When sheep and goats have stomach diseases their droppings usually become soft, watery and smelly. There are many conditions that cause diarrhoea. These include colibacillosis, paratyphoid, Johne's disease, Rift Valley fever (Slenkdalkoors), coccidiosis, worms and poisonous plants.
This condition is caused by a germ (bacteria). It usually affects lambs/kids under 2 weeks of age. This age group is usually affected because of one or more of the following reasons:
The germ causing colibacillosis is present in the droppings of sick sheep and goats. When lambs/kids eat food or drink water contaminated with these droppings they get sick.
The animals are depressed and not eating. They have a watery, whitish-yellow or greyish diarrhoea that is known as "white scours". The umbilical cord is sometimes red and swollen. The back legs are dirty with droppings. Lambs/kids usually die as a result of dehydration.
There are no exact signs. The gut is usually redder than normal and filled with a greyish to yellowish liquid.
Colibacillosis can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to give sick lambs/kids sufficient water and electrolytes to prevent them from dying of dehydration. Ewes and does can be vaccinated 6 to 8 weeks before birth to protect their lambs/kids.
This disease is caused by a germ (bacteria). It usually affects older lambs and 2- to 4-tooth sheep and goats (1 to 2 years of age). The reasons for this include one or more of the following:
High numbers of Salmonella germs present in the environment, e.g. at the abattoir or feedlot.
They have a fever and do not eat. A watery green diarrhoea that is sometimes spotted with blood can be seen. They usually die within 7 days from dehydration or septicaemia. If they do not die within 7.
Sheep and goats have diarrhoea and become weak and dehydrated. In severe cases animals could die.
Gut is filled with a watery, foul-smelling liquid. Parts of the plant are sometimes found in the stomach.
Immediate treatment consists of giving enough clean drinking water. Giving activated charcoal sometimes also helps. If possible, take the animals to alternative grazing where poisonous plants do not occur.
Inspect your farm regularly for poisonous plants and remove them. Ensure that sheep and goats have enough food so that they need not eat the poisonous plants. Take special care when bringing new animals onto your farm, because they would not yet know to avoid poisonous plants and are most likely to be affected. Also take special care during early spring when some poisonous plants start to grow before green grass becomes available.
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