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Monday, January 23, 2012

Gummer Sheep and other Geriatric Creatures

I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas about supplemental feeding gummer or broken mouthed sheep?  Chunk, from the post below, routinely comes into the barn for a couple of cups of either sheep feed or pelletized alfalfa but she is still losing condition (and is no longer living up to her name).  The "Sheep and Goat Medicine Book" mentions supplementing geriatric sheep with a high fat feed such as cottonseed which is readily available in southern states (not likely readily available here), but no other high fat content supplement is mentioned.  I'm wondering if sunflower seeds would be a good supplement or if anyone has any other ideas?

I hadn't thought much about aging animals until recently. We have a llama who has a bum knee and has lost social status who has lost condition and this winter has had more problems putting weight on her leg (surgery for this type of condition is in the few thousand dollar range).  We have two sheep that are just turning 10 (Chunk and Fallon) who are losing condition (Fallon isn't bad- she still has most of her teeth), and Amey who is only 4 but has never thrived since a wee lamb and is painfully thin.  Waters, the lab cross, is 12 and CeCe the Newf will be 10 this year.  We have many more younger animals of course, but we apparently are going to need to plan ahead and figure out to what degree we are able to care for our animals so that they are leading  (relatively) pain free and happy lives.  Everyone still seems happy if not completely fit.  Will and I did agree that perhaps the most humane course of action for Pikachu the llama would be to not have her endure another winter.  We shall see when the time comes...perhaps she will rally this summer and we will find Chunk and Amey a yummy supplement that will "chunk" them up.

We WILL be sure to dig a big hole on the property when the ground thaws....just in case.  A grim and perhaps impossible task to do in the grips of a frozen winter.


  1. you can try soaking feed in warm water to soften it,including hay. Also warm water and molasses is a nice boost for them to drink.
    We lost a few sheep in 2011 to old age..never gets easier..

  2. If they are just missing their front teeth, then you can probably get by with keeping hay in front of them - not grass they have to nip up with no teeth. We fed Crazy Esther a large pelleted feed called Ewe Nuggets and with her back teeth in decent shape, she ate them just fine. An old farmer told me the easiest way to fatter up sheep is bread. He knew someone who bought day old bread and fed it. Not the healthiest sounding option and I've never tried it, but I did file it away.

    Those darn babydolls are super cute!

  3. Thank you for the advice everyone. I also had a friend email me with a recipe that included rolled oats, wheat germ and molasses. I put some of that together with some of the Timothy Hay Pellets and while Chunk thought it was good, she preferred to pick out the pellets! So, I think I'll just try to keep some pellets moist for her...the silly thing.

    Llillith, the wary llama mama, LOVED the mixture. Evidently she could smell it, because she was leaning over my shoulder making cooing llama noises at the bucket. She ate a few handfulls out of my hand which for her is amazing...