Weak lamb with stiff legs

Weak lamb with stiff legs

by David
(Perth Western Australia)

We have a 6 day old corps lamb who is feeding but having problems with standing up.

She has been getting progressively stiffer In the legs and is now having trouble standing.

We are feeding her 6 feeds per day 200ml a day.
Any suggestions? Much appreciated.

David @ Bev


Hi David and Bev,

There are several reasons for lambs getting stiff legs. When running through them here, only you will be able to see which of the symptoms best fit your lamb and therefore what treatment needs to be administered.

You didn't say whether the lamb has scours, which may have pinned the problem down a lot quicker if it has.

Having said that scours is not the only cause of stiff legs in lambs but so is constipation! If you think your lamb is constipated look for straining signs. To remedy this give her a couple of teaspoons of mineral oil and she should be right within a day or so.

A more serious cause of leg stiffness in lambs is enterotoxemia, accompanied by scours and possible convulsions.

To treat give her for enterotoxemia you can give her both allopathic medicine in the form of clostridium perfringens antitoxin - 10cc for a small lamb of less than 20 lbs. is all you need to see a remarkable recovery if this is the case, and if you managed to catch it in time - or treating the problem more naturally by giving her high doses of Vitamin C.

This is also very good in sorting out scours which should be started off by giving lambs a 1/4 pint of warm cooking oil. Then administer 10 g of Vitamin C, with 1 g of Vitamin B12 and 2 ml VAM in the same syringe, by injection. Then two teaspoons (10 g) of ascorbic acid powder orally, followed by a large teaspoon of each of the following:

dolomite, slippery elm powder and crushed garlic tablets. Repeat all except the oil, B12 and VAM at two hour intervals. Over the next 3 days continue with the Vitamin C injections, although there should be a noticeable improvement by the following day.

This last piece of advice comes from the well-known Pat Coleby.

If the stiffness gets worse and the lamb becomes paralyzed, ending up where it starts dragging its hindquarters, it may be tetanus and she will need a tetanus antitoxin shot to bring relief.

Finally, stiffness in the legs can be caused by white-muscle disease and can be corrected by injectable supplements of selenium and vitamin E.

As the symptoms of the above are very close, as mentioned earlier, only you will be able to judge what is wrong and what you should do to rectify the issue.

Please let us know how you get on.

Countryfarm Lifestyles

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Feb 17, 2013
Lamb stiff in one leg
by: Odum family farm

My lamb was one of twins - their mother did not produced milk - we gave them both colostrum within 12 hours of birth. One one didn't make it it looked and seemed fine until the first evening, she passed in the morning.

Weirdly enough, the small frail one, made it and is now 7 days old. My question is - she has developed a stiff right rear leg. She limps all the time. Is it too much walking around, too much sleeping? Or another problem. Should I be concerned.

She drinks lamb milk replacer great and is otherwise fine.


As you can see from my answer to David who had the same issue with his lamb, there can be a number of reasons why your lamb has a stiff leg from just pulling a muscle when lambs bounce around as they are prone to do, or something more serious like tetanus.

If your lamb is still eating, and looks fine, just monitor the situation and see how it progresses.

At this stage, I'm really sorry, but I can't give you any more advice for your lamb, other than what has already been said.

Let us know how you get on.

Countryfarm Lifestyles

Dec 22, 2012
by: David

Thank you for your advice.

The Dorper lamb is now 7 days old and does not have scours.

We took her to our local vet and she was given a glucose, vitamin and antibiotic injection. Her vital signs were OK.

We now have 4 lots of antibiotic injections to give her, two to go. She is still unable to support herself and is very shaky. We are keeping her warm and clean. She is feeding well on 200 mls liquid which contains 34 grams milk substitute. If she keeps feeding after the next two injections and is still unable to support herself we may have to make a tough decision.

Best wishes,

PS Our other Dorper lamb is going really well and is now three weeks old and very bright. Our sick one just didn't feed well early on in its life hence the infection.

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