5 Reasons to Consider Sheep for Your Homestead
How to Care for a Sheep With Pneumonia
Sheep can commonly catch pneumonia from parasites, bacteria, or viruses. While pneumonia can cause problems for a herd, treating the illness immediately and taking precautions to prevent it can help keep your sheep healthy.
Treating a Sheep with Pneumonia
Call a vet to determine if it's viral or bacterial.The vet can test for pneumonia using a simple blood test that can identify the presence of certain pathogens in the blood or use a chest x-ray. If it's viral, there are no medications to specifically help the pneumonia. However, they can provide an anti-biotic that will help with the complications of the viral infection. A bacterial infection can be treated using anti-biotic.
Give the sheep medications to help with symptoms.This is particularly critical in lambs.The most common types of medication given to sheep with pneumonia include: Naxcel and Nuflor. These are both given as injections for two to three days consecutively or as directed. If you are injecting your sheep, choose a muscular area, such as the back of the neck, to give the injection. Make sure to sanitize the injection site prior and have help to hold the sheep in case they become frightened.
- If your animal has a fever, give them an acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. The dosing should be 3 mg/kg of body weight. You can give these orally in your sheep's food. If they are not eating, your vet may give you a liquid or injectable form that can be forcibly administered.
Feed your sheep proper nutrition to help with recovery.There are special vitamin mixtures given in addition to their normal diet that can give your sick sheep a boost such as SheepDrench. These vitamin mixtures can be purchased at any feed store. You will also want to give them a probiotic paste to help promote good digestion while using anti-biotics. Add soybean meal or beet pulp to give the food a high burst of nutrition.
- In extreme cases, the sheep may stop eating altogether despite medications and need a feeding tube to be inserted in its stomach. Your vet will make this assessment. If your sheep is not drinking, make sure to give them electrolytes. If they have no interest in water, you can give an electrolyte mixture, purchasable at any feed store, through their mouth forcibly. It can be mixed into a syringe that can be squirted into the sheep's mouth, or put in a bottle for lambs.
Test for and remove any parasites.Parasites can be a common cause of pneumonia. Sometimes bacteria from the parasite can spread into tissues further weakening the animal and an anti-biotic treatment can help alleviate these ancillary problems. They are found using tests but can also be narrowed down using symptoms such as listlessness or diarrhea.
- These parasites are overwhelmingly internal and require an injectable anthelmintic medication such as Moxidectin or Ivermectin. The dosing is based on the weight of the animal and can range from 1 oz per 100 pounds or 1ml/10 pounds.
Recognizing Symptoms of Pneumonia
Look for changes in behavior.One of the earliest signs of pneumonia is a general listlessness, disinterest, and an overall dullness. This can particularly be seen in eating and drinking habits. If your sheep shows a general disinterest in eating, you'll want to keep an eye on them.
- Watch how your sheep interacts with the flock. If they are having trouble keeping up with and interacting with the rest of the flock, they may be coming down with an illness.
Take your sheep's temperature.Using a rectal thermometer, insert it into the sheep's rectum in the early morning before it has had time to engage in activity or be in the heat. Any temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) signals that your animal is likely ill.
- If you have never used a rectal thermometer, consult your vet or a friend so that you do not cause any damage to the animal.
Listen for coughing and labored breathing.If your sheep is acting different, and has a high temperature, you'll want to look for other common signs of pneumonia like coughing. Sheep dealing with respiratory issues may cough and sound wheezy with labored breathing.
- It's normal for an animal to have quickened, labored breathing in hot weather so make sure to take into account the setting and circumstances.
Look for eye or nose problems.Sheep with pneumonia may have a whitish discharge coming from their nose and water-filled eyes that appear weeping. Their eyes may also appear dry and sunken in some cases.
- In its more developed stages, the sheep may have a frothy discharge coming from their mouth caused by difficulties breathing.
Talk to your vet about a vaccine.This is particularly the case if your herd has been dealing with ongoing issues with pneumonia. These usually are given four to six weeks apart and then another one annually. However, these can have limited effectiveness and other means can also help prevent the disease from taking root in your flock.
Keep the sheep's environment sanitary.Urine and feces can release gases that harm the respiratory track making pneumonia more likely. Also, a wet bedding can cause the animal to become chilled and more susceptible to pneumonia.
Keep barn temperature and humidity controlled.Sheep are fairly resilient and can tolerate some heat or cold but avoid anything too extreme. If it is a chilly winter night, make sure that your sheep are in a barn that can provide some heat and shelter for them. Also, make sure that their barn is not too humid as this can exasperate and cause respiratory issues.
- Make sure to keep it properly ventilated. Stagnant air can cause breathing problems.
Try to keep stress to a minimum.Animals that are constantly stressed because of transportation, birthing or heavy milking are more prone to disease. If you know that an animal is going to be susceptible to these sort of circumstances, make sure you monitor your animal carefully.
Prevent overcrowding in your herd.Sheep that are kept in cramp conditions and overcrowded are much more likely to develop and spread diseases like pneumonia. Make sure that they have adequate room to move around, eat and access to plenty of fresh air.
QuestionWhich is the best antibiotic to treat sheep with if signs of pneumonia are evident?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are a number of anti-biotics to give your sheep. The most common are: Chlortetracycline, Neomycin sulfate, Tilmicosin Phosphate, Ceftiofur sodium, and Penicillin G Procaine.Thanks!
QuestionWhat time of the year is pneumonia most common?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere is no real most common season that pneumonia occurs. It can occur during especially bad weather, be it very hot or very cold, as these situations can weaken the sheep's immune system. Make sure to have shelter for your sheep to avoid overly humid, cold, or hot conditions.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best way to treat pneumonia?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou will want to remove the sheep from the flock, administer anti-biotics and make sure that your sheep is given proper nutrition to help them fight the sickness. You will also want to look for other health complications such as a lack of appetite or ancillary infections to make sure your sheep gets better.Thanks!
QuestionMy orphaned lamb has pneumonia. What can I do in addition to anti-biotics?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAnti-biotics are the most common treatment. Since a lamb is more susceptible to sickness you'll want to monitor their eating and drinking carefully. Introduce vitamin powders into their food and administer electrolytes to avoid dehydration. Also, make sure they are in a clean, dry, and warm shelter. Finally, if your lamb has a fever you can give them NSAIDs like Tylenol to bring the fever down.Thanks!
QuestionCan I leave a sheep (with pneumonia) to sleep on its side?Top AnswererIf you do, make sure the feet are pointed downhill so that gravity pushes the rumen away from her lungs and so that she can get up more easily when she wants to. Check regularly to see if she's still breathing, and try to get her up every so often so she has a chance to move around and breathe freely, plus eat and drink.Thanks!
Can pneumonia affect a pregnant sheep's lambs?
What should I do if I have a pregnant sheep that is having problems breathing?
What is the best medicine to prevent calving in sheep?
- Pneumonia in sheep is also known as respiratory disease complex, pasteurellosis, or shipping fever.
- The most common bacteria found in sheep pneumonia arePasteurella haemolyticaorPasteurella multocida, or even both may be present.
- A sheep that has recovered from pneumonia is more prone to develop it again or to have other different health problems later.
Video: Caring for Sheep (Worming, Hoof Trimming and More)
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