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Home Farming News Farmer’s Diary: A week is a long time in farming
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Farmer’s Diary: A week is a long time in farming

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Clodagh Hughes runs a sheep enterprise on the Monaghan/Louth border near Inniskeen- here is this week’s update:

Following on from last week’s relative productiveness, this week has well and truly taken the wind out of my sails.

My latest report from the hospital ward is good and bad. My lamb with the fractured leg is flying despite her disability, while the other ewe lamb, who was lame on a hind foot, has improved greatly after a course of antibiotics but, if you recall my wee lamb who was treated for shock a couple of weeks back, she developed meningitis on Tuesday last. 

Now, I can only guess that she may have picked up the bacteria from the ground, she was grazing and perhaps, her immune system was compromised due to her shock episode and the bacteria caught hold.

Disappointment and relief

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After almost a week of intensive nursing, including hand feeding, physio exercises, alongside veterinary advice and drug treatment, she died on me last night (Sunday, September 20th).                                                           

I feel a mixture of disappointment and relief, a combination of emotions a lot of farmers will recognise, and indeed, anyone who has owned animals and seen them through an illness will be familiar with.

Because, although she had been improving day-on-day, I was afraid there was going to be a degree of lasting brain damage which would have prevented her from being able to fend for herself, she’d lost the sight in her left eye.

This was my first case of meningitis and to say I learned a lot this week is an understatement.  Although I moved on this case as soon as I saw the lamb off form, I would immediately recognise the signs of any potential future case should they arise and would be in a position to act even quicker and more effectively.

Bacterial meningitis can be contracted from sources such as spoiled foodstuffs and can even be picked up from the animal’s environment. 

There is a lot of information available about the disease and boy did I do some research this week.

Ultimately, for there to be any chance of recovery, the goal is to start treatment as soon as the illness is detected and to attempt to catch it before it travels to the brain because this is where the real damage occurs.

Breeding season

But farming life goes on folks; Mr. Woody (the ram) is readying himself for a flurry of passion when he will be introduced to my ladies next week. 

I was delighted when the farmer, off whom I bought my original breeding ewes in 2016, called up to buy 2 ram lambs off me for his breeding flock, this is the second time we have sealed a deal. 

I also need to get a wriggle on with my assignments – I don’t want to be the type of student I was in school…leaving it until the last minute!

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