Sheep Polio and Blind sheep

2 years 1 month ago #557268 by MickeyK
My very precious Valais Blacknose sheep is recovering from Sheep Polio (Vitamin B1 deficiency) and has been left blind - hopefully temporarily! Just wanting to hear from anyone else who has had this problem with sheep and how long recovery took, and did they get their sight back. Also keen to hear any advice about how to care for our sheep if she is permanently blind. She's a pet and very easy to handle and very loving, so humans being close to her doesn't stress her. I was wondering if a harness on a wire between water, food and shelter would be a good idea or would this be too distressing? Should we just let her wander the paddock? We have observed her walking into things, but other times she seems to get around fairly well. We wonder if she is more blind in one eye than the other? But she clearly has some serious eye trouble. Appreciate any advice.

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2 years 1 month ago - 2 years 1 month ago #557270 by LongRidge
Suggestions, not advice :-) . Prevent her from being able to fall through fences by ensuring the wires are tight. We have found that animals that are not used to being tied get themselves in a tangle. But it might work for her.
We have not had success in keeping animals with thiamine deficiency alive, but it is worth trying. Check that she does not also have an eye infection by seeing if either or both her eyes are runny.
You could try feeding her vegemite on small pieces of bread. Or much better would be to get some Vigest tonic from Farmlands, and drench this to her as per the instructions. It is fairly safe when given in the not-quite-right dosage.
We have found that with sheep that are visually impaired get around quite well by following their sheep friend.
PS. What is the broadleafed plant in the photo background? Is it poisonous.?
Also, has a vet seen this ewe?
Last edit: 2 years 1 month ago by LongRidge.

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2 years 2 weeks ago #557346 by Ronney
Replied by Ronney on topic Sheep Polio and Blind sheep
Hi there, your sheep has Polioencephalomalacia (hope I've spelt that right!). I've had three of these over the years and the problems occur if your farm is not "safe" and by that I mainly mean waterways of some sort going through your paddocks.

The first two I had went into the freezer as they were completely blind and the paddocks were not safe for them. I still have a ewe which has partial sight and can see the drains and avoids the swampy areas. She has learnt where the gates are to the other paddocks when I shift her mob. She is not a pet and her blindness has made her spooky but she is getting better. She has lambed twice and knows exactly where her lamb is!

Back to yours. No, she will not regain her sight. If caught very early and injected with thiamine, there is a chance that they might but most of us don't see the problem until too late. However, there is no reason as to why she shouldn't be with you for a long time, lamb if you want her to and find her way around her territory. Please, don't put a harness on her as it will be distressing. They can smell water so she will find a trough with no problem, she will learn where the fences are as well as the trees, shelter and whatever else is in the paddock/s. Put another sheep with her - she will follow it and help with the sussing out of her world.

It's not what we want for our stock - but it's not the end of the world either. :)


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2 years 2 weeks ago #557347 by jeannielea
I agree with Ronnie. As she is not a lamb she will already know her way around quite well and if with other sheep she will hear/'feel' them and follow them around. But safe fencing is also important for her. We had a lamb born blind one year and she did well though Mum did not want to feed her. but she was a triplet so her siblings looked out for her. However she turned out to be deaf too and as they got older she developed other problems and had to be got rid of. I'm sure your one will be ok once she gets used to not seeing.

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