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Farmer’s Diary: Always listen to your vet

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes tells us about a ewe with a vaginal prolapse. 

Well, folks, after a couple of relatively quiet weeks, the past seven days or so have more than made up for it!

Every day, I have gone to check on my sheep, there have been some kinds of issues.

From; lameness and two prolapses with my heavily in lamb ewes to; more lameness and a couple of my replacement ewes continuing to find holes in the hedges to escape.

And this is before I go into other jobs such as; bringing barrels of water around, feeding hay and meal…getting my shed ready for the ewes, a bit of dosing and general maintenance.

Vaginal prolapse

My biggest saga from last week, and it is not an easy read, folks, was losing a young, in-lamb ewe to an acute vaginal prolapse. This is a common enough disorder found in all animals, including humans.

And, unless you are of quite a strong disposition, do not look this up.

Unfortunately, or fortunately for experience purposes, I have had a couple of cases here.

After veterinary consultation and my own research, I have managed a few.

I will say one thing: if caught in the early stages and dealt with appropriately; a ewe can carry on comfortably through her pregnancy and even lamb naturally, under close observation, of course.

I had kept this ewe against my vet’s advice, as she had experienced a very difficult first lambing last year.

One afternoon last week, I noticed her with a small prolapse.

As it was only in the early stage, I carried on with a few chores, gathered up what I needed back at the yard and headed back to the field intending to catch and replace the prolapse as I had done a few times previously with other ewes.

Unfortunately, by the time I returned to the field, her condition had worsened dramatically. As soon as I saw her, I realised; this was not good.

Usually, I will restrain, wash, sterilise and using lubricant, gently and firmly push the prolapse back into place and insert a specially designed prolapse retainer.

However, I knew I was in trouble with this ewe. I rang my vet.

For what seemed like forever for him to arrive, which is always the case in these situations, I had to lay my weight on the poor animal to prevent her from thrashing about as she was in so much distress still trying to push her insides out.

I found this more traumatic than when the vet put her to sleep. This is because deep down, you know the poor beast is out of its misery.

Lesson

I think the most important thing I have realised in the last year is that to be a responsible sheep farmer, I need to heed the advice I am given.

I should hold onto animals that will only cause problems. This is fundamentally a welfare issue, as I learnt the hard way last week.

But to end on a positive note, I am starting to look forward to lambing.

See more of Clodagh’s diary entries.

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