Why do I sleep during lambing? Every year, one of the ewes slides out their lambs unseen while the whole household sleeps. There are always those few minutes when no one is watching. Lambing is natural I hear you shout. What can possibly go wrong you say. Indeed, plenty of ewes lamb unassisted and cope with their offspring with no help.
Well, every year I get caught out. Three years ago, a set of triples, one didn’t make it out of the bag and died. Beast From The East, a ewe scanned for two slipped out three and two almost froze to death within minutes of birth. Those two spent a whole week in a toddlers playpen in my study before they were even strong enough to suckle from a bottle. Spotty and Dotty they were called, and if we had found them just 5 minutes later it would have been a different story. Last year I rocked into the barn at 0200hrs to find one had popped out three while another was in the process of delivering her second. One of the triples was, again, stuck in the bag and didn’t make it. So I have reason to be very paranoid about watching the cameras and trying to watch every moment throughout the nights. Obviously, this isn’t possible.
Last night (or indeed early this morning) this was “the one” this year. Phil saw a lamb on its own in the pen, and woke me. I grabbed whatever was to hand and rushed to the yard sticking various bits of clothing over limbs, even occasionally getting the right arm in the right sleeve as I ran. Three lambs were out and the ewes stood in a gaggle in the corner, shocked by the sudden intrusion of light, all looking innocent of the scene I met and guilty at the same time. One lamb, again, had not made it out of its birth bag and was unable to survive. Another lamb was at the very opposite end of the large pen, standing alone and calling, and a third, lying directly between the two. No ewe was laying claim to them. Clearly the priority was the lambs and I took all three out of the pen and popped the two surviving ones in a bonding pen. It is still possible that the ewe would mother them, I just had to find which had birthed them, indeed, if they were the result of one lambing or two separate ones.
I found the mum and put her in with them but she could not have been less interested. Huge sympathies, I imagine it is pretty scary first time, no clue what is happening to you, and with a bit of time and patience, they usually come round and make fantastic mothers. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the mum had absolutely no milk. Literally none. So I had to move the two lambs into the kitchen and take over.
Both lambs needed first to be warmed a little and then get a first feed of colostrum. We’ve got them into the nursery for the newest lambs in lambing-HQ, and they’re doing great. One has issues with their legs from how they were lying in the womb but I know this will straighten quickly. Both have quickly taken to the bottle and are feeding well and happily.
It’s been a busy week, you can watch more about it on this week’s update …. Oh, and Rosie and her trio and doing just fine 🙂