Babydoll Sheep Care: Worm Management
I’m going to be periodically sharing more information on our Babydoll sheep and their care because we’re learning as we go! Also because one year ago I started researching the breed and general sheep care and was disappointed by the lack of resources. This is also a way for me to document the care we’re providing, what’s working and what we need to change as we move forward. Please remember these are only my opinions and I’m simply sharing what we’re doing. Today I’m focusing on Babydoll Sheep Care: Worm Management.
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We’ve had our Babydolls for 6 months now. Sometimes it feels like we’ve always had them, and sometimes I’m reminded how much I still have to learn. My guess is this is how it will always feel because each sheep is different and well things are always changing haha! But I want to talk about some things we’ve done in the way of care up to this point as well as some ways we’re preparing for our first Winter.
Worms are a hot topic when it comes to sheep care. They’re the issue I’ve read about over and over again, both while researching before we got the sheep, and then afterwards when we were faced with them first hand. While I found lots of information about the threat of worms, I found little helpful information on specific treatment/treatment plans.
I believe this is because parasitic worms vary so greatly from region to region, pasture to pasture, and sheep to sheep. So before I share what we’re doing I want to remind you we’re located in Southern, IL, our pasture is brand new, and our 4 sheep are 9 months old.
When we brought Griffin home we almost lost him to worms. I picked him up at 12 weeks old on a Friday. Saturday afternoon he started having pretty severe scours. I contacted the breeder we got him from and he said that he hadn’t treated him for worms because they only treat “as needed”. I assumed stress of travel, the move, and new pasture to be the cause. But by Wednesday they had only gotten worse and he was becoming more lethargic (laying down in the pasture while the others grazed) so I took in a stool sample to find that he did in fact have a heavy worm load.
Upon vet recommendation I treated him with a shot of antibiotics, drenched him with Cydectin, and continued to give him Power Punch twice daily, which I had started administering on the first Sunday we had him. I also continued to give him power punch mixed with probiotics for another week.
Throughout this time I was researching and speaking to the best resource I have, the breeder who I got our other 3 sheep from. A good breeder should be ready and willing to share information! She’s a second generation shepherd and said that she’s only had 2 cases like that in 7 years. She urged me to trust my gut and I’m glad I did.
I will NEVER forget that Thursday when I went out to check on Griffin and he was laying in the pasture. I walked all the way out to him and started picking him up before he even woke up. It felt like he was giving up and I thought we were going to lose him. If we had I don’t know what I would have done moving forward. My worst fear had come to life in the few short weeks of being a sheep momma myself. But it wasn’t my fault.
You see, after that happened I started researching even more. But instead of researching worms in sheep I just started learning about parasitic worms and their life cycles. I realized I needed to understand them to get ahold of the problem and deal with it the best we can in our environment. All sheep have worms. When they start to have too many then we see outward physical signs, which prompt us to treat them.
However, the treatment doesn’t kill every type of worm at every lifecycle stage. A worms life cycle takes 2-3 weeks. Like all parasites the worms need a host. And the way it works with sheep is that they ingest the larvae, which are found on grass, prominently short wet grass. The sheep ingest them, the worms grow and lay eggs, which are passed through the sheep’s feces into the grass and the cycle repeats.
Griffin came to us with a heavy worm load. As they get older they build natural defenses against them. So this not only impacted him then, but set his immense system up to be weak. He obviously also brought a worm problem to our property that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. Be selective when choosing a breeder!
Side note: We weighed all the sheep yesterday and Griffin is finally neck and neck with our wether, Theodore 🙂
Treating Worms Preventatively
I would highly recommend speaking to your veterinarian about your sheep beforehand. This way you can discuss options for treatments and general veterinary care. Since we were thrown into it before I did that, our vet, whom I cannot say enough good things about, got to know our babies quickly during that time. Because within a month Griffin started having soft stool again.
Preventative treatments can be controversial because there is the risk of worm resistance. However, our Dr. recommended a new treatment plan where you administer Panacur for 3 consecutive days monthly, and then on the third month you administer Cydectin on the 4th day. The science behind it is that the Panacur kills some life stages and awakens others. All those awakened are killed by Cydectin. You repeat this plan in the Spring, Summer, and Fall when worms are at their biggest threat. With Griffin’s situation being what it was I decided to start our sheep on this regimen and it’s worked wonderfully well for us.
When reading about worms and their lifecycle one thing became clear. I could control certain things about their environment that wouldn’t be conducive for a worm’s survival. Our sheep have access to the barn all day and they’re locked in it at night. When I sweep out their poop I put it into a compost bin so it’s that much less that’s going onto the grass.
I also lock the sheep in the barn for 24-48 hours after worming. This way anything that’s flushed out during that time is also put into the compost bin and not ingested by our sheep.
Since it is known that worms climb wet grass I don’t let our sheep out in the morning unit the dew has dried. We also keep the pasture cut long. We need to add more weed eaters lol!
I’m hoping we’re currently in the middle of our last preventative treatment for the year. I’m not sure if we’ll follow it or not starting in the Spring. I’ll let you know when we’re closer. The breeder who is my ultimate resource for sheep knowledge does not follow a preventative regimen and rarely has to treat for worms.
She checks her flock’s eyes with the FAMACHA chart weekly, as we do, and treats as necessary. This would be an ideal scenario for us as well. So my fingers are crossed for a healthy Winter and a fresh start in the Spring!
I’ll share more and edit as I learn what works for us! I’ll also be writing about what to keep on hand for your flock, shearing, hoof trimming, breeding, and more soon! But in the meantime here are some other resources that I’ve found!
And I also recommend this book I’m linking below. I’ve read it twice and referenced it several times already.
Babydoll Sheep Care: Worm Management
I know this isn’t a typical post, but I hope this helps someone out there who is learning about sheep or trying to figure out some different treatment approaches to worm management in their flock. I’m happy to try and answer any questions! And if nothing else I hope you enjoy seeing these squishy faces!
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today!
So much love,