Coffee's death spooked me. One of the most experienced Icelandic sheep farmers on our Yahoo Group thought Coffee's symptoms sounded like copper deficiency, so I mail ordered a concentrated trace mineral blend that this person herself uses. It takes only a tiny amount -- 1/8 of a gram per sheep daily. Not being familiar with weighing out grams and drams, I didn't notice that my gram scale was set to weigh in ounces, so Matilda and Marsha got almost 30 times the recommended
dose of Copper over the last 3 days.
Copper, in excess, can kill. It gets stored in the liver until the sheep's liver can no longer store it. Then a large amount of
copper gets dumped into the animal's blood stream, and begins to disrupt the red blood cells.
Generally, the farmer isn't aware that the animals have been getting excess copper, so the first symptom of a copper-poisoned sheep is usually a dead sheep. If you can catch it in time, you notice jaundiced whites of the eyes and yellowing of the gums, and reddish urine. Then, if you are lucky enough, and drench the animal with large doses of Vitamin C plus dolomitic lime, maybe you can save its life.
Well, when Matilda peed ("C'mon honey, piddle for me? Just a little? Goood giiirl!!!") her urine did look orang-y / coppery. So I drenched both of them with Vitamin C . Also offered them dolomitic lime mixed with a bit of soybean meal, which they love, plus liver and kidney regenerating herbs like milk thistle, burdock and dandelion. They love seeds, and ate these up!
I think the crisis is past now -- Matilda's urine is yellow; she has no signs of jaundice, and Marsha never showed any symptoms, but I went through the same hell that I lived through Coffee's illness and eath all over again: Every morning, not knowing if I would find dead sheep in the barn,
and walking down to the barn step by step anyway. Holding myself clenched tight while opening the gate and going in. Then almost not believing everything was all right when I saw them looking at me with their "where's the hay?" look.
I thank God this crisis passed without harm.