Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bread is baaaaad news for sheep

RSPCA NSW is warning the public of the dangers of feeding livestock animals inappropriate food, after a spike in the number of sheep and lambs that have been seen eating bread, with at least five cases being reported in the last month.

RSPCA NSW Vet Dr Guy Weerasinghe says at worst, too much bread can prove fatal; “In severe instances there can be bloating, with the sheep kicking at its stomach. Diarrhoea and the animal becoming quiet and lying on the ground with its head to one side are signs that it’s in trouble. If not treated in time, the sheep could die within 24 hours.”

RSPCA NSW Inspector Tanya Dominguez says that the weather may have something to do with the increase in cases, “due to the dry winter and limited ground cover, we have been seeing people supplementing their sheep’s diet with bread."

Eating bread causes a build-up of lactic acid in the sheep’s  stomach and lowers the pH. This can result in dehydration and the acid damaging the stomach wall causing abscesses and inflammation. The pH level in the sheep’s blood can then become acidic, leading to fatal heart and kidney failure.

Dr Weerasinghe says the best advice is to do your research, “if the animal is sick, ensure they only eat hay or straw. Provide good quality roughage all year round and if in doubt call to your local vet.”

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