:48 AM
thnaks for the help, I dont think it is footrot as so far we dont have it and the whole leg dangles. If it is broken below the hock, would I splint it just below, or do I try and splint the whole leg. Also, have you found a tape which will stay on successfully? I am going to try and do it today, but am not looking forward to it. If it is a break would I feel the bone moving?
Eek, Clare

Toni - Northland
18th March 2006, 08:20 AM
You need to pull the toes apart and have a good look in between them. Our sheep hold one leg up when they have scald so have a good look first.

18th March 2006, 08:50 AM
I would count it as hopeless if it's broken this time of year. Far too high a risk of flystrike...not a pleasant thing having maggots eating away your flesh under bandages etc. Unless you're changing it every week at least chances are you wouldn't pick it up before it was too late.

If it was winter it'd be a different story of course.

18th March 2006, 09:15 AM
We have over the years had lambs that are around 4/5 months old develop arthritis in the back leg and they dangle like that .One this year was very bad and it took a while for us to figure out what it was but after a couple of pennicillin injections it has come right. Try that.

18th March 2006, 09:28 AM
Unless she is an old ewe, I would be very surprised if it was broken. I would think scald too. Trim the hoof as per the item in the Tips forum, and spray with iodine or Tetravet (from the vet). If it is broken, leave it severely alone - young sheeps bones heal really easily.

18th March 2006, 09:35 AM
thanks everyone, maybe it isnt hopeless after all, what does scald look like? I checked them for footrot and this was ok 2 weeks ago, but know nothing about scald. She was born in november, so is young, and this came on suddenly, as I go out and watch the flock twice a day (on the look out for flystrike). I think perhaps on one of the occasions I caught them all to spray their tails she must have been injured - they are really wild when cornered and throw themselves around horribly, even though Ive got yards and go real slow with them. I will have a really good look inbetween the toes and hope that's it!

18th March 2006, 09:49 AM
Go to Snitz Forums 2000 at the top left of this page.
Go to Tips.
Go to Trimming Goats Feet page 1.
Look at the first picture. If the outer hoof has started extending then she is not putting weight on this foot.
Go down to about the 4th picture to the scald. Your lamb won't be this bad yet - if she has scald it will show as a damp white area right at the top of the crack. With your hoof clippers take off the extra length she has grown, and also some of the sole at the side so that air can get in and muck can fall out.

18th March 2006, 11:26 AM
ok, now I have a grip on the scald, I will examine the lamb this afternoon. If there are no visible injuries should I try a splint, views seem divided and I dont want to make it worse. She is penned by the house so I can see her from the kitchen and keep a close eye on her.

18th March 2006, 12:17 PM
Hi there.. I hate to say it but if you're really not sure what's going on I think yo need to get a vet in. Sometimes they can wrench a leg (ie: a sprain) especially if they have been yarded recently but you would know pretty quickly as you would see daily improvement in the weight bearing capacity of her leg. I really woulnd't leave it more than a few days if you don't have a handle on it.

I'd say trim her hooves even if they don't look much too long.. and buy some type of hoof spray to use on it. Give her a day after that to see if she feels a bit better. Also feel the joints to see if they feel warmer or more swollen than joints on her other legs. If so this may mean an infection and would need antibiotics.

18th March 2006, 02:01 PM
Remember that most vets don't know much about sheep. Perhaps cowvet is close enough for you to be able to use her, or Yaldhurst try Dr (yes a real PhD doctor) Cliff McGrouther.

18th March 2006, 06:58 PM
quote:Originally posted by LongRidge

Remember that most vets don't know much about sheep. Perhaps cowvet is close enough for you to be able to use her, or Yaldhurst try Dr (yes a real PhD doctor) Cliff McGrouther.

1. Rural vets in NZ do know about sheep...they would be mad not to given our rural economy and what it is based on!!!!

2. Cliff McGrouther is no more a PhD doctor than I am!!! He is a BVSc 1962 from Queensland Uni according to the veterinary register. All veterinarians are entitled to use the title "Doctor", as are human doctors despite the fact that neither have a PhD.

Re this sheep:

If it is non weight bearing (walking on three legs) and you think it may be broken then it is breaking all animal welfare guidelines to do nothing. If it is broken then it needs casting (or appropriate splinting - but casting it is better at a correctly applied cast immobilises the fracture much more effectively) at the very least. If you do not know what you are doing then please do not go off some internet instuction re milk containers of pvc pipe. Putting a cast or splint on incorrectly can make things worse...much worse which is hardly fair on the animal!!!

It could be arthritis (not that uncommon in young sheep) but if you have had recent yarding and a bit of a tussle then a fracture or dislocation does have to be kept in mind

18th March 2006, 08:54 PM
Cowvet, what causes arthritis in young sheep?

Toni - Northland
18th March 2006, 09:30 PM
clare.m, please take cowvets advise. Also, do you have a 'real' sheep farmer near you to get an opinion also. You cannot self diagnose this.

19th March 2006, 10:18 AM
Inger , I think it is viral arthritis .As I said We have over the years had a few cases of it and it looks as though the leg is dislocated but feels normal and it just dangles and they don't put any weight on it.We had it diagnosed when We were down at Rolleston .This year We had one case of it ,but as the brain box gets a bit older things are harder to recall.In the end We gave it two shots of peniccillan two days apart and now it is just a normal 5 month old lamb.

19th March 2006, 10:41 AM
Arthritis is usually bacterial (not viral) hence the antibiotic treatment and success.

Treatment and diagnosis needs to be rapid as the infection will wreck the joint with time which is something antibiotics can't fix.

Invariably joint infections enter the joints as a result of a navel infection or a docking wound infection (tailing or castration). Where there is only one joint affected then treatment can be successful if started early - but in cases where there is a sickly lamb and multiple joints are involved then euthanasia is often the kindest route given that there are usually multiple abscesses elsewhere internally as well.

In a case such as this an accurate diagnosis is the MOST IMPORTANT first step. The treatment for a fracture versus arthritis (they look very similar) is very different.

19th March 2006, 02:01 PM
Thanks for that cow vet .

20th March 2006, 12:40 PM
...and the diagnosis was?....

21st March 2006, 04:12 PM
what happened to the lamb with the injured leg?

21st March 2006, 07:26 PM
Well she is beginning to weight bear a little and half way through a course of antibiotics, still eating and acting as if she isnt bothered - no one could find a break so we assume it was because of the ******* awful tailing they all got before I bought them - glad of the help from Longridge who sounds my kind of expert! I am keeping her in the barnyard with a couple of buddies and she will stay there another two weeks then hopefully go back.