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Diary: ‘Imagine the worst case of breathlessness you have ever had and multiply that by 10’

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes discusses an ongoing battle with maggots, a case of acute onset pneumonia and a trip to the mart. 

I missed a diary entry last week, but if you have got five minutes, I will fill you all in on what was another very busy and mixed bag of events on my wee farm was.

To start with, I am still finding the odd lamb with maggots. These attacks are much less serious and extensive than in weeks gone by but still a bloody nuisance.

There were a few mornings I would be gone out to do my checks, and there I was with a lamb turned over picking maggots off him before I had even had my breakfast!

Thankfully, these incidences are few and far between.  Yet another hard lesson learned this year and one I hope not to be repeated in the future, on such a scale at any rate.

Acute onset pneumonia

In the midst of this ‘attack of the maggots’, I caught one of my ewe lambs struck down with what I now know is acute onset pneumonia…folks; I was sure she was a goner!

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Imagine the worst case of breathlessness you have ever had and multiply that by 10. I rang my vets immediately and was told they would ring me back as soon as there was a vet back at the clinic.

When that call came, the usual routine ensued; old sheets on the jeep floor, bundle lamb into the footwell of the jeep and hit the road at a respectable and safe speed, of course, children!

So, long story short, the vet confirmed my fears. With a guarded prognosis, which seems to be a very common diagnosis with sheep, he sent me home with my lamb.

He had injected her with a strong antibiotic specific to respiratory ails and an injection of anti-inflammatory and anti-oedema drugs.

This would help reduce the inflammation of her lung tissues. Also, it would help remove the fluid that had built up in her lungs and was seriously inhibiting her breathing.

After four days of nursing and a twice-daily injection of the above anti-oedema medicine, the lamb was well on the road to recovery. She is now ready to be reunited with her sister flock.


Over the last five years, I have come to understand some of the wonderful and infuriating things about sheep.

There are times that you fully expect them to succumb to their illness or injury, and lo and behold! They bounce back in an almost ‘raising of the dead’ scenario.  Equally, there are other times when you do all you can, and it is simply not enough.


I finally got to the mart on Monday gone. Although prices were back a bit from recent weeks, I was happy with what I got for my first batch of lambs.

It has given me a wee boost to keep moving forward. It is also some very welcome revenue to put back into the farm.

I had planned to introduce the ram on Sat/Sun just past, but it did not work out to plan. I am aiming for this weekend instead.

That is all for now, folks.

Further reading: Farmer Diary

Read more entries from Clodagh in our Farmer Diary series.

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