Goose stepping sheep - Astragalus toxicity?

Asked January 17, 2018, 7:02 PM EST

I have a shetland sheep that I have had for almost 2 years. She came to me pregnant and had a normal lamb spring of 2016. She is about 7 years old and started goose stepping about a year ago. She is generally losing condition and strength. My large animal veterinarian has never seen goose stepping in sheep and thinks it must be a brain injury, or a brain tumor of sorts. I have recently run across an article talking about selenium toxicity in Astragalus. I live 10 miles south of Portland. Is this a plant that could be in my pastures and could have caused this problem with my ewe? This is the only sheep out of a herd of 9 affected, and none of my horses have been affected, as far as I know. Thank you for your time and expertise.

Clackamas County Oregon sheep veterinary

1 Response

It is very unlikely that consumption of Astralagus sp is teh cause of the neurological gait abnormality in your sheep. Astragagus is a milk vetch that grows in selenium rich soils. W3estern Oregon is selenium deficient so the plant does not thrive here. It seems to me that a spinal cord lesion is more likely. A spinal tap and CT scan would be diagnostic.