Signs of Milk Fever in Sheep

This year we had two girls show varying signs of milk fever. At first I had no idea what I was seeing.  The first ewe was a couple weeks out and started to shiver a lot. She was lethargic and a bit of a mess.  I would take her temp and it was normal (102.6-103). I shrugged it off and figured she was just cold.  She bounced back a bit however, after giving birth she became really lethargic and was not eating. After talking to our friend we realized it was likely milk fever and she didn’t have enough calcium in her diet.  10 Antacids latter and she was back to normal.  

 

Not more than a week later I had another ewe this time she just showed signs of being lethargic and not eating a couple days after lambing.  I again provided a dose of antacids this time twice separated by a day. We did this because she still was not eating grain.  She has slowly begun to eat her rations again but has a small bag to feed two babies.  We continue to monitor.  I have started to bucket feed her on the side.  

From this point I made the call anyone carrying twins was getting a single dose (10 antacids) in their grain.   

Likely cause was due to our hay this year being from an over grown oat field.  We suplimented heavier early in the third trimester with grain with 60%+ with whole corn.  This could be another contributor.   

Signs of milk fever in sheep

  • lethargic
  • no temp (102-103) 
  • shivering
  • not eating

How do you treat milk fever in sheep - how do you give sheep antacids (Tums).  

  • For a 150lb sheep we give 8-10 antacids. 
  • The easiest was is to crush them with a crucible or in a pinch any blunt object (even a spare 2x4 with a bucket works). Once you crush it up throw it in some grain and feed the sheep.  
  • If they are not eating grain then you have to force the tablets in there mouth and hold it shut until they chew and swallow (they will hold the antacids in there mouth and spit them out like a two year old, so verify it was swallowed).  
  • The other option is to crush the antacids and make a liquid drench.   
 Antacids make for a quick source of calcium for sheep with milk fever.   

Antacids make for a quick source of calcium for sheep with milk fever.