Going through photos from the crazy days of lambing, I found this thing I wanted to post about. This is sheep vomit. Which I have never seen before. Sheep rarely barf. Walking through the pasture where the sheep were grazing, it caught my eye instantly. The only time I see this material is when rumens are emptied on the grass at the end of the butchering process, by people who plan to take the rumen lining home for tripe recipes. It is unmistakable in contents, smell and texture. It was spread out in multiple piles. I instantly knew who it belonged to.

One of my mature breeding rams had turned up very, very sick the day before. When I move the sheep to a new graze section, they are always excited for the drill and are ready, ready, ready at the gate opening to rush through, calling loudly to me in anticipation. When this ram ignored the stampede and stayed recumbent in the grass, I knew something was wrong. I was able to nudge him to rise and move with pressure, but he was very reluctant, and just laid down again as soon as he was on the other side. I could walk up and touch him, which is not normal at all. I could tell he felt awful.

That day, not knowing what was wrong, I treated him with antibiotics, vitamin B, and Banamine and hoped for the best. But seeing this vomit, which was near to where he was resting with no cud-chewing, made me suspect poison. So, I dosed him with a huge volume of liquid charcoal and some other oral remedies I had on hand. It was very messy! Thankfully, he recovered in a day or two, so maybe the vomiting helped him purge whatever was poisoning him, and the charcoal likely helped the rest bind and pass unabsorbed. I don’t  know what did it to him, and none of the other 200 sheep were affected, so it’s very strange indeed. We do have a very wide diversity of plants, including several which threaten mild toxicity, like lambsquarter, buttercup and nightshade (ours is a less toxic variety than the “deadly” nightshade that some parts of the country have). But we have none, that I know of, which are severely poisonous, like Rhododendron or something. One of the many mysteries of farming.