Treating a Sheep Without Antibiotics

Summer 2014

By Patti Hamilton

This was an exciting case in which attentive nursing by the farmer, as well as herbal and nutritive supplements and homeopathic remedies, saved the life of a ewe. Pyrogen, a remedy made from putrescent meat, effectively did its job of reducing the fever. – Diane Schivera

On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, I put all my sheep in the barn for shearing. One – Ali – got three cuts, which were treated with iodine salve. She spent the afternoon lying down and seemed a bit “quiet.” I kept the adult ewes inside for lambing.

During morning chores on Wednesday, I noticed a bag of fluid coming out of Ali and assumed lambing was imminent. I checked her hourly all day and night and saw no change. She was acting normal, eating and looking spunky. I put her in a separate pen and gave her caulophyllum 30 c to encourage contractions.

On Thursday, March 20, I did the same as on Wednesday. But during morning chores on Friday, March 21, I noticed a foot coming out and a very strong smell. I watched her, assuming labor would progress, but saw no contractions and no progress for 1-1/2 hours. So I put on gloves, reached inside and felt a head. Ali tried to push while I pulled the lamb. It was extremely difficult to pull, as one leg was forward and one back. I soon sensed the lamb was dead. I was able to grab the other leg and reposition it to help get the lamb out – and it was, indeed, dead.

I assumed that once I got the first lamb out, any others would follow, if they were present. I waited, but Ali had no contractions, even after I milked one side to prompt contractions. At that point I thought only one lamb may have been present. Ali was eating hay and seemed to be doing OK.

I returned about 4 p.m. and she still hadn’t lambed. When I checked around 6 p.m., Ali didn’t look good, gave off a very strong smell and had a temperature of 105.7. I called support people but not the vet, as I didn’t want to use antibiotics. One contact said I should go back inside and assess the situation. I tied Ali up so that she would remain still. She did a great job of allowing me entry while keeping still.

I went in all the way to my elbow and felt something hard, like a head. I was able to grab it.  There were no other objects with the head (no feet), so I just grabbed either side of the head and pulled. It was not easy to pull and smelled very bad! My gut feeling, logic and the smell told me it wasn’t alive, so I didn’t have to worry about harming it. Ali worked with me and pushed.

When I could see the head, I reached in and found a foot – which came loose when I pulled it, as did the skin on the head. Eventually I was able to pull the whole body out, with difficulty due to its decomposition. I gave the ewe arnica 200 right away, as well as two droppers of caulophyllum (making a solution of the pellets in water and shaking it) – remedies often used for a collection of symptoms, or “rubrics,” in this case inertia of the uterus. At 8:15 her temperature was 105. I came in the house to get penicillin but decided to call Diane Schivera, since I did not want to give penicillin but didn’t want the ewe to die.

Diane assured me there were options, and we made a plan to give her antibacterials, including garlic, echinacea, grapefruit seed extract and aloe; to keep Ali hydrated; and to keep giving homeopathic pyrogen. If her temperature rose to 107, I would give antibiotics. Meanwhile, I gave her sepia and pyrogen and drench with aloe vera juice, echinacea tincture, grapefruit seed extract, garlic barrier, vitamin C and water. (A drench is a liquid poured down the animal’s throat.) Here is the schedule I followed after that.

