by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy
Rectal prolapse is a frequent problem in many feedlot lambs. Many factors are thought to be associated with this condition including (1) coughing from respiratory infection or dust, (2) hereditary weakness, (3) docking tails too short, (4) Ralgro (zeranol) growth implants, (5) fat deposition in pelvic canal along with overfeeding of grain, and protein concentrates, (6) straining from other disease conditions such as coccidiosis or urinary calculi.
Producers should consider slaughter in lambs that are near market weight. If treatment is selected, good results have been achieved by early detection and injecting a counter irritant in the tissue around the rectum. The counter irritant stimulates scar tissue and eventually will produce adhesions which firmly attach the rectum within the pelvic cavity.
The procedure is simple and can be done rapidly. If prolapsed, rectal tissue should be washed and gently replaced. The producer should insert one or two fingers into the rectum to hold the rectum in place and serve as a guide for the injection. The counter irritant Pipestone Veterinary Services recommends is Lugol’s Solution. Use a maximum of four ml and a two inch 18 gauge needle inserted full length, one ml per site. The needle should stay parallel to the rectum and should not penetrate the rectal wall. The Lugol’s solution is continuously injected as the needle is slowly withdrawn. We recommend injecting ewe lambs at the 12, three, nine o’clock positions and male lambs at 12, three, six, nine o’clock positions. Injecting ewe lambs at six o’clock can form adhesions between the rectum and the reproductive tract.
If the rectum is prolapsed out of the anus and does not return when the animal moves about the pen, a purse string should be added. The use of 3/8 inch umbilical tape is used to place the purse string. Remove the suture when indicated. Best results are achieved when the injections are made early on, before the rectum remains out for any period of time. Make the injections when you first notice the rectum mucosa showing when the lamb coughs or strains. If coughing is a problem, preventing pneumonia and treating the lamb is part of the treatment.