Mastitis

We've been raising sheep for 10 years now, and just got our first case of mastitis.

Mastitis is an infection in the udder. Any nursing mammal can get mastitis, even humans. Sometimes caused by a plugging of the udder that doesn't allow milk to drain, it can get infected. My research over the weekend showed that this can be more common in ewes with multiple lambs. Yup, it's Sharon, our mom of triplets.

Sharon has always had triplets. This is her first year of being able to feed them all. We watched her so closely for the first 3-4 days to make sure all babies were thriving and eating. All seemed to be going so well with her.

Fast forward to last week. I noticed one night that one side of her udder looked bigger than the other. I figured that might not be such a big deal, maybe 2 of them were favoring one side.

Then about a day later, it looked like Han, one of her three, was a bit hungry. Lambs kind of scrunch up their rear ends and tuck their tails if they are getting hungry. He kept trying to drink. His brother or sister were almost always on her right side. He would walk up to the left, try to drink, and walk away.

I grabbed him and gave him some of R2D2's bottle. He drank it happily. He was hungry.

So I was able to walk up to Sharon, while she was busy eating and check if her teat was plugged up. Oh lord. It was hard as a rock. That could have been from being engorged, if the babies couldn't drink. So I tried to milk it. Solid mass came out.

Bam, I ran in the house to research mastitis and what to do. Antibiotics, hot compresses and milking it out. We did all of that. She is alert, eating and drinking well, and it does not seem that the infection is dragging her down.

Falcon and Chewie seem to be full and happy, drinking from mom, and I also saw them sneaking from Cindy. Han, however, is being left in the dust. So he is now fully being supplemented with a bottle, along with R2D2. He is desperately following his mother and trying to drink from her, but he is sharing one teat with 2 other siblings.

Her infection might make that udder inoperable for life. For a mama ewe that always has triplets, this is not good for her future. She may well be on the cull list, along with Cindy, which breaks my heart.

We called the vet, who called in a prescription for the proper antibiotic for this type of infection, and he also recommended a treatment that gets inserted right into her utter. We gave her both last night, getting ready to give the second doses of each this morning. We are hoping to save the udder, so we can keep the mama, and so that all three babies can grow up big and strong.

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