Tuesday, 28 December 2010


Eudora the ewe is sick. Really sick. She tried to tell me that she wasn't well yesterday. She didn't come running for her dinner like the others, and she was a bit...cuddly. Eudora is one of my orphans so she has her cuddly moments, but not usually during feeding time, unless she thinks she can ingratiate herself and get an extra handful of barley.

I thought she was just being sheepy - sort of unwell with something that would clear up as quickly as it had come on. Indigestion from too much grass maybe. I should have trusted my gut.

This evening I found her stood on her own (not a good sign), all four feet planted, her head held low and her neck stiffened. She didn't want to move. In fact, she acted as if she was blind. And she was grinding her teeth, which can be a sign of pain in animals.

I don't have a good working knowledge of sheep diseases yet, though my small flock has been putting me through my paces. I had to extrapolate from what I knew and trust my gut this time. My gut said it's a neurological something. Mike went to find the local shepherd for advice while I waited with Eudora. She ground her teeth and made pathetic bleating noises while I felt helpless, and guilty for not spotting it sooner.

Listeriosis - possibly. The shepherd sent Mike back with a megadose of antibiotic, which is meant to penetrate into the brain. We called Terry our vet for his opinion before I jabbed Eudora. He gave us the same diagnosis. It's definitely something meningio-encephalitic and that puts poor Eudora in the really sick category. I crossed my fingers and emptied half the syringe into each of her thigh muscles. She found some strength to fight me over that.

Mike and I used my jacket as a sling to carry her to the truck and lift her into the flatbed. I've put her in one of the horse stables and made her as comfortable as possible. We'll check on her every few hours to see if there's any improvement, and to make sure she doesn't cast herself or end up on her back. If she makes it through the night, she'll still need another week's worth of antibiotics.

The vet manual gives me a 30% chance of her recovery. I'll take what I can get. I don't want to lose a potential breeding ewe or a friend.


  1. Oh, Jen. I'm very sorry. It's stories like this that make me think I don't have the stomach for livestock. To see an animal suffering, and be unsure about what to do, how to alleviate the pain -- terrible.

    Here's to a full and speedy recovery for Eudora, and peace of mind for you, knowing you're doing everything you can.

  2. Sorry to hear about Eudora. It sucks when animals get sick. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and thinking good thoughts for her.

  3. Tamar - It's always your favorites isn't it? It's the Blondie Scenario all over again...

    It's hard to accept when you think you're following all the guidelines for good husbandry and nature still bites you in the arse.

    Kate - thanks for the kind words and thoughts. I know you've all been there with your own livestock.

  4. Bugger Jen. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you too. Livestock in Poppy Cottage is getting a bit thin on the ground. Lily is wondering if she could be next!!!!

  5. Fingers crossed. You're doing all you can reasonably do, all that can be done. It's terrible to feel helpless when your animals are sick. Hope the morning shows improvement.

  6. Colette & Sara - Eudora has made it through the night and she wagged her tail when she heard my voice at last check, but she's by no means out of the woods. Hopefully the vet will out this morning to see what he can do.

  7. Lesley Prior - http:devonfinefibres.wordpress.com - has dealt with either this or something very like this with her goats. i know that she gives them one hell of a lot of antibiotic to pull them through.

    I've just done a search on her site for listeriosis and it's very helpful. I know that goats and sheep have different med needs in this case, so amounts etc are likely to differ.

    HTH and good luck!