KL2I had another puffy head sheep crop up. How weird! This is certainly an intriguing disease. Monday night I spotted it, now the subtle but odd appearance of the facial puffiness and fur scruffiness is distinctive to me. Fortunately it was much less progressed than the one I had earlier this year. This time, it’s Kitchen Lamb.

His questionable access to colostrum as a bottle lamb makes it no surprise that his immune system would succumb to something that, so far, isn’t showing up in the 31 other sheep.

To recap the first one, it happened last June, to a three-year-old healthy ewe. I went through all sorts of ponderings of what could cause it: bee sting, bluetongue, ovine facial eczema. I settled on the last guess as the closest to her bizarre symptoms. By August 16, I had reported her full recovery, and then her sudden death on August 30th. Necropsy revealed trashed, blackened lungs surrounded by fluid bags. Below, on the left, was her lung (if you didn’t know better, you might think I was holding her liver!), and on the right, a healthy pink lamb’s lung.


I had treated her with zinc, goldenseal, vitamin B injections, and homeopathic silicea. At the time, I chose not to use antibiotics, because she only had a slight fever, not enough to make me think she was fighting infection. But look at those lungs!

What Is This?

KL3This time, I’m even more puzzled about the cause. The vet didn’t have a guess. She told me bluetongue isn’t present in this area (though I’ve read otherwise). Either way, it’s spread by biting insect, so.. in December? Bee sting is definitely ruled out- not because it’s December (Kirk just had a six-sting encounter a few weeks ago), but because both cases had more than just swelling- runny eyes and nose too. I caught this earlier with Kitchen Lamb, so was able to prevent the full football-head swelling. But he still has some deep skin fissures where his ears attach to the skull. So that is more like ovine facial eczema. We don’t have much sun to give him a full-blown UV-sensitive skin attack like the summer case showed; and he’s got more wool than a summer sheep too.

But facial eczema in December? On reed canary grass? I suppose we have had some unseasonably warm weather, and maybe the fungus grows on RCG as well as perennial rye? The sheep are certainly grazing down to the nibbins now that they are on winter feed. I can’t discount the lung failure in the last sheep, so maybe this is some very peculiar virus or bacteria. Or a consequence of lungworm? A strange manifestation of copper toxicity?

KL1Bring on Bartell’s

So this time, I’m assaulting the disease with a pharmaceutical bazooka! Adding to the zinc, and vitamin B injections I used last time, I de-wormed him with Ivermectin in case it’s lungworm, and added penicillin-G. He also shows only a tiny fever- 103.4, so it doesn’t seem like infection is raging by any means. But that’s what I said the last time!

The treatment blitz seems to be working. He had his worst day Tuesday, and didn’t show up for dinner time. Neither did Paramedic Llama, who loyally stood with him, and enabled me to locate where he was lying in the field in the dark. But when I brought them grain, he ate vigorously, and then felt good enough to hoof it to one of the dog houses, where he took shelter for the night. Today he is bright and perky, and the swelling is almost gone, just pooled around his jowls. His eyes are still puffy and irritated though, and his face and ears tender. I didn’t get a picture of the worst of it since I only saw him in the dark Monday and Tuesday. The most distinctive thing about the swelling is that it pushes the ears downward in an unnatural position. You can see how his ears look funny, compared to the other sheep. He is on the left. SheepGroup

Kitchen Lamb, by the way, is still here because he needs to gain another ten or twenty pounds to be ready to butcher. He is earmarked for our freezer. It’s an odd twist of fate that this should happen to him. The nice thing about him being a bottle lamb is that he is easy to treat; easy to catch and tolerant of being handled and fed medicine. Here is a picture of what his face normally looks like. This was when he was younger, but he’s still young enough to not have any hint of a ram’s roman nose. The above pictures are all from facial edema.