It feels like lambing is really getting going now and we’re getting into the swing of a routine. The best thing is that the rain has finally stopped!!! So we can get the gaggle of odds and sods out again. They’ve had a couple of weeks in the barn to dry out, get some decent food into them, and relax, all of which they will have benefitted from, so it’s time to get them gone.
This could honestly not have timed better as I need a nursery space for the newest lambs. Before they go out, I just need to extract the four shetlands from the group, and worm them. All sounds so simple when put like that! I have a new array of bruises from actually carrying out the task as they are still a pretty wild bunch.
The pen is quickly cleared with the machines and help, and laid with lime, shavings and fresh straw. It’s useful to have a “nursery”, though not essential. The lambs are just three days old and pretty small. They shouldn’t get cold outside, but it is still only mid-March, and they wouldn’t do well in the wet. They also get used to each other in a small group, and get used to going to their own mum. So the first three ewes are prepped for moving out of their bonding pens and moved on. What prep is required? A few things …… The lambs are fully checked over, and we ring their tails and testicles. Tails because they inevitably get messy at some stage which attracts flies and the risk of the horrendous fly-strike, testicles as we are not fast-rearing our lambs for early meat sales so a field full of testosterone-fuelled lambs and ewe lambs would have inevitable unwanted consequences. Some don’t even notice it, others are uncomfortable for a few minutes, but it is very quickly forgotten and the lambs are fast back on their feet and bouncing around again. The ewes also get a full MOT. Soiled wool around the back end is trimmed away, feet and teeth are checked, each is given a squirt of wormer. Ewes and lambs get their number or letter “mark” and out they go, onto the next stage.
What lambs have we had so far …. There are the quads, all now doing well though we had a bit of an emergency with the tiny one. I found her floppy, cold, and unresponsive. An hour inside by the aga followed by a belly full of warm milk sorted her out and she’s back in with her family group with a woolly jumper on! The first single of the year is huge, I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. We had to help pull it out and mum (a first-timer) was not impressed with the whole process so chose to completely ignore him for a while. Once in the bonding pen and back on her feet, maternal instinct kicked in and she was soon knickering away to the little chap. Well, not so little, but you know what I mean.
With ewes moving into the nursery, we have our first cade lambs in lambing HQ. As I discussed in an earlier video, we leave two lambs with a ewe and take the others to be hand-reared. Some ewes can rear three, but it’s pretty rough on the ewe so I don’t do it anymore. If you’ve ever seen a couple of lambs run up to their mum to feed and seen how they literally lift her back half off the ground with the force as they find the bag and latch on, you’d know what I mean! Three strong lambs battling over two teats is not easy and can result in torn teats. Ouch! So we have three lambs in the cade pen already and once they get used to taking a bottle, they’re happy and settled with their new playmates.
More ewes are going into labour so I’ll sign off for now … but we’ll be back soon with the next update.