It’s an unpleasant surprise when you discover your sheep have broken into the grain stash. Those who know anything about these woolly mammals are well aware that they always take more than necessary! Problem is, excess grain will cause them to bloat and usually leads to death. Unless…you treat your grain bloated sheep immediately.
My Full Disclaimer
Please hear me out: I don’t claim to be an experienced ‘sheep saver!’ I saw this treatment take place at a sheep breeder’s farm on 20+ ewes and recently, had to perform it on our own two meat lambs. In both cases, it was 100% successful.
However, in these two situations the culprits were caught early, before serious bloating had occurred!
Here’s the treatment plan!
Ingredients & Tools for Success
Anytime you are dealing with grain bloated sheep, speed is of utmost importance. The longer your ruminants remain untreated, the higher your risk of losing them. Deal with it now.
Ingredient #1: Yogurt With Live Cultures
To treat the sheep, you’ll need yogurt with live bacteria cultures. It can be homemade or store bought, so long as the good bacteria is present.
Ingredient #2: Apple Cider Vinegar
Along with yogurt, you’ll want a jug of apple cider vinegar. If purchasing, try to find vinegar with the ‘mother culture’ still in it. Homemade vinegar naturally contains this culture.
The Only Tool You Need
The only tool you need to treat grain bloated sheep is a large syringe. A disposable 2 oz (60 ml) will do the job nicely.
If you have sheep, I recommend keeping a few on hand. Most often, these can be purchased for a few dollars at your local feed store. If not, you can easily get one on Amazon!
Step 1: Treat Their Water
The very first thing you should do is add apple cider vinegar to your sheep’s water. For every 5 gallons, add (roughly) 1/2 C vinegar.
Step 2: How to Treat With Yogurt
Prepare your sheep’s yogurt by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to every 2 C (500 mls) of yogurt. Mix it well. Grab your syringe and head out to the sheep pen!
Note: when treating full size sheep, 2 C (500 mls) of yogurt will give you eight treatments. For lambs, 2 C (500 mls) will give you enough for 16 rounds.
For Adult Sheep
Adult sheep should receive 2 oz (60 mls) of yogurt per treatment. Yes, that’s one syringe full!
For Older Lambs
When dealing with older lambs that are no longer on milk, 1 oz (or 30 mls) of yogurt per treatment should suffice.
How to Give Yogurt to Your Sheep
Fill your syringe with yogurt.
Catch the first sheep. Gently insert your filled syringe into the side of it’s mouth. Be sure to push the syringe tip 1-2 inches toward the back of the sheep’s throat. Slightly tip the animal’s head upward and release the yogurt at a “swallow-able” speed!
Do this every 2-3ish hours the first day. In the following 24 hours, you should be able to decrease frequency to every 4 or so hours. By day 3, they will likely be out of the danger zone.
Wash Their Wool
Diarrhea is the result of overeating grain and also the result of all the yogurt you’ve been feeding them. If you have only a few sheep or a small flock, you may want to rinse the manure out of their wool as an extra precaution against flystrike!
Video of the Real Deal
If you like videos, here’s one of us treating our lambs in this manner. You’ll also get to see us rinse diarrhea for their woolly little buns as well!
I just wanted you to know that this saved my rams life I thought we were going to lose him and today he is up and ramming things and eating still hasn’t been vocal but almost normal thank you so so so much I woukd be lost without my oreo
This is a timely article for me! One of my goats was suffering bloat (yep! It was ‘mr McGreedy Pants” at the grain feed time!) and he was fading fast and every Vet for 50 miles closed for the day. I treat their water monthly with Apple Cider vinegar and I added baking soda and some fermented oat dough to the hay. Within 6 hours he was back out in the yard head butting his buddies and looking longingly at the grain trough…normally only used for final fattening..but he manages to get his snout in anyways!