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Farmer’s Diary: I am not ready to write this lamb off just yet

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, discusses orf and an injured ram lamb. 

Where do I start this week, folks? Between shuffling sheep around to get the best out of my grass at the minute, getting some much-needed fencing done and treating a large number of lambs for an outbreak of Orf (dirty mouth), I have recently discovered a lovely ram lamb that appears to have a badly damaged upper hind leg joint, what we would call our hip joint.

I noticed him lame a few days ago, and when I realised that he was not improving, it was time to intervene.

I was able to catch him in the field far too easily, which is an indication that there is something amiss straightaway.

You would rarely be able to catch a healthy lamb out in the field unless you could sneak up on them at the feeder or drinker, or you have two amazingly trained sheepdogs to help! Unfortunately, it transpired that he was worse than I originally thought.

Although I am no veterinary expert, when you work with animals a lot and observe them daily, you start to pick up on the fundamentals of livestock farming.

Not ready to write this lamb off just yet

Also, I have quite an extensive knowledge (unfortunately) of dealing with joint fractures as I’ve suffered a few myself.

The physiology is very comparable between humans and animals, and by this, I mean the injuries can be quite similar as too can the treatments.

Although we might spend a little more time and effort on a human, if we like them…we also spend a great deal of time and energy on our animals.

Perhaps, too much in some instances, but I absolutely love trying to fix things. Yes, I know not everything can be fixed, but I will give it a damn good try.

I have also learned that it is equally important to know when to call in the professionals or when to call it a day when all eventualities have been explored.

In saying this, I am not ready to write this lamb off just yet, so I will attempt to apply some bandaging knowledge I learned while I was doing my veterinary nursing studies.

The bandage technique is called the Ehmer sling, and if nothing else, it will stabilise the injured joint and alleviate some of the pain. I will get veterinary advice also.

Orf

As for the Orf outbreak, I am so annoyed with myself for not being on top of things and having my flock vaccinated in time; I will be ready next season.

It is an absolute pain to treat, extremely infectious, and we can catch it too. I experienced it on a smaller scale last year.

Having fewer sheep, I was able to keep it under control. However, this year, it is proving much more difficult to treat and very labour intensive.

I am primarily using a product called Bactokill Orf Paste by Novavet.ie. Eamonn Mc Grath from Agristore.ie gave me a free sample last year, and I swear by it. That is actually my first job today. Catch up again soon.

Further reading

Find more of Clodagh’s diary entries.

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