Our first lambing season was bitter sweet….mostly sweet. 🙂
A set of twins, both ewes were born to Nubbins last Wednesday and are thriving.
Viola, our second mama to birth had some very difficult problems on Wednesday afternoon. She had been stressed and fearful ever since coming to our farm in addition to having been separated from another sheep she was buddies with from where she lived before. All this added up to one stressed out ewe and we think it affected her delivery. First, she never went into a strong or consistent labor. It seemed to start and stop and had we known any better we would have tried to pull the babies much sooner. By the time we called the previous shepherd and “got a clue” it was way late. We pulled the babies. A ewe and a ram but they were both stillborn and quite large. 😦 Viola didn’t survive the whole ordeal either. She wasn’t fully dilated and so in order to get the lambs out, as careful as we tried to be, I am sure she tore on the inside as eventually care had to be put aside and we needed to pull with all we had in us in order to get the babies out and try to save mama. We gave her penicillin twice a day to prevent infection and used iodine and diatomaceous earth to try to keep the flies at bay but eventually it was the flies that got to her and she had to be put down. This was our oldest sheep and we didn’t want to take any chances rebreeding her so as far as herd management goes we would have had to ship her anyway which would have been a better outcome but sometimes we don’t get to choose right?
Jenny and Betsy birthed at the same time late Thursday night. Both births went fine and we discovered both after the deliveries were finished. Each mama has one baby ewe. As far as mothering goes Jenny did fine but Betsy was overprotective and very stressed with the llama’s nearby and in protecting her lamb would not let it nurse. The same applied in the morning when we tried to help baby nurse…mama just kept turning trying to guard her lamb. As one point Scott caught and held Betsy as I milked her and was able to get some colostrum into the lamb which gave it a little boost. Scott then had to go to work and the kids and I were on our own. Betsy continued in her overprotective behavior and eventually the lamb became so weak we took it away from her thinking it a goner. We couldn’t catch Betsy to milk her again and so we did a search and found a homemade colostrum recipe and hoped for the best but didn’t expect too much by the way little lamb was faring.
Here is the homemade colostrum recipe that we used…..
600 ml. or 2 1/2 cups of milk ( I used whole store-bought because that was our only option.)
1 tsp castor oil (to help keep things moving)
1 small egg
We whisked all this together and heated it to blood heat – like you would a babies bottle.
We fed the lamb with a syringe (about 1/4 cup) of homemade colostrum. That turned out quite messy. The lamb laid sleeping for about two hours and we got it up again and took it outside to lay on the lawn. We then stomach tubed it and gave it 1/8 of a cup of homemade colostrum. This went a lot better and is what we should have done in the first place. An hour later the kids said it was more alert and seemed hungry so we stomach tubed it again with another 1/8 cup of homemade colostrum. After about 15 minutes it began to stand and then tried to climb our deck steps, then began the calling for mom. It started to baa. It did that a couple of times then mama started to answer. After a few minutes of this I thought well….might as well try to give her back. Amazingly the lamb seemed strong enough to possibly nurse and nurse she did! Betsy took her back very excitedly and baby nursed. We had to keep the pair separate from the others for a couple of days because mama kept loosing her baby after being separated for the day. She didn’t have her lambs smell down clearly enough. But after a couple of days they are now with the others and doing fine. So that story has a happy ending.
As for us, we are glad that lambing is over and we have learned a lot to keep in mind for next year. 🙂
Nubbins and her twins
Jenny and her lamb
Betsy and her lamb