KMC0010 (2)Last Tuesday evening I noticed one of my ram lambs looked like he had a puffy lower lip. It was subtle, and the tired part of me thought, I’ll look at that tomorrow. But then, no, I’d better look at it right now. I called down Maggie to help me gather the group and nabbed him. It’s a good thing I didn’t wait.

BrokenJawHis jaw had been rearranged, literally! One side of his mandible was broken, compound fractured, and the bone shard was jutting out into the middle of his mouth, pushing his tongue aside. The wound was pretty fresh, still bleeding, and with that soft puffiness of tissue that has ballooned up from trauma, but not yet hardened into knotty blood clots. (Curiosity picture taken post-slaughter, I didn’t hassle him more than necessary in his painful state.)

I considered the sources. The stock dogs? Caught in fencing? I don’t  think so. I’m pretty sure it was a blunt force trauma, like from a sledgehammer. Or from this wether lamb’s head:JacobLamb1

One of the Jacob crossbreds. Darn it if I didn’t miss a testicle on both of them when castrating them. They have the bad temperament of their mother, always aggressive and head-butting the other sheep. My Katahdins are so mild mannered by comparison. Even though I have a group of rams together and it’s breeding season, they only just nudge each other and grunt (and, ahem, they are seemingly more interested in possibly hooking up than battling ;-)). The Jacob crosses are the only ones trying to fight, and one of them has horns. And in fact, one of his horns has a messed-up end because he’s obviously injured the horn bud earlier, probably from head butting.

There was nothing to be done, a sheep with a bum mouth can’t eat and won’t last long. This was a nice ram that I had kept intact hoping to sell him as a breeder. He was shy of butcher weight, but not by much, so off he went the next morning.

The local butcher normally takes slaughters at the end of the day; I think for cleanup practicalities, they do it after the day’s meat cutting is finished. But they kindly took him first thing in the morning, out of concern for his discomfort. I don’t think giant slaughterhouses have time for this kind of consideration, so I’m grateful to have a custom meat house only minutes away from home. And I’m glad I caught this. Another day or so, and that lamb would have gone down and succumbed to dehydration. It goes to show, if you can spend five minutes every day looking closely at your animals, you can salvage a lot of things before it’s too late.

Those Jacob lambs need to put on another ten pounds or so, and then they are right behind him in getting delivered to the butcher! This is further solidifying my non-preference for Jacobs, and horns!