What should I have in my first-aid kit for sheep?
A well-stocked first-aid kit can provide everything you need to fix most problems sheep can get themselves into. Plus, a little bit more. If you are new to sheep, this first-aid kit requires some learning and who else is more qualified than your veterinarian! Be sure to acquaint yourself with him or her and develop an essential relationship.
Below, Dave Scott, NCAT livestock specialist and co-owner of Montana Highland Sheep in Whitehall, Montana, shares the contents of his sheep first-aid kit.
Thermometer. Normal ewe temp is 102.5.
Stethoscope. Pneumonia is the most common sheep disease in sheep and a stethoscope can help you diagnose it. Learn how to use one by asking your vet to come out the first couple of times. He/she had to pay to learn; you should too. Besides, you must develop a excellent relationship with your vet, especially these days. I put a red dot on mine so I can put it on right side up with just one glance. Get the kind with soft ear lobes. You can hear things better.
Balling gun, sheep size
Chlorihexidene soap for washing wounds
5/8 inch by 18 ga or 16 ga disposable needles. I prefer 16 ga. Short, because almost all antibiotic injections are given subcutaneously.
Nitro-furazone salve for wounds. The yellow stuff!
Honey for wounds, dog/coyote bites. In many cases, honey is better than nitrofurazone. It has natural healing and antiseptic qualities. Great stuff!
Peppermint oil. For edematous udders, mastitis, any inflammation.
Vet wrap. For bandaging wounds, setting broken legs. All first-aid kits should have at least two rolls of this stuff. You never want to run out.
One-inch tape to secure the vet wrap on the last wind
Sheep paint spray to identify tomorrow who you treated today. (You may be such a good doc, you won’t be able to tell!)
Nice to Have
Leg splints for both front and rear legs of various sizes. The rear one has the ring on it. It is homemade out of 12 ga wire and tape and supports the whole leg. Splints keep the downward pressure off of the leg, so position the hooves up in the splint.
Suture staple gun for sewing up wounds, and accompanying staple remover for nine days later. Well worth it; much faster than needle and suture.
Gambrel restrainer (yellow device). Nice to have when you are all by yourself.
Duct tape. When all else fails.
Fly strike spray. When there are hot conditions, open wounds, or dagged britches, maggots will creep up and overcome a ewe in no time. This can happen in extreme cases to hair sheep, too.
More vet wrap
Check out the new Small Ruminants: All About Health podcast, in which NCAT’s and Linda Coffey discuss ruminant health: how to encourage health, prevent illness, work with a veterinarian, and manage so that your flock or herd is mostly trouble-free.
You’ll find many more useful resources in the Sheep and Goats section of the ATTRA website.