Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vaccines and Drawing Blood

Today was vaccine day for June, Purl, and Darla. The only vaccine I usually give my animals is the CD/T shot. This protects against Colostridium Perfringens and types C and D Tetanus toxoid. I give it about a month prior to lambing/kidding, but this year I'm doing it slightly earlier since these animals are new to me and I'm not sure of their previous vaccine schedule. They all get 2 mL now and another dose in 21 days. This will cover their lambs/kids until weaning, when the lambs will get their own vaccines. The mommas will get this every year.

Devin took pictures for me, since David was helping me out. I sat Purl down on her rump for her injection. It's mostly easy to do unless you get a very strong or stubborn sheep, then it can take a few times to get them down.

First, turn the sheep's head against the body. This kinda disorients them and makes it easier to maneuver them.

With your other hand, push down and back on the hip of the animal. Most of the time they'll fall right over. Keep the head turned into the side until you can position the animal so it's leaning back against your legs, this will prevent the sheep from trying to get up.

This is a subcutaneous injection (SQ) so I like to give it almost in the arm pit of the animal. Sometimes vaccines can leave small lumps or abcesses, so I give it on the body side of the arm pit, not on the leg.

Find a clean section of skin, pinch it so you have a little tented area, and inject the needle. Push the plunger and voila!

And check out Purl's udder. She's starting to bag up a little!

Remember when I couldn't get a pregnant signal on Darla? Well, I don't think she's bred. On December 23rd I thought I saw she was in heat. I took her to my coworker's place and put her in with their ram, but neither Darla nor the ram were interested in each other. I felt like I was being paranoid. Well, yesterday I thought Darla might be in heat again (saw some mucous on her vulva) and it was 16 days since the 23rd. A sheep heat cycle is about 17 days, so she very well could be in heat again.

Since I can't stand not knowing, I decided to send a sample of blood to Bio Tracking to have them do the BioPRYN pregnancy test on her. It's only $7.50 per sample, which is pretty cheap to me. Once they do the test, I'll have definite results and will be able to find a ram to breed her to. I really hope it's not too late! Sheep tend to be seasonal breeders (breeding in the fall), so I hope she will still have another heat or two if she's not bred.

Taking blood from sheep is pretty easy. It helps that I sheared her recently, so she's not too wooly. If she did have long wool, I'd just take clippers and shear a 4" X 6" patch on her neck so I could see the vein.

Finding the jugular vein is pretty easy. It's almost in the middle of the neck (left to right). I'm right handed, so I like to work on the animal's left side so I can use my "good" hand to take the blood. Just use your thumb (my left thumb, in this case) and push where you suspect the vein is. If you found the vein, you'll see the vein stand out as the blood pools.

Once I found the vein with my thumb, I used my right hand to clear some wool out of the way. I also tapped the vein a few times to make sure I knew right where it was.

Leaving my left thumb in place, I inserted the needle into the vein with my right hand and drew 3 cc's of blood. Once I had all the blood I needed, I let go of the vein with my left thumb (so it would stop pooling) and then used my left finger to place over the insertion hole when I withdrew the needle.

I only needed to send 2 cc of blood for the test, but I sent 3 just in case.

They require the blood to be shipped in a red top vacutainer tube, so I bought these from my vet (only $1.50 for 5).

Just insert the needle into the tube and the blood will be sucked right in thanks to the vacumn seal on the tube.

I labelled the tube according to Bio Tracking's instructions. The number one because there's only 1 sample, and Darla's eartag number.

They do testing on Wednesdays, so hopefully I'll have results by next weekend! I spoke with a breeder in my area who has nice Suffolk rams, and he's offered to bring a ram to our place in case she's not bred. I was really hoping for purebred Southdown lambs, but I might have to settle for crossbred lambs. Hey, crossbred is better than no lambs!

I'll let you know what the results are!


Becky said...

Katie you're so cool. I'm amazed with how much you know and how much you can do. :)
Poor Darla was so matted that it's probably no wonder that she's probably not bred. Hopefully she'll be smitten with the Suffolk ram :)

Deb said...

You are something else my Katie girl! Now I know how to draw blood and once I pick myself off the floor from passing out, I might try it on Fern...... he he NOT. That awesome and how great you can do so much by yourself. Farmer Kate! Love you, Momma

Jen's Farmily said...

I swear, technology just amazes me!! You'll have to let us know if Darla is in heat or not. I love little lamb pictures! ;)

Terri and Randy Carlson said...

Very nice, informative post! I've never had to take blood from my sheep, but am always willing to try. Learning from other shepherds is the best way to go, in my opinion. Good luck with your ewe!

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