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Looking At Sheep

Posted 6/16/2014 6:59pm by Eugene Wyatt.

This evening, the ewes had no visible predators—no coyotes near—they were calm, they were eating and they didn't issue any directives to me. For example, they will tell you that they don't want canines lurking in the brush just outside the fence—hungrily eyeing them—and be very "baa" blunt about it. They look in the direction of the threat, then they look in your eyes for the briefest moment and they look at the threat again, then they go back to grazing. You know.  

132 Yellow walked over to me; I extended a hand and touched her on the head. She's a sweetheart. 

Sheep have invisible predators too. Coccidia are single-celled organisms that infect the intestine. The infection causes a watery diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, but before that, it is dark.  Coccidia usually infect lambs as sheep become immune as they get older; untreated, Coccidia are life-threatening. Coccidia are not visible to the naked eye but they are detectable with a 40 power microscope in the fecal examinations that I routinely perform.

The sporulated oocyst breaks open and releases eight sporozoites. Each of these sporozoites finds an intestinal cell and begins to reproduce inside it. Ultimately, the cell is so full of what are called merozoites at this stage that the cells bursts, releasing merozoites that seek out their own intestinal cells so the process begins again. It is important to note how thousands of intestinal cells can become infected and destroyed as a result of  a single oocyst.  

A fecal examination floats the Cocci-oocysts in a saturated sugar solution (which has a greater specific gravity than the oocysts) against a cover slip that is placed on a slide to be viewed under a microscope.


There is more than meets the eye when it comes to sheep predation.

From Wikipedia and from experience.