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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

Dressed Sheep

Dressed Sheep.

1. Precautions after Dressing.—Shepherding and Inspection.—While under treatment for scab, sheep should be in the charge of a particularly careful and trustworthy shepherd, but especially so after their course of dressing is completed, and he should receive strict injunctions to watch for and report the least sign of activity in the disease. The owner or superintendent should make a point of seeing the sheep every other day, and he should not only examine every sheep shewing any symptoms of the disease, but he should spend an hour now and then with the shepherd, watching the movements of the sheep as they feed, and he should be increasingly watchful when the weather is favourable to the development of the disease. If ordinary care and watchfulness be displayed by the owner and shepherd, the very first symptom of a re-outbreak will be detected, and another dressing would then make the euro a certainty.

Mode of Examination.—In examining a flock of sheep which have undergone a course of dressing for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not they are cured, every sheep shewing any symptom of the disease should be handled; and after the bare portion of any suspected spot (such as the mark of an old patch of scab) has been carefully examined, the scurf and loose wool should be well cleared away from its outer edges, and the portions of the skin thus exposed should be subjected to the strictest scrutiny, for it is at the edges of the patch that any acari which have escaped destruction by the dressing, are most likely to be found. After that, the fleece should be opened for four or five inches, at right angles to and all round the patch—in the manner already directed—and the skin and roots of the wool along the lines thus exposed should be carefully examined both with the naked eye and the scab glass.

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Keeping Infected Flocks Apart.—The duty next in importance to careful shepherding and regular inspection of sheep which have been dressed, is to see that the infected flocks are neither allowed to come in contact directly or indirectly with clean sheep, nor even with one another. It might sometimes do no harm for two infected flocks to come in contact, but at other times it would, for the one might be perfectly cured and the other not; and thus through the want of a little care, both flocks would again be infected. The infected flocks should be kept strictly apart until thoroughly clean, and the better to enforce this the owner should put a distinguishing brand on each flock when branding them as infected, or rather, he might put the scab brand (S) on the rumps of the sheep of one flock, on the back of another, and on the hips of a third.

Burning Yards.—Although not absolutely essential it is a very wise precaution to burn all brush yards, and the dung which may have accumulated in old yards and camps used by infected sheep; and if practicable, the run where infected sheep have been depastured should also be purged by fire. If these suggestions are not or cannot be followed, the sheep should at any rate be kept away from such places for six or eight months.

2. Successful Dressing.—Symptoms of a Cure of Wet Scab.—If the dressings have been thoroughly effective, the following symptoms will be observable on patches where the attack has been moderately severe. By the time the sheep are to be dipped a second time, and even earlier, there will be little or no rubbing, biting, or scratching, observable in the flock, and the scab will have become dry, while those portions of the skin of the scabby patch which were green when the sheep were dipped will have lost their moistness and appear of a pale dead colour. At a distance of a week from the second dipping the scab will become finer and drier, and the skin although still of an unhealthy colour, will be less harsh and boardy, and thinner and more pliable. At fifteen or twenty days the young wool will begin to shoot up, and, as it does, it perceptibly raises the scab (which has now assumed more the appearance of scurf) from the skin, and the skin will become much healthier in its colour and texture, although still deficient in both respects. At thirty days the young wool will begin to cover the patch, and the scurf will be almost completely cleared off, leaving the skin somewhat white and thick, but perfectly healthy; a slight scratch will at once bring up the proper hue. From that time it is purely a question of growth of wool.

When the attack is a slight one, and the patches small, if the first dressing has been effective, the scab will be quite dead and dry in the course of 12 or 14 days, and the patch will, in many instances, be clear of scab. In the course of a week from the second dressing the patches will be entirely free from scab and scurf, and the skin will have become soft, thin, and of a healthy pink colour, while the young wool will begin to sprout.

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Symptoms of a Cure in Dry Scab.—In the case again of a cure of a spot or patch of dry scab from which the wool had not been denuded when the sheep were dressed, changes, similar to those already described, would take place in the scab and skin, but the old wool would not come off until the young fleece, springing up after the second dressing, forced it, as it were, off the affected spots. In the course of a week or fourteen days after the second dressing, these spots would be noticeable by a rising and slightly ragged or broken appearance of the wool on them, and, by the latter period, a slight new crop of wool would be found on pulling away the raised portion of the old fleece.