A Shepherd’s Regret

I made the decision to castrate our rams on September 9 rather than butcher and eat them.  This is because they have nice wool, good personalities, and their meat will not be that good, especially the older ram Bambam.  The vet banded Bambam saying that this would be the right method.  I was worried about the flies but thought that the fly season was ending and with bands there wouldn’t be an open wound.  We went on vacation last week, and our farm sitter noted that one ram was less active, but she could not catch him.  We got home and Tom walked right up to him because he was lethargic and found that he had a bad case of fly strike.  The last time we had to deal with this was over 10 years ago with Spike.  Tom did the best he could by himself, and when I got home yesterday we kept working to kill and pluck the maggots from his wound and the surrounding skin.  I felt so bad for him because he was obviously ill and this was quite painful for him.  I deeply regretted my decision to castrate him and put him through all the suffering for that and then this.  Here he is after our treatment.


He did stand up, peed and then ate hay so I was encouraged.  Today he was running around and hard to catch.  There were no live maggots on him, but he still has an open wound.  So he is stuck alone in a pen so we can daily treat and monitor him.  Still feel awful about my decision but have hope that at least he will survive.

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10 Responses to A Shepherd’s Regret

  1. Oh Donna, you were trying to do the best thing to give him a long and peaceful life; I’m so sorry he ended up with fly strike. There just doesn’t seem a fool-proof way to castrate mature rams; I’ve heard of others dying while under general anesthesia for surgical castration.

  2. eliz martin says:

    Please don’t beat yourself up about this…I lost a llama this spring to flystrike, i didn’t see it in time…At least You and Tom did….and he is recovering. There are no guarantees in life…..eliz

  3. Denise says:

    Poor Bambam. Hope that he comes through it alright. Sending good thoughts your way.

  4. Becky Utecht says:

    So sorry, what a beautiful boy he is! I’m sure he’ll pull through it with your excellent care. I lost one I had surgically castrated years ago, very sad. Now I use a Burdizzo on the older rams. I couldn’t find a vet to do it, but my shearer does it at minimal cost. I also bought a smaller version from Premier One Supplies for around $100 so I don’t have to band my ram lambs anymore either. They don’t seem to feel much if any pain when using that method. Best wishes to you and Bambam!

  5. Mindy L says:

    So is the life with animals, well really life in general. you made the best decision you could with the information available & what you felt was right. I’m glad you caught the fly strike & he will surely recover & have a great life! Good Shepherding!!!!

    These are the things I tell myself when I’m second guessing my farm choices. I do take a bit of teasing for over-thinking my decisions, but good natured as they know I’m just concerned. Chin up & know you are doing well!!!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Mindy. I wish we had seen the fly strike sooner to minimize his suffering. The guilt is the hardest part of being a shepherd. I cannot seem to get resistant to it.

  6. Oh, poor guy. Unfortunately I hear this does happen. Hope he makes a quick recovery. Do antibiotics help a situation like this?

    • Donna says:

      The maggots actually help prevent infection but now that they are hopefully gone we have to monitor for that. So we are using antibiotic spray but have not started injected antibiotics yet. I am hoping he will not need them.

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