Sheep rescued, drought blamed

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Lack of rain causes uptick of farm animals getting stuck in mud


The implications of Anderson County’s ongoing drought extend well beyond dead lawns and leaves falling prematurely from trees.

It also is affecting farm animals, particularly those that rely on farm ponds as their sole source of water.
On Tuesday, firefighters were called to rescue a sheep that became stuck in the mud alongside a pond off Anderson City Road.
The sheep was apparently stuck for at least a couple of days, and had been attacked by coyotes, according to Anderson County Fire Chief Mike Barnes.
“The coyotes had chewed on its rear end,” Barnes said.
Barnes and animal control officer Jason Chesser teamed up to remove the sheep from the mud. Chesser took the animal to the county’s animal control shelter and a local veterinarian provided medical care.
As of Wednesday, the large, brown sheep with a lengthy shag of wool remained housed at the animal shelter, large wounds still apparent on its hindquarters.
Barnes said had the animal been removed and left, “the coyotes would have gotten right back on it.”
Barnes said Chesser was still trying to locate the sheep’s owner, and that another sheep was found dead in a nearby field.
Barnes said Anderson County is in a Level 2 drought, and that such dry conditions generally result in similar situations for farm animals.
“We’ve had to rescue six or seven animals since the summer,” Barnes said.
“Because of the drought, the water in the ponds recedes, leaving gooey mud around the banks.
“The animals try to get to the water, and end up getting caught in the mud.”
Barnes said those with farm animals need to take precautions from keeping them from getting stuck.
“It’s something a lot of folks don’t think about, particularly those who haven’t always lived on a farm.
“From the animal owner’s perspective, a responsible farm owner needs to monitor these types of things and determine if the pond remains a safe water source. If not, it needs to be fenced off and water tanks brought in.”
A Level 2 drought is defined by the state’s Division of Water as a condition that can include an increased number and intensity of wildfires, damage to agriculture and water supply shortages.
Anderson County is one of 50 counties statewide that remains under a ban for outdoor burning.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.