Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Lamb Surprise!

No, it's not a recipe!

I got home yesterday to find these in the top paddock.

We were very worried for this ewe. Over a month ago we brought her into the stables as she appeared to be showing a few signs of early labour. But once in the stable, all signs stopped so we let her back out again.
Since then two of the other ewes have given birth (it seems so long ago now) and our pregnant ewe has been back into the stable three times. Every time, she has settled back into a normal routine.

A sheep's cycle is just 17 days, so when that period had passed by we started to wonder what was going on. Worst case scenario would be a dead lamb inside which could well lead to very serious complications and quite likely the death of the ewe. We had now reached 31 days since the first ewe gave birth and 45 since the first possible due date. Very worrying.

I really wanted to move the sheep out of the top paddock, since four ewes and three lambs meant the grass was getting very well grazed. Last week I bit the bullet and moved the two ewes with lambs at foot down the land where they settled in very nicely. They enjoyed a munch on the hedge along the way.

We left the pregnant ewe up at the top with the non-pregnant one for company. We were getting increasingly worried for her as first the three week mark then the four week mark went by. There seemed to be no perceptible changes in her size or the appearance of her udders or back end. But at least she showed no signs of distress or illness.
We asked a few other smallholders for advice, but no one had much more to add that we didn't know. We decided to just observe for one more week before calling the vet for further advice. On top of all this, I was aware that the shearer will be coming over soon and that I didn't really want one sheep left unsheared.

The weekend was very much taken up with baby birds and with gardening. Nothing in particular seemed to be going on with the sheep.

So it was quite a shock when I arrived back from work about lunchtime yesterday and glanced into the paddock. There was our ewe and she was nuzzling a tiny lamb. It took a few moments to sink in what had happened and a few more moments for me to spot the second lamb. They were both cleaned and feeding well, but mum had not yet passed the placenta. I had only been away about three hours.

I snipped the umbilical cords to stop them dragging on the ground and sprayed them with iodine to prevent infection getting in. Then I just stood leaning on the gate and watched for most of the afternoon. I had been fearing the worst so this was very, very good news indeed.
Even better was that both sides of her udders seemed to be working well, for last year we had to call the vet out for this ewe as her udder was fine on one side but hard and hot on the udder (sorry!)
I have put the newborns inside for today, only because we have some very welcome prolonged heavy rain and I don't want them getting a chill. But tomorrow they will be back outside and hopefully bouncing around the paddock on their gangly legs.
They are both boys, so there is one more job left to do in a few days time. Blokes, cross your legs now.

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