Thursday, 21 April 2016

Delivering a Lamb Backward

That was the last of the twins. Both are doing great.

Three more ewes with singles (the "One and Done"ers) lambed on Sunday. Right after it snowed. First time mum 0005 finally produced a lamb after four chances, but lacked the mothering instinct inherent in Dorset sheep. I found her lambsicle frozen to the ground, not even licked clean, with mother grazing a few yards away.

To add to her crimes, she then attempted to steal a baby from the next ewe to lamb, a good old experienced mother. I had to put a pen around them to keep 0005 away. I took 0005 straight to market as a cull ewe the next day. No bad mothers allowed in the flock. Not like Richard Rountree in "Shaft" Bad Mothers (we keep Grumpy after all), but like Joan Crawford "Mommie Dearest" bad mothers. Like wire hangers, those are not allowed.

The snow stopped, the sun has come out, and I have one ewe left to lamb, So I guess I'm "One and Done too"!


Maria said...

Hi Jen, that's a lovely video. I specially loved you saying 'sorry love' to the ewe :-) Lovely to see the ewe getting straight to business with licking her lamb clean.
Sorry to hear about ewe 0005 and her lack of mothering instinct!

17th stitch said...

Oh heavens - what a tragedy about ewe 0005 and her lamb.

Paula said...

Well damn if you didn't make that look easy, which I'm guessing it's not. Are you particularly strong or did the lamb really swoop right out of there once you had a handle on it?

Jennifer Montero said...

Paula - As the lamb was coming backwards, it pretty much "swoops out of there" as you say. I would normally try and time my pulling with contractions, when the lamb is coming out head first. Feet first, the lamb can get fluid in its lungs so you have to be as quick as you can, and give the lamb a little swing and a thump to help clear the lungs. That said, I'm a fairly hefty gal too!

Neil said...

You make it look so easy Jennifer, getting that baby out, up, and going. Me, I know nothing about lambing or life on a farm. But I was wondering about the ‘lambsicle frozen to the ground, not even licked clean, with mother grazing a few yards away’.

If 0005 gave birth to a dead lamb, would she lick it clean, or just walk away? Was her attempt to later steal a baby her way of trying to replace the lambsicle, if it was born dead? Maybe I’m reading too much into sheep psychology, of which I’m clueless. Thanks, love your blog.

Jennifer Montero said...

Neil - Different breeds of sheep are known for having stronger and weaker mothering instincts. Dorsets are very good mothers. It's instinct for mothers to lick and even paw at newborn lambs to get them up and suckling. A belly full of milk and the ability to flee any predator is the only defence a lamb has. I've watched ewes tend to lambs born dead for hours trying to get them on their feet. It's heartbreaking. It's usually a good day or two before the ewe accepts the loss. Even then, you can skin the dead lamb (ewww) and put the skin on a foster lamb, and give it back to the ewe. I've never seen one rejected. Shepherds usually keep a dead lamb for a couple of days for that purpose.

I hope you're not eating while reading this....glad you enjoy the blog and questions are always welcome.

Neil said...

Thank you Jennifer for a thoughtful response. As a child I dreamed of becoming a farmer one day. Now I’m glad to follow your blog instead, and appreciate your time and effort.