Time Temp. Drench Homeopathic Rx Notes and other treatments
Fri. 3/21
  9:35 p.m. 104.4 3/4 qt. w/water pyrogen 30 c after milking Cleaned stall. Ali is eating hay, preferring  first-cut and not eating second-cut. She seems tired but has no discharge or bleeding.
Sat. 3/22
  1 a.m. 103.6 3/4 qt. w/water Dropper full of caulophylum (shaken 20 times), sepia 30 c, pyrogen 30c  
  5:30 a.m. 103 1 qt. w/water   Ali is lying down, chewing cud.
  9:30 a.m. 103.4 3/4 qt. w/water arnica 200,
pyrogen 30 c
Eating hay but not too interested in grain (I had given her some the previous afternoon). Tried to milk her, but she is anxious and didn’t want to go in stand, so I didn’t milk much.
  2 p.m. 103.7 1 qt. w/water sepia 30 c She is pushing, as if having slight contractions.
  6 p.m. 103.5 1 qt. w/water caulophyllum and pyrogen Eating barley, alfalfa and kelp but no interest in calendula flowers. I milked colostrum; milking went a little better.
  10 p.m. 1 qt. w/water      
Sun. 3/23
  7 a.m. 103.5 1 qt. w/water sepia 30 c Ali is not eating grain. She is chewing her cud, coughing a bit and seems sad. I give her fresh hay, warm water, kelp and yeast. My gut feeling is to leave her alone – stop the drenching and let her rest.
  11:30 a.m.     caulophyllum to help with whatever she seemed to be pushing She seems to be pushing, as if having contractions, and she is chewing her cud. I give another douche with salt, iodine, echincaea and garlic barrier and take her for a walk outside – she isn’t very cooperative.
  1 p.m.   1/2 qt. w/o water    
  2 p.m. 104.7   pyrogen 30 c  
  2:15 p.m. 104.7   pyrogen 30 c  
  2:45 p.m. 103.8   pyrogen 30 c She is chewing her cud. I douche her with calendula tea, holding her closed so that it stays in for a while.
  3:23 p.m.     pyrogen 30 c  
  6:25 p.m. 103.7 1/2 qt. w/water pyrogen 30 c I milk her on a stand (with a ramp for her). A few drops of light-colored blood are dripping, with no smell.
Mon. 3/24
  6:30 a.m. 103.8 1 qt. w/water pyrogen 30 c I milk her.
  2 p.m. 104   pyrogen 30 c  
  2:20 p.m.   1 qt. w/water   I give her sheep minerals (she isn’t very interested). She is eating hay but is “hunched over.”
  6:45 p.m. 104 1 qt. w/water   She is eating hay and grain. I milk her. She is trying to push something red and firm out. I am not sure if it is the placenta or vagina.
  8 p.m.       I feel inside her and decide it isn’t placenta coming out, since it seems to be connected and ridged.
  8:45, 9, 9:15, 9:45 p.m.   rhus tox 30 c  
  10:52 p.m.     rhus tox 30 c pyrogen  
  11 p.m.
      I sew her vagina shut, pushing the vagina back inside while numbing her swollen outer folds with ice. She pushes against me intensely, internally. I soak a curved tapestry needle and dental floss in alcohol, make a knot in end of the floss (double thickness) and pour iodine on the tissue before, during and after sewing. I sew in the bottom and then cross over and sew in the top, making a Z.
  11:50 p.m.     arnica 200 c I douse her labia with iodine.
Tues. 3/25
  12:30 a.m.     rhus tox She is still pushing and is standing and chewing her cud. I notice a few drops of blood from sewing.
  6:58 a.m.     pyrogen The swelling seems to have gone down some. I do not check her temperature, since she seems to push when I do that. Instead, I monitor it by her behavior. She is “hunched” but is eating grain and hay. I milk her in her stall.
  8 a.m.   1 qt. w/water   She is chewing her cud and standing.
  Noon   1 qt. w/water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt   She is up and chewing her cud but still “hunched.”
  1:30 p.m.     pyrogen She is lying down and chewing her cud.
  3:30 p.m.     rhus tox I give rhus tox because she is pushing. She is chewing her cud.
  6 p.m.   1 qt. w/water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt   I milk her. She eats grain.
  6:15 p.m.     pyrogen  
Wed. 3/26
  6:30 a.m. 102.4 1 qt. w/ water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt   She eats grain and hay. I milk her in her stall. Her urine looks whitish, like yogurt.
  6 p.m.       I milk her in her stall. She eats grain and hay.
  6:15 p.m.
Thurs. 3/27
  6:30 a.m. 101.2     She is drinking from a water bucket and is eating grain and hay. She is still in her stall; I want to wait a day before putting her outside.
5:30 p.m.     pyrogen in her water Ali is full of vim and vigor – baahing and looking to be let out of the pen. She looks much healthier, like her old self. She walks up on the milking stand, eats grain and gets milked. She starts eating second cut hay, with gusto, and drinks from her water bucket. The swelling seems to have gone down a lot. There may be a slight discharge – hard to tell.
Fri. 3/28
  6 a.m.
  7:15 a.m.     pyrogen  
  1 p.m.
    pyrogen and rhus tox in water I give remedies because she is pushing.
  5:30 p.m.       I milk her and put her outside.
  9 p.m.   1 qt. w/ water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt   I put her back inside and notice a milky white discharge.
Sat. 3/29
  6 a.m. 102.8     Milk her and put her outside.
  6 p.m. 102.6 1 qt. w/ water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt   I milk her and put her outside. I see a white discharge – no smell.
Sun. 3/30
  6 a.m. 102.3 1 qt. w/ water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt
  I milk her. No discharge.
  6 p.m. 102.6   pyrogen White discharge dripping. I milk her and keep her inside.
Mon. 3/31
  6 a.m.
  1 qt. w/ water + 3 Tbsp. yogurt
  Milky white discharge, but less – and still with no smell. I cannot find stitches; they have dissolved. Put her outside.
  8 a.m.     pyrogen Continued with drench and pyrogen until discharge is gone (4/1).
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