I have a problem with overeating.  Hey buster, it’s not me who overeats, it’s my piggy sheep that overeat.  See, at Flip Flop Ranch, animals tend to escape…a lot.  I forget to lock the gate or they slip through  a fence we thought  would hold them, or the most recent escape was the sheep busted a gate open.  And where do they go?

enterotoxemia overeating disease sheep won't stand sheep won't eat sheep has fever

The great escape

Straight to the chicken feed.

I mean, how could they resist that scrumptious mix of corn, wheat and oats?

So that’s where overeating disease comes in.  This is a disease sheep get literally from eating too much.  What happens is the sheep eat too much rich food or have an abrupt shift in their diet and the bacteria in their gut get out of balance.  The bad bacteria have a hostile kamikaze takeover.

Clostridium perfringens type C and D eat up all the grain nutrients and grow like crazy.  What’s the problem you ask?  Clostridium actually releases a toxin that poisons the animal.  And it is not nice to watch.

sick sheep

Sheep with Enterotoxemia

We’ve lost two sheep so far with 3 more sick.  Two are out of the woods and we think a third will make it.  The sucky thing is that Clostridium overdose, also called enterotoxemia, is totally preventable with a vaccination.  The previous owner however, didn’t vaccinate and since we’ve only had the sheep for 2 weeks…well, you see the results.

Kinda makes you rethink the whole debate over whether or not to vaccinate your children…

Symptoms:

  1. First, the sheep stood apart from everyone else and didn’t come running when they were brought food.
  2. They seemed lethargic and dull eyed.
  3. They stopped eating
  4. They spiked a fever (check the temperature as soon as a sheep seems like there’s something wrong)
  5. They began to have tremors, seizures that would come and go and got worse and worse and happened more and more often.
  6. The fever spiked even  higher (107.5 was the worse we saw)
  7. They began to grind their teeth in pain
  8. Death


Ugh, that was horrible.  The poor babies.  Raising animals is not easy and you have to be tough.  As soon as your animals overeat (if they’re not vaccinated) or at the very least when they begin to be listless and just pick at the food, we immediately give them 5ccs of Clostridium Antitoxin.  Twice a day, we give 5ccs of Thiamine and 30ccs of Bio-sponge, a charcoal supplement that helps absorb the toxins.

All the meds the sheep get at one time

Since they’re not going to eat for days, they need something to keep them going.  We use Caro syrup and give them 35ccs about 10x per day or more with plenty of syringes of water.

When (or hopefully if) they spike a fever, we also twice daily give them 5ccs of Dexamethasone and 25ccs of DMSO.  This helps take down the fever and inflammation occurring in the brain.  We hose the sheep down and even put ice on them to keep the fever down.  Banamine occasionally throughout the day helps with the fever and the pain.

sheep enterotoxemia sheep polio overeating disorder

Gulf Coast Sheep with ice under its belly, arms, legs and groin as well as a wet rag on its head. We also wet its wool with water

The vet didn’t say the following was necessary, but we’ve read on the internet to give penicillin g so we give 4ccs twice daily the first couple days and 2 ccs after that if the sheep is still alive.  We also give 5ccs of probes to keep the rumen going since we’re hitting them pretty hard with antibiotics.

If you catch the sheep early this will keep your sheep alive.  If you don’t, well according to the vet you will lose  7/10 so you just have to  do your best and pray a lot.