Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Death of a Deformed Lamb

This last year the Shetland lambs we have had born are all sired by Nikolai, our black-and-white ram. Only one of the lambs turned out to have Nikolai's black-and-white pattern. And now, she has died.

Her problem was that she was born deformed--- she had a recto-vaginal fistula (hole between rectum and vagina) and a imperforate anus (no hole for the anus). Somehow I managed to not notice this at birth.

The lamb, Rohanna, seemed quite all right at first. But then I noticed her straining and thought she was constipated. She was rather hard to catch, but when I finally did, I noticed her problem. I looked through my vet books and only the big red Merck book mentioned this possibility.

It's always miserable to find out your best lamb isn't going to live. I thought of 'doing her in', but I really don't like to do so.

Rohanna was born in early May, and lived until mid-September. In her last days, she lost interest in eating, and finally grew weak. Her last day, I had to carry her back from pasture. I found her dead the next morning not too far from where I put her.

Internet searching on Rohanna's deformity led to very little information. I don't know whether it's hereditary or just an error in pre-birth development. Just to be on the safe side, I'm not going to repeat the breeding that produced her, but am not sure there is any point to keeping all of Rohanna's relatives away from the ram in question.