Dorper sheep producing liquid under the muscle and rib cage causing death

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6 years 3 months
Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 08/09/2015 - 18:30

Dorper sheep producing liquid under the muscle and rib cage causing death

Hi I need help with my Black Headed Dorper sheep!!!!!!

 

I have both white and black headed dorper sheep on my property, lately our black headed dorper sheep is being effected by some kind of illness and its only been effecting the black headed dorpers (white and black headed dorpers are kept in the same paddocks). We have been drenching them regularly and they are updated on their vaccinations.

 

 

The signs are bloated, as they walk you can hear liquid substance like water (out of the stomach) so their belly gets really fat and bloated like, they struggle to breath and just before they die they have probelms in walking, they fall over like they lose feeling in their legs and then when they have no longer have feeling in their legs they lay down and the next stage is death. so far we had 2 mothers and 1 pregnant sheep that has died from this illness(both black headed dorpers) die from this illness. We got our local vet to come out to have a look at their organs to see if the vet can identify the disease or the illness. The vet said he hasn't seen anything like this before. Once we opened up the body heaps of liquid came rushing out ( about 2 bucket loads out of one sheep) and that the liver had multiple white spots inside the liver but the vet had no idea what it was he said it wasn't liver fluke. 

 

So I am wondering if there is anyone out there with more experience or may have an idea what this illness is and what can we do about it.

 

thank you for your time and your answers!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last seen: 09/17/2019 - 18:07
Joined: 11/23/2011 - 09:38
Hi, It sounds as if your sheep are suffering from fungal toxin poisoning, such as Afflatoxin in peanuts or peanut hay, or Mycotoxin in grain or grass, or ergot poisoning: mainly found in rye grass. You cannot see or smell theses toxins in the feed. Could also be Copper poisoning from copper supplements. What have they been eating? Pasture type, weeds, supplements such as licks, grains, copper supplementation, urea containing lick blocks, molasses supplements etc. Some plants contain liver damaging toxins. Symptoms of fungal toxin poisoning are: as you have described. At autopsy the liver has patches of white all over it, these are dead liver cells. The heart has white streaks on it, these are dead heart muscle cells. The gall bladder is grossly swollen with fluid and the lungs and abdominal cavity are completely full of fluid. Reason for this is that the toxins make the capillaries leaky and the fluid from the blood stream leaks into the lungs, abdominal cavity and gall bladder and tissues etc. Please get back to us as soon as you can to confirm or not, these symptoms at autopsy. If it is their pasture, you will need to get them out that paddock asap. please let me know, I will be here all evening. regards, Barb
Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 08/09/2015 - 18:30

thanks barb 

 

no we haven't been feeding them grain or molasses and we don't have rye grass on our property, the vet went around our paddocks and he didn't find any weeds that will do anything like that. 

 

the fungal toxin poisoning you explained does sound like what our sheep are suffering from.

 

do you know how to prevent it or is there any treatment to give the effected sheep??

Last seen: 09/17/2019 - 18:07
Joined: 11/23/2011 - 09:38

Hi,

I don't know what region you live in, but Is the pasture very wet and perhaps long? In areas of winter rain, because of the cool conditions, often the pasture doesn't have a chance to dry out, which will allow mould and fungi to breed up in it. Some types of toad stools can cause these symptoms too.  If pasture is rank there can be moulds and fungi in it. If there are, then these can produce the toxins which will kill animals. The presence of these toxins can be detected in tissue samples taken at autopsy in the laboratory: Liver, Heart, lungs and Gall Bladder.

 

Unfortunately, about 15 years ago, I lost three very valuable stud Boer Goat does to Afflatoxin poisoning, because I fed them Peanut hay. Looked great and smelled good and they loved it, but within three days they were dead. Couldn't save them because their heart and livers were destroyed. However, what killed them in the end was that they drowned in their own fluids.

 

I suggest that you tell your vet what I have said on this web site and if he wishes he can give me a contact number through the web site for his surgery and I can give him a call. I have never done this before, but in this case, If I can be of help, I will do this for you.

 

Tell him that I am Barbara Vincent,  the author of Farming Meat Goats: Breeding Production and Marketing for CSIRO LandLinks.

 

Once the animals develope symptoms, if they are removed from the source of the poisoning quickly,  and put onto dryer feed, there is some chance that they may survive as their livers and hearts can perhaps over time, repair themselves. Unfortunately there is no guarantee of this, as the damage may be too extensive.

 

Good luck and let me know how you're getting on with this problem.

 

Barb

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 08/09/2015 - 18:30

we live in Grafton NSW, at the moment it is cold but we haven't had rain for fair while ago. but we do have a swamp on our property we have it fenced off so our sheep dont eat the grass near the swamp but it does over flow sometimes due to rain or some water flows down from surrounding properties, which could also has copper supplements as well. the overflowing water runs through this ditch that leads into one our paddocks that our sheep is being kept in, so when it over flows the grass on one side of the paddock it wet which they eat to grasss near that. so yes it could be the damp/wet grass that has fungi growing. our vet did think it could be the water as that he couldn't find any posionous weeds in the paddocks, he said that it could be the kangroos peeing and pooing near the swamp which carried through the over flowing water. but he wasn't sure if it was or not.

 

i will let my vet know what you have said and see what he thinks aswell. and if it is this fungi you are talking about is there anything we can put on the infected grass tht kills this fungi in the grass before the sheep eats it. so there isn't anything we can really do if the sheep is showing signs of this illness other from removing the sheep from the paddock?? because the sheep was removed from the paddock before showing signs.

 

a big thank you for your time and your help as you have been a massive help to us 

 

Thank you

Last seen: 09/17/2019 - 18:07
Joined: 11/23/2011 - 09:38

Hi Sammy,

It might be an idea if you could print the answers I gave you to give to the vet, or give the vet the web site so he can read it for himself, if you don't have a printer available.

It's dreadful when you are losing stock and can't nail the answer. Problem is, that there are so many diseases and conditions to test for in the lab, that it is really hard if you have no starting point. I suggest that this could be one.

 

good luck,

Barb

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 02/26/2015 - 13:47

Hello Sammy,

 

Did your vet take organ and fluid samples and do a tox-screen? - I'm unsure as to how a diasgnosis can be made with out determing if and what toxins are present - then you can track down source and or causal agents. 

 

Agree with the vet insofar as it is not liver fluke - they are very easy to see in the liver and ill health progression is a slow process - Liver fluke does not descriminate between breeds either.

 

Peter

Marybank. 

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 08/09/2015 - 18:30

yea Barb, it is sad that we are loosing stock as we lost another ewe yesterday morning and we have another one that is showing signs of this illness :( and now we have three orphan lambs and about to have four orphan lambs :(

 

and yea i will see if the vet will take some samples to have a more of an idea of what this illness is before effect more of our sheep and i will also give him a copy of your suggestions that you have gave me.

 

thank you so much for your time you have been very helpful.

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 10/22/2012 - 11:13
Very odd that this is so breed specific. I'll keep an eye on this thread to see how it works out. Cheers Rob.
Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 09/23/2011 - 16:27

Hi

 

This is quite serious, your vet should be contacting the DPI as well as yourself. He should be  taking samples for pathology. For a vet to know of more than one animal dying on a property,   not knowing the cause, and doing nothing more is a bit unusual. Contact the DPI.

Barb has given good advice but its time to get pathology reports and the cause identified through official channels.

 

Mike

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