So, this one gave us a bit of a panic attack yesterday evening!
When I came out for the evening feeding, she was lying down and getting up, and lying down and getting up, sitting down like a dog, kicking at her stomach with a back hoof, stretching a lot, etc., and she wouldn’t eat. I caught her and checked for bloat, but she seemed normal. I rubbed and massaged her left side (where the rumen is located) pretty hard. She ran away from me just fine. She wasn’t lame. She wasn’t grinding her teeth. However, it was clear she was in distress and quite uncomfortable.
In an abundance of caution, I prepared to treat her as if she did have bloat, even though there had been no change in feed in days, no added stress, and basically no reason why she would have bloated. I caught her and dosed her with about 1.5 tablespoons of baking soda in about 60 mLs of water by drenching her with a big syringe. She fought me on the first syringe, but she gulped down the second syringe. I waited to see what would happen.
She walked around and stood more than she laid down, so I felt like that was some progress. There was a lot of swallowing. She sat like a dog once more and brought a hoof up to kick her side. (Reminded me of what horses do when they colic.) I kept going back into the pen to make her move around.
Then I saw her quietly “burp” up some pieces of what looked like sodden, matted, dark brown hay. It was dark by then, so I couldn’t find what she burped up. She steadily got better after that. I was going to dose her with some oil, but decided against it. She eventually had a drink of water on her own, so I felt like I could leave her and come back to check on her later. She had missed dinner as she wouldn’t eat, but about 4 hours later I caught her on security camera with her front hooves and head down in the hay trough.
Today she ate at both the morning and evening feeding. Crisis averted! You definitely have to pay close attention to sheep. I always try to stop and spend time in observation every time I’m with them.
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