Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dairy Sheep - Boils or Abscess

A boil or abscess is a localized accumulation of infectious tissue and fluid in response to a bacterial infection. The most common infection in sheep is caseous lymphadenitis (CL), which localizes in the lymph nodes.

A variety of bacteria may cause an abscess, but the cause (CL) is corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. It often causes multiple abscesses in the lymph nodes around the head, neck and shoulders. It may also affect internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys and lungs. It may result in chronic weight loss or death in extreme cases. Caseous lymphadenitis can spread between animals. When an external boil ruptures, the bacteria are dispersed. This can be a particular concern at shearing time.  It may take several months for lesions to develop in newly infected animals.  Individual abscesses can be lanced and drained or surgically removed. When Lancing or removing a lesion, you must exercise great caution to not further spread organisms to other sheep.  There may still be internal abscesses that cannot be seen or removed. Antibiotics are generally of little benefit as they struggle to penetrate the thick capsule of tissue that forms around the infected area.
Maintain fences, feeders and corrals to minimize injuries. Shear the youngest sheep first and take great care to not rupture any abscesses. A vaccine is available but it must be administered when lambs are very young to promote immunity prior to exposure.

The Karras Family
Karras Farm

Dairy Sheep - Cute lambs

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sheep Feed and Digestion

To understand how to properly feed your flock, you need to know a bit about ruminant digestion. Ruminants have a four chambered stomach as opposed to a single stomach like humans, dogs, horses, pigs and many other animals. When sheep eat grass or hay, the food slips down the esophagus into the largest chamber , a fermentation and storage organ called the Rumen. Sheep don't do much chewing as they forage, that activity comes later. When the sheep finds a quiet spot to rest and regurgitate the under-masticated vegetable matter, it will then do some real chewing or ruminating, before again swallowing its "cud" for final digestion. Even with all this rumination, the cellulose in fibrous plant feed is difficult to digest. Fortunately, ruminants have billions of helpful protozoa and bacteria residing in their Rumen that flourish on high fiber diets. These microbes produce protein as a by-product of the fermentation process, another perk for the sheep. Further digestions occurs in the Abomasun or true stomach, which secrets acids and enzymes similar to the human stomach. The basic components of a healthy sheep diet include water, forage, grain, vitamins and minerals.

Have a blessed Holiday ~ Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

The Karras Family
Karras Farm