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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help! Sheep Skin Problem

I never do blog posts from work, but I'm making an exception, so this is short and to-the-point. We are adopting 2 sheep from the shelter who just came in. They have so many burrs that you can barely separate their fleece. They look like Dorsets to me. They have not been sheared in quite some time. We will need to "start over" with them in the spring after a good shearing.

I was inspecting them at the shelter and finally managed to get through to look at the skin in some places. Their skin has a problem. I can only look at their skin on their backs and flanks, but I can see that their pinkish-white skin is covered in these rust-brown colored patches, everywhere. The patches are not raised. They do not appear to be itchy but I can't really tell for sure. You can see some areas where wool has fallen out, but that might just be because they haven't been shorn. It just makes their skin look all mottled.

I have been Googling sheep skin diseases with no real "aha" moments. Can anybody who is a sheep expert give me any advice? The shelter vet will be looking at them but his specialty is really companion animals, not barnyard buddies.

Any advice and suggestions appreciated! Very much!

11 comments:

Joanna said...

I don't know, but I bet the regular Vet will have some knowledge about the skin rash. Gosh, I feel so sorry for the sheep, how did their feet look?

Tammy said...

If the spots are a yellowish-rusty color they are most likely harmless. This is called 'yolk' and is caused from an excess of perspiration/lanolin/suint in that area. Even healthy sheep can have it, and while it usually can reduce the value of the wool, it won't hurt the sheep any. I have Dorsets and dorset/merino mixes and from year to year some individuals will have 'yolk' spots, most often along the back area. Hope this helps and bless you for taking in two needy sheep--good luck with them.
Tammy

Kara said...

Make sure you keep them away from your other animals when you bring them home until you figure this out. I'd have the vet check them for lice, mites, or keds.

Annie said...

I don't know anything about sheep, so can't help you there. I just wanted to say that I love your "Eggs I have known" photos.

Claire said...

Joanna - they are a bit skittish so I will need Kelly's help to look at their feet. I managed to get close enough to do the skin inspection on the back, but if I started trying to touch their legs or faces, they scattered, and they are too large for me to "wrangle" by myself.

Tammy - thank you so much! I sure appreciate that input. I hope that's all it is. I can't wait to see how much better they look with the outer layer of burrs shaved off. I think we'll do an initial clip to get rid of that layer, probably the top inch of fleece (which is not really fleece, just burrs!) and then shear the rest come spring.

Claire said...

Thanks Kara! I couldn't see any creepy crawlies in their fleece, but I am sure they will check for that. The angora goats we rescued had lice and mites but we were able to give them baths with special shampoo. These girls will be too big for that!

Annie - thanks! As soon as the girls start laying more eggs, I'll get some more pics up there!

JEN_2 said...

Hey Clair just randomly checkin out different blogs and happend to see this one. Really love it. Check out mine sometime.
Thx
Jen - allaboutpygmys.blogspot.com

Don said...

I applaud you for your kindness! I have thought about doing something like that one of these days.
I'll bet your univ of Iowa would have a dept that could help.

Claire said...

Thanks Don! We are lucky to have a shelter in town that takes in farm animals. We like to take in what we can - no horses, but the smaller livestock work out well. The only caveat - no breeding allowed, which is a shame with some of the fleece breeds, but we love 'em anyway!

Mare said...

Oh those poor sheep...You are such an angel for taking them in...Please keep us updated!

girlwithasword said...

how wonderful you adopt all these farm critters! Good luck with the new "gang" :)