This page is just to highlight some of the most common problems and illnesses affecting sheep and has tips on how to spot a sick sheep and things you can do to help.
This advice is by no means intended to be used instead of the advice of a professional Vet and is mostly based upon our own personal knowledge gained over 10 years of keeping sheep. Should you have a very sick sheep on your hands we recommend to contact your local vet asap! Sick sheep can go down hill rapidly without proper treatment.
Problems and Illness
On the left is a list of common problems and illnesses you may encounter in sheep. We are only highlighting some of the more commonly seen problems here in the UK, of course there are much more unusual and rare conditions that could be encountered. Which is why whenever in doubt and for help with treatment, it is always best to consult your vet is you notice one of your sheep is unwell.
Good animal health and well being contributes greatly against illness!
Healthy animals, kept in good conditions, in good body condition will have a good immune system and are much less likely to fall ill.
Animals most at risk of illness are young lambs and sheep in their first year, pregnant ewes and sheep in poor condition.
Please read our Sheep Care page for advice on keeping your flock healthy.
If you know your sheep well and you visit and feed them daily you should notice if one of your sheep is unwell pretty quickly. Sheep are prey animals so have a habit of hiding any illness or problem until it gets to the stage they can no longer, so if a sheep appears a bit off colour its safe to assume it may actually be a lot worse than it appears, though this isn’t always the case. The better you know your sheep the easier it will be for you to spot any subtle changes in their behavior or personalities that could point to problems.
- Not his / her normal self
- Isolation from the rest of the flock
- Slow moving
- Reluctance to join in at feeding time
- Depressed appearance
- Reluctance or unable to stand
- Failure to flee when approached
- Not eating
- Head drooped in water bucket
- Loss of coordination / circling / falling over
- Rapid breathing / coughing
If one of your sheep if unwell he/she may display just one of the above symptoms or may be displaying some unusual behavior not listed above. It may be a subtle sign you notice, it may not be a serious condition or you may of caught it early. Some of the behavior listed above can point to very serious life threatening emergencies, if you are ever in doubt call your vet straight away and move your sick sheep inside to a dry barn/shelter as soon as possible. If one of your sheep is down and doesn’t move/get up when approached and encouraged its safe to assume you have a very sick animal on your hands and you need to act quickly.
Generally if you are just keeping 2 or 3 sheep as pets you are very unlikely to encounter any problems, especially if they are well looked after. But every now and again you may get unlucky. We have over 30 sheep here at the moment, and the past few years we have encountered virtually no problems except the occasional lameness issue.
If there is a problem or illness not listed here that you would like us to highlight feel free to contact us and we will add it to the list.
If you have a sick or lame sheep and would like some advice we are always happy to help, don’t hesitate to contact us.