Posts Tagged With: lambs

Scanning the Ewes

We put the Rams out with the ewes on New Years Day, every year (occasionally the next day, depending on the night before!!).  This has them ready for lambing on June 1st.  For the last couple of months the nutrition of the ewes is crucial to the success of lambing.  Ideally the ewes that are having twins are well fed to give their growing twins the best chance possible of a good birth weight.  The ewes having a single lamb need to have their feed limited so their lambs don’t grow too big and cause birthing problems.

So… We scan our ewes six weeks or so before lambing to determine which ones are having singles and which ones are having multiples.


This is Matt, who does our scanning.  This year we scanned at 127%, which is fairly normal for us, we are usually between 120 and 130%.  We had 47 ewes that weren’t in lamb at all. Some of these were quite young, so will stay in the flock ready for next year.  A handful were quite old so were “retired”!

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Five bottle lambs now!!

So we have five orphaned lambs now! The original one, Mischeifa, is going great. He’s grown lots, and is really fit and healthy. The second two lambs we got were named Bobby, and Boris. They were both found off by themselves on different days, and quite weak. Not sure why – we have had a few sets of triplets this year, and sometimes the weakest one can get left behind. Anyway, they both took to the bottle very quickly.

The last two I came across on the morning of the Chook Pen Disaster! It had been a terribly wet, cold and windy night, and when I found them they were very, very weak and barely alive. In both cases their mums were standing over them, urging them to get up, but I knew they wouldn’t last another hour if I didn’t take them home and warm them up.

20140707-152041.jpg Here they are in front of the fire, with Jaz keeping an eye on them while I make up their milk. You can see how weak they look! The big one I don’t think had been up since being born as he still had the orange birth fluid on one side where he was lying and the ewe couldn’t get to it to lick it off. Maybe it was a difficult birth as he is quite big. The smaller one looked to be a couple of days old.

When they are so weak like this, they can’t drink from a bottle, so I had to “tube” them. We have a special small, thin tube, that is attached to a little cup.

20140709-102530.jpg To use it, you first measure the distance from the last rib (roughly where the stomach is) to the end of the lambs mouth, so that you know how far the tube needs to be inserted. For the big lamb, it needed to go in right up to the cup, but there was a couple of cm left with the little lamb. I always grease the tube first with a bit of vegetable oil, to help it to slide down easier.

When the lamb is lying on their side their side like this you open their mouth using a finger in the side of their mouth and place the tube over their tongue, towards the back of their throat. Then you need to gently keep passing the tube through to the stomach. I usually check for signs of swallowing, which is a reflex action that even very weak lambs will do as the tube passes down their throat, and this is a good way to tell that you havn’t accidentally gone down the windpipe. Also, the lungs are closer up the body than the stomach, so you probably wouldn’t be able to get the tube down all the way, if you had entered the windpipe. Often you can also hear a weezing sound of their breathing if you are in the wrong pipe.

Once you have the tube inserted correctly you lift the cup and pour in the milk. I was actually able to catch one of the ewes of these lambs, which I always try to do if I can, so I can milk some colostrum from them. The more colostrum the lambs get the better their chance for survival. So both these lambs got colostrum for their first couple of feeds. I usually only give about 30ml for each of the first few feeds, so their stomach has time to adjust -little and often!

Depending on how weak the lamb is they may struggle and try and maneuver it out with their tongue or by shaking their head. This is a good sign – it means they have some fight in them still, but even ones that don’t, can still be saved! It usually only takes a few tube feeds and then you get a surprise when you suddenly hear a loud bleat. Before you know it they are starting to stand up, and then you can start trying to train them onto the bottle!

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Here they all are, out in the paddock. Today we are going to set up a multifeeder for them, as it is hard work feeding five lambs with bottles. It takes at least two of us, ideally three! Jasmine gives them plenty of love!

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Lambing continues…..

We had another lovely day yesterday (today is exceptionally cold, rainy and windy!! Great winter weather), so I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera as I headed out to check the lambing ewes.

Lamb photo

I love this shot of this little lamb, high on the hill. It looks like he’s all alone, but his mum was just out of shot, keeping a careful eye on him as she was grazing.

 

Twin lambs photo

A brand new set of twins. As you can see they actually come out covered in an orange film, which the ewe then licks off them, usually within the first few hours.

Lambing photo

They are pretty content overall at the moment, particularly here: warm sunshine, plenty of fresh green feed, and new babies to love!

Look away now if you don’t like gory/ unfortunate photos. This little lamb has had its tail bitten off by a fox. He obviously has a very brave ewe as a mum as she was able to frighten the fox away before he could completely drag the lamb away. We occasionally see lambs that this has happened to, not often. Usually I suspect the fox manages to drag the lamb away completely.

Twin lamb photo

The lamb on the left has the end of its tail missing, due to a fox trying to drag it away.

I managed to catch this little fellow, just to make sure that it was okay, and not injured anywhere else. Besides his tail, he was fine. He could still run around, and suckle, so I know he’ll survive. One of the lucky ones!

Its hard to gauge how many lambs we lose to foxes. We occasionