Sunday, 11 September 2016

Flystrike strikes

5th - 9th September 2016
Oh the joys of going back to work.

But before that I had a bit of a surprise when the roofers turned up unexpectedly Monday morning to fit a new Velux window for us. In these modern times when there are so many instant ways to communicate, some people and organisations never cease to amaze me.
Here's the half-finished job. I'd love to show you the finished job but we're still waiting a week later!

On Thursday I came home from work and went down to check the sheep. This usually just involves counting them and making sure they are all feeding and respond when I call them. I check them every day.
But today one of the sheep was sat away from the others and did not respond. She had a thoroughly miserable look on her face. I went over to investigate and she didn't even get up. The reason soon became apparent as there were flies buzzing around her and I could quickly see large clusters of fly eggs laid in her wool. On closer inspection some of these eggs had hatched and there were colonies of small maggots on her skin. Some of her wool was wet and a couple of patches just fell away from her skin.
Although I had never experienced it before, this was unmistakably our first case of flystrike. The exceptionally warm, muggy weather had obviously contributed to this happening.

Flystrike basically occurs when a blowfly chooses to lay its eggs on a sheep. This is usually if they have laid in sheep poo or if they have a messy back end. Once the eggs hatch the maggots start eating into the skin - DISGUSTING.
The sheep very quickly indeed becomes ill and will die if not treated.

I separated the sheep from the others and gathered together dagging shears, scissors, hot water and cloths and Crovect ( a flystrike prevention application which can also be used in emergency to apply when flystrike occurs) and waited for Sue to return from work.

The affected sheep was one of the two commercials which we bought in this year. The Shetlands seem very resistant to flystrike, especially as they are kept in a very open situation, so we have not applied Crovect as standard this past two years.
We set about cutting back as much wool as we could from the affected area. As we did so we found more and more maggots, all tiny and obviously fairly newly hatched. We then washed the area down as well as we could with warm, soapy water before applying a good amount of Crovect all over.
This is a strong chemical and probably didn't make the sheep feel any better.

We then moved the sheep up to the top paddock so we could keep an eye on her and she could have some peace and quiet. She just stood, swaying from side to side, head down looking thoroughly dejected.

Sue was awake at 5 on Friday morning and got up to check on the sickly sheep. I pointed out that there was nothing more we could do now apart from wait, but she still insisted on getting up. The sheep was, in fact, looking quite a lot brighter. It had been eating grass and had taken itself into the shed. Its eyes and whole demeanour seemed much brighter.
We will keep an eye for a while yet and will treat the other sheep, but fingers crossed we caught it in time.

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