Just over two weeks ago our sweet Hettie gave birth to twin lambs, Finn and Tilly, and the day after she got terribly sick. She stopped nursing, she stopped eating and drinking, and she couldn't stand or walk on her own. After speaking to our vet we thought Hettie was just exhausted after giving birth to twins. As the day went on she started getting worse, and we realized something else had to be going on. After scouring the internet, referring to our Story's "Raising Sheep" book, and lots of prayer we thought she might have Milk Fever, which is technically exhaustion, but the ewe specifically needs calcium in addition to nutrients and electrolytes, and a lot of it quickly.
Our local Tractor Supply had a great calcium and nutrient supplement drink we force fed her using a drench gun. We also force fed her electrolytes. After two days, Hettie started feeling better, and back to grazing a week later. While she was getting better we bottle fed the lambs so Hettie could use what little energy she had to get well, not to mention that while she was down she stopped producing as much milk. We didn't want to break the bond Hettie had with her lambs, so we watched closely to only feed the lambs when Hettie didn't feed them, and as Hettie began to feed them more and more we would back off our interference.
This whole experience was incredibly stressful and emotional as our animals mean a lot to us, and we couldn't bare the thought of loosing either a lamb or Hettie. It took Hettie about 7 days to get back to 100%, but once she felt better she was back to mothering and her bellwether duties. The other sheep depend on Hettie and missed her while she was away from the flock.