The vet's been. After examining Eudora, he thinks it might be CCN - cerebrocortical necrosis. Also known as Thiamine deficiency. The rumen has been compromised by too much ingestion of B vitamins, creating a slightly too acidic rumen liquor which destroys the thiamine and in fact depletes stores of thiamine in the body's blood and tissue. Harmful bacteria can also proliferate under these conditions, futher weakening the animal.
In this case it was caused by overfeeding of concentrates. By me.
Has anyone stopped reading this, and dialled the RSPCA?
I feel awful.
I know it takes time and experience to develop enough knowledge to best care for your livestock. The incongruous part is that you need to learn on your animals.
I have a backround in keeping animals, and some diseases or zoonoses are commonplace to us and to them. Worms for example. I can identify an unthrify horse, or a dog losing condition, or a chicken gaping and recognise the signs. Anyone who's been responsible for animals knows what a sick animal looks like: a runny nose or eyes, drooping head, listless - or maybe restless. You may even just know that your animal isn't quite himself. Or herself.
It's the actual diagnoses that take time to learn. Worms are easy, and anthelmitic programs are available. But metabolic disorders? Or how about degenerative diseases that are congenital? If your chicken has a weak heart, you won't know until the necropsy. Lameness in a horse? Forget it. There are so many muscles and suspensory ligaments and tendons that can bow or pull - and that's just in the lower half.
None of this exonerates me for the stupidity of overfeeding my sheep.
I can only hope that the B vitamin injections, and antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories have come soon enough to save Eudora from my mistake. I'll be spending the afternoon drenching her with water and electrolytes, and checking on her through the night. If she survives, she won't hold it against me. Animals are pretty great that way.