Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Ladies who Lamb

Lambing is going well. We had two sets of twins born on Easter, one set before a big family lunch and one set after. Mums and babes are all thriving. The weather's been so warm, the ewes are seeking shade for their afternoon siestas.

There were no lambs to deliver the next two mornings, not at our place anyway. I had a dawn phone call Monday and Tuesday morning from Margaret (she who kept the Queen's goat). She's lambing Jacob sheep, and because Margaret gives them such exceptional care, most are having triplets and quadruplets. BIG ones.

I delivered triplets for her Monday morning, simply a case of a big head in a small birth canal. This morning was the hardest presentation I've ever worked on: the first lamb coming out backwards, back legs forward and its hips stuck fast blocking the birth canal:

Image from www.depi.vic.gov.au/

The ewe was heavy, and the lambs were big so there wasn't much room to work in there.

I managed to get the hind legs pointing towards the birth canal and worked the hips free, but the lamb was born dead. The ewe had twin lamb's disease - basically no energy - and stopped pushing. I lined up the other lambs, and pulled them out as the ewe couldn't even push to load them in the birth canal. It's what I call an "armpit delivery" because you have your arm in as far as it can go searching for the lambs. I pleased to say both those were alive and strong, all things considered. So 5 out of 6. Not too bad.

We joked over a postpartum cup of coffee that, instead of Ladies who Lunch, we're Ladies who Lamb. Not quite as glamorous, and you have to wash your clothes a lot more often,

Another of my ewes lambed just now, a sensible afternoon lambing from the shepherdess point of view as it still leaves me enough time to cook supper and do my evening chores before sunset. We're over halfway there, only nine more ewes to lamb!

This evening's birth: Ewe 00021, a proud-looking first time mum and her ewe lamb


Seester said...

What a busy and exciting time! I wonder what the birthrate would be without human intervention? (not counting the fact that pretty much everything about sheep is the result of human intervention.)
That last image is so adorable! You deserved an easy afternoon birth. I hope you get to enjoy your tea!

El said...

You are such a hero of the Mr Herriot stripe. I've only had to intervene once on a goat (small mom/huge baby with a foot stuck) and that was enough thanks, though admittedly my goats think I am a goddess who can do no wrong. My sheep on the other hand are so skittish I can't imagine getting close enough to one in labor that they'd even agree I was helping. I'm barely "helping" when I bring out their morning rations!

Fingers crossed for an easy passage for the rest of the baa-baas, and only normal washing-up for you