Sugar (the Fabulous) lambed for the first time today. She had a beautiful single ram overnight so this morning they moved to their private pen during morning feeds. He is a good-sized lamb just shy of 12lb.
When Penny came home from school to meet him this afternoon she noticed he had watery, foaming poop instead of the usual sticky, black meconium poop of a newborn. So after evening chores we observed him for any other symptoms and consulted our go-to book, Lamb Problems by Laura Lawson.
It is clear that he has a Clostridium infection. Clostridium is present in the soil and feces. He was born in the wrong place at the wrong time and bacteria can easily enter a newborn lamb through the umbilical cord at birth. This is an infection that proceeds extremely quickly and the problem is that the lamb did not have the opportunity to consume much colostrum before the bacteria took up residence in his gut and started reproducing. The clostridium bacteria produce a lethal toxin that attacks the lining of the gut.
Those first 24 hours are critical for a lamb to transition from being inside the ewe’s womb and transitioning to the outside world and consuming colostrum for all of its nutrition and also its antibodies. We vaccinate our ewes with the clostridium antitoxin 6 weeks before they lamb with the idea that the newborn lambs consuming the colostrum receive some immunity from their mothers before they get a cd/t shot later.
So treating this kind of infection is a bit of a hail mary. You need to kill all of the bacteria, keep the lamb having energy and help its immune system (which is hardly developed yet) while not destroying its gut health.
Tonight Little Sugar Cube got a dose of clostridium antitoxin 3x as much as a mature ewe would receive. Then Vit B (help in glucose production for energy), oral antibiotic, Vit A&D shot (to support immune system) and oral Vit E (immune system support again). I also tube fed him 2oz of electrolytes (children’s pedialyte) with a little of his mother’s expressed colostrum.
I’ll be back out at 2am to tube feed him electrolytes again . I don’t do the middle-of-the-night visit unless things are critical. Here’s hoping for the best.