Some of you might find this interesting. It is a note from a fellow sheep producer about identifying a problem in a ewe with lambs that went off her feed. A worm caused problem. This producer is in the USA.

We have had an "off" ewe for a couple weeks now, finally figured out what was wrong.

Pregnant southdown ewe, due Feb 11th with twins, would be 2 years old in June, in average condition. Initial symptoms hanging back during feeding for several feedings in a row. Otherwise appeared normal. Temp normal. Separated her and she still wasn't eating well, almost no grain. Would eat some hay, probably about half of what I'd consider normal. Drinking normal. Acted bright and alert.


Treated as ketosis (High energy electrolytes 3x/day, Ca oral sid) for 24 hours. Then finally caught urine, checked for ketosis, negative. Stopped ketosis drenching. Still appeared normal otherwise, except was doing a lot of digging in the pen, so assumed that perhaps she was going abort. Went on for a couple days, nothing happened. Temp dropped to 101.0, appetite dropped more.


Pulled blood, ran cbc, chem panel, all normal, except white count was high end of normal. Still not sure what was going on, so started on antibiotics (Nuflor) and gave Banamine one time. Eating improved for 24 hours and then went back to the same, temp stayed around 101. Really puzzled at this point. Started drenching again because I was worried she wasn't getting enough energy for her lambs.

Was guessing at this point that the only other thing it might be was gut related, so decided to send in a fecal for occult blood test. Got a fresh fecal, and ran a fecal for parasites too.... (occult blood came back normal)


Huge surprise... loads of Barber Pole worm eggs in the fecal!!! Wormed her, then 12 hrs later treated with antacid and probiotics, and 48 hrs later she is acting 100% normal. Todays fecal had no eggs in it, but I'll reworm her in a couple of weeks too.

The thing I felt was especially interesting was that we have cut back our worming on adult ewes to about 5%. We've been using Famacha for about a year, and only worming thin ewes before that. This particular ewe was purchased this spring, wormed initially when bought, but never needed it after that. Famacha grades were optimal every time she was checked, and she was never thin at all. And her blood work indicated she was not anemic.

I never would've guessed that parasites could cause such a strong lack of appetite without any other symptoms. And that they would bother her gut that much without shown any signs of anemia.