Bandy legged lambs
Started by crazysheep
Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
Friday 14 March 2008 at 18:12
I have a couple of ewes who have had lambs with bowed/bent front legs. They are by different rams, so i don’t think it’s genetic. I spray the navels with terramycin so would be surprised if it’s joint ill. With one of the ewes, she has a twin one of which is perfect, and the other is affected. They seem to be like it at birth, so would be interested to know if anyone knows what or why and how to treat.0#1011553
Monday 17 March 2008 at 22:38
Crazysheep being as no one has replied, I will relate the experiences we have had with bandy legged sheep. Over the last 30 years we have had about 5 born with front legs severely bowed out at the knee joints, (out of over 60,000 births in that time). 2 of these were born in the same mob at lambing time so could have been by the same tup. 1 was born to a ewe whose legs were very slightly bowed. This makes me think it may be genetic. I think it is better to humanely destroy them than have them hobbling around for 6 months and then being unable to sell them. By the way today we had a lamb born with an extra set of knee joints.0
Tuesday 18 March 2008 at 18:11
One of the sets of twins affected has come right. I have been told it could be contracted tendons which sort themselves out in 7 days or so.
Tuesday 18 March 2008 at 22:16
Crazysheep – apologies for delayed response. I’m glad your lambs seem to be coming right. Over the years we have had a number where one of the joints doesn’t seem to be able to straighten properly – usually a knee. This year there have been three, two in one set of triplets and one in another. All now seem to be getting along without any trouble and I would be hard pushed to pick out the affected lambs after a couple of weeks.
Wednesday 19 March 2008 at 15:31
contracted tendons give a very characteristic appearance to the lamb, and most often they sort themselves out within a couple of weeks, and within a month or two you can’t tell the affected sheep from any others. If it’s bad enough that the lamb can’t walk around, I’m told it can be worth splinting the legs straight for a while, though I’ve never done it myself. There are several plausible theories about why it happens, but none has seemed conclusive to me. There is no strong reason to avoid such lambs when deciding “keepers” as breeding stock.
Wednesday 19 March 2008 at 21:21
Hi, thanks for your replies, any sughgestions are most welcome! I’ve got a photo of the lamb with her straight legged twin sister. She is able to walk with a hobble!
I’m pleased to hear about being able to consider her as future breeding stock, as she is a good lamb apart from that one leg!
Wednesday 19 March 2008 at 22:05
Sorry, crazysheep when you started the thread I was imagining something a lot worse, the lambs I mentioned were very severely affected with the legs bent out at about 80 degrees and never came right. The only thing I would say is if your lambs dont recover completely, I would be vey reluctant to breed from them, of course if they recover completely no problem.
Thursday 20 March 2008 at 12:28
I agree with FarmerBill on this one: that lamb doesn’t look too bad at all, and you’ll be unlucky if it doesn’t sort itself out completely in a few weeks. (Famous last words……). We’ve had a couple looking worse than that at the same age, who have got over it completely, and gone on to produce good, problem free, lambs in due course.
Thursday 17 June 2010 at 06:42
Well this is only 2 years later, so I hope you see this in case it has continued in subsequent lambings.
There is a pretty high chance that this is a nutritional problem caused by lack of calcium. I see it in my sheep for last 14 years. I’m a vet and I’ve consulted vets and pathologists and no one else seems to have really seen it at this age (i.e. newborn) and I can’t find any vet literature on it.Though a handful of people have related same situation.
In my sheep it occurs only when they are being fed corn and/or grazing oats. And only occurs in a few % of ewes. It is not genetic (though of course certain bloodlines could well be more predisposed if they have higher growth rates and variations in calcium mobilisation). These feeds both have low levels of calcium compared to phosphorus, as do other cereal grains or forage.
Where I live we have plenty of sunlight and so Vit D not an issue. But in our colder southern areas (I’m in Australia , so southern hemisphere, so south equals colder) vit D could be implicated, as when dark, cloudy short daylengths, sheep have less vit D, and Vit D is needed for Ca absorption. This could also be a problem where sheep are shedded.
Of course my problem has come about because I either didn’t add limestone in with their supplement, or they didn’t eat it, but I’ve got better at it now, so eliminating problem – see solutions below.
There is plenty literature showing a condition called bent leg, from same cause, but is always in older growing lambs.
I firmly believe that in the newborns, it is simply a transferred deficiency from the ewe. She doesn’t show any problem as her bones are mature (though her bones are probably more brittle and susceptible to breakage) and she mobilises calcium out of them, but is still not getting enough. Some ewes manage on the deficient diet, but others don’t have enough reserves or are less able to mobilise it back out of the bones and thus the foetus suffers – it develops rickets in the last fast growth stage of pregnancy. Then once they are born, the udder is obviously more efficient at concentrating calcium from the blood, than is the foetus in the uterus. So the lamb has a higher Ca milk (though could still be lower in Ca than a non-deficient ewe). This diet enables the rapidly growing lamb to recover and pack Ca into those reshaping growing bones.
I have had ones far worse than your pic and almost every one recovers in 3 days to 3 weeks. I have had only a couple not recover and my guess is that the ewe was just too deficient and milk not good enough (especially with twins). Had I hand fed the lambs I bet they would have recovered. The severely affected ones start out with their knee at right angles and the top of leg at 90 degrees to body and out forward mostly and walk like a crab. Sometimes the feet are knuckled over.
This is definitely not contracted tendons. Or akabane. Or spider syndrome.
Last year we had to radically change our feeding due to severe drought. My yearling sheep ate a diet of almost total corn and grazing oats. Trouble is I stopped the Calcium when I stopped the corn, (As I had never had problems with older sheep on oats) and 2 months on we had the classic bent leg in these fast growing sheep. Back on the limestone, which they wolfed down, even without salt, they improved dramatically after 3 months, though some did not straighten completely. Unfortunately it’s taken me some years to understand that they will eat what looks like unpalatable dry white powder when they need it. For a while I had too much salt in it (at about 50%, which also would have restricted their intake). But also don’t be fooled into thinking they can be trusted to eat all minerals free choice with no problem. Some really are very unpalatable despite them needing them, and others are highly toxic (e.g. copper) and too risky.
If you are feeding cereal grains wheat, oats, barley etc, or corn. Provide a Calcium supplement too. Simply purchase salt from your rural supply store (I prefer “flossy fine” – this is just finely crushed – compared to coarse rock salt). Also purchase finely ground limestone (Calcium carbonate = chalk). In a container add limestone and up then up to 10% salt. Let the sheep or goats eat it free choice. (if you only had a handful of sheep you could buy salt from the supermarket and blackboard chalk and crush it up. – still lots cheaper than buying proprietary Ca supplements. Or of course you could do a trip to Dover – the cliffs are just chalk.)
(Note beans and pea type grains do not have this problem)
If grazing on oats: same as above.
If grazing on “winter wheats” same as above but also need to add magnesium – I don’t know what forms you have over there, you’d need to ask your supplier. In Oz we use equal amounts limestone to “causmag” – some sort of magenesium formulation.
If darkness and lack of sunlight is also a problem, also give 6 monthly Vit D injections (Alone or maybe in a Vit A, D and E combo).
Affected lambs should receive calcium rich milk. As such, the natural mother should be considered suspect at providing this and additional calcium is probably warranted. However, the milk is probably OK if the ewe’s diet is supplemented straightaway and she maintains high blood calcium levels, as milk is made in real time based on what’s circulating in the blood.
Thursday 17 June 2010 at 22:24
As you have brought this subject to the fore again, I thought I would update you all.
kept both of the lambs, and they both had a lamb each this march. The
ewe lamb with the bent leg did improve, and as she grew the leg
straightened, but the foot remained at a bit of a skew. I have to trim
it regularly to keep her sound, but it works!
Tuesday 8 April 2014 at 22:18
I am new to the group and found you by stumbling across this thread. I was searching for info on a lamb born this morning who has the opposite problem–she is very knock kneed, where her knees bend inward toward each other and her feet splay outwardly. She’s walking fine and doesn’t seem to be an issue in that regard, but is this a common thing and is it temporary? I’ve had goats with tendon issues that disappear in a few days, but it’s usually the hind legs.
Speaking of goats, in reading this thread, we brought home a buckling who was severely bowed, getting worse as he grew. The vet first thought genetic, and we’d have to put him down as he soon would not be able to support his own weight. But, we didn’t want to not try, so long story short, it turned out to be Vit. deficiency, mostly Vit. D, for a whole host of reasons. Our vet said the treatment would arrest the progression, and maybe straighten them some, but unless we did splints or some other measures, he would probably always be bowed.
We tried the splints, and they were an awful mess. Total failure, didn’t work, and he was miserable. In the end, we discovered a way to help straighten his feet while the vitamin injections were working that worked like a charm. We made “orthopedic slippers” for his hooves, or, lifts really, out of a modeling compound (we tried a different ones, including horse hoof putty). Molded it right to the bottom of his hoof on the side where we needed to prop it up to level his hoof. When it dried, super glued it in place. He would lose them, but his feet were changing and improving every couple of days anyway. It took patience, but, in the end, his legs and feet are like it never happened! He was soooo much happier, too. Today, he is the champion herd sire he was always meant to be!
You can read about our whole experience, with photos, on our About Us page, scroll down a little to the Tale of a Miracle Buckling:
Just thought I’d share! Meanwhile, if anyone knows if the opposite problem (knock-kneed) is temporary, or an actual problem, please let me know! THANKS!
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