The miracle of health - Libby's story....
Libby (pictured at left as a yearling) is a lovely black/grey ewe that we
purchased bred in the late winter of 2002. She delivered twin ram lambs
unassisted, although I pulled the smaller, weaker lamb off and sent him
to a friend as a bottle lamb, to insure that Libby would have enough
milk for her larger, healthier ram lamb. She is a good, attentive and
protective dam. However, as the heat & humidity of summer 2002
took hold in early June and continued unrelentless, Libby developed
white muscle disease, due to a sudden lack of selenium in her system. I
suspect the lush pastures here that contributed to her large growth
spurt (in addition to lambing and lactating), depleted her more quickly
of the selenium she needed to keep up with her own rate of growth. As
soon as I noticed her stiff gait, I treated her with a Bo-SE (selenium &
vitamin E) shots, but, unfortunately, the horrid heat we had took a toll
on this pretty ewe, the daughter of Iceland ram Hunn. As summer wore
on, Libby got weaker and weaker. In spite of regular deworming,
vitamins, iron and plenty of access to minerals/kelp (mixed with soy
for extra protein) and regular shots of Bo-SE, by August she had
It was with great distress that I watched this ewe go quickly down hill. Within a week of my noticing her anemia (bottle jaw) and in
spite of valiant efforts at deworming and injections, she got to the point where she couldn't walk. She wasn't eating unless I put a flake
of fresh alfalfa hay in front of her, but then she'd only nibble at it. She refused grain (and corn had always been her favorite treat). When
she did stand, she would eat dirt (obvious sign she was lacking in minerals and nutrition) and it got so bad that I hated to see her suffer
and even contemplated having Daryl put her down to put her out of her misery. I couldn't imagine having to watch her starve to death.
The tissues in her mouth were white and her tongue and vulva were grey. She had basically no red blood cells at this point.
Well, then a miracle happened. Having found a rare moment to clean off my desk, I found an article I had xeroxed from a 1987 Black
Sheep Newsletter (Issue 53, pages 13-14). It was a story about farmers in New Zealand who use cider vinegar for livestock health.
Something made me pick it up and reread the article. Well, the word ANEMIA jumped out at me and when I read that cider vinegar is
used to treat anemia, I couldn't believe I'd found the article at just this crucial moment. I immediately drenched Libby with 10 cc. of cider
vinegar (mixed 1:1 with water). I figured there was nothing to lose because every morning for a week I had expected to go out and find
The very next morning when I went out to do chores, I heard a baaiing that I had not heard in weeks: I turned and looked and Libby
came RUNNING towards me, mouth open and tongue PINK!! I could not believe my eyes. She ran out to the pasture with the rest of
the sheep, which she had not done in two months (she would slowly make her way out, but due to her sore muscles, spent most of her
time laying down and grazing the grass immediately around her. I kept an eye on her that whole day, in amazement, as she spent her
first full day grazing since early June (this was now the end of August). The photo here is Libby one week after her miraculous
recovery. Her stiff legs were gone, even though the temperatures that week had soared back into the 80s and 90s. She continued to graze
all day, followed me around again as I watered the sheep, begging me for corn, and was once again a joy to have in the flock (rather than
Cider vinegar can be used as a monthly drench to improve overall health and immunity of livestock, or added weekly to drinking water.
We are now instigating the use of cider vinegar as a regular addition to our flock health management plan.
UPDATE: Libby had quads the spring of 2004! (one was stillborn, but the other were big and healthy and she raised them unassisted. As
of 2008 Libby is still going strong, delivering lovely lambs that grow out fast and big).