What should have been a happy occasion quickly grew traumatic: Holly, a sheep pregnant with twins, lost her first lamb shortly after giving birth. The other baby had died in utero and was never delivered.
Months passed, and Holly grew sick from toxicity. Her “owner” didn’t know about the second lamb and ascribed her illness to an earlier accident. She did her best to help, but Holly grew sicker and sicker and needed more than what she could provide.
Holly lived on a wool farm, as a prized contributor to her owner’s stock. Her children would follow in her footsteps, producing lush, quality wool for profit. But an accident on the farm changed everything: One day, while pregnant, Holly trapped her back left foot in an electric fence. She struggled to free herself for hours, in excruciating pain, until her owner heard her cries for help and released poor Holly.
Not long after this incident, Holly’s uterus prolapsed; just weeks later, she lost her lambs. While there’s no telling for sure if her accident spurred the rest, it undoubtedly put undue stress on her body—making what could have been a healthy pregnancy turn risky. Holly’s owner, for her part, had tried to treat Holly’s symptoms as they presented themselves. But she had a business to run and was not equipped to provide the individualized care that Holly needed.
Thankfully, this farmer took pity on Holly and sought outside help. But she could not afford the extensive care she would need—let alone a veterinarian for an appropriate diagnosis. She heard that euthanasia would be her sheep’s best option, but she decided to contact Farm Sanctuary in a last-ditch effort to save Holly’s life.
Once Holly was in our care, we rushed this ailing sheep to Cornell University’s Nemo Farm Animal Hospital, where veterinarians work closely with our caregiving team. There, ultrasounds revealed the second deceased lamb, much to the farmer’s surprise. Holly’s vets recommended an ovariohysterectomy—the full removal of her reproductive organs—as any attempt to induce labor could rupture her uterus and kill her. They also discovered the break and infection in her leg—with some exposed bone and gangrene due to improper treatment following her accident—and began her on antibiotics immediately.
Back home at Farm Sanctuary, our caregivers worked hard to keep her wound clean and help her leg heal. We gave her daily pain medication and antibiotics and changed her wrap, flushed her wound, and applied topical antibiotics every other day. Additional padding helped Holly put weight on her foot, allowing her to stand comfortably despite her injury.
Unfortunately, Holly continued to have mobility issues, and her vets agreed that she required amputation. Thankfully, they only needed to remove the infected portion of her leg—she still has her hock and a few inches below. Once she makes a full recovery, in about four to six weeks, we will fit her for a prosthetic and get her back on her feet for good.
Holly survived because people saw her as an individual, and not just one of the flock. At Farm Sanctuary, she has a happy life ahead of her—and as her vets say she is around three years old, she still has so much new life to live. She will always have special healthcare needs, but we promise to provide whatever she needs to thrive. To us, Holly is not just a source of wool or a temporary companion…she is someone not something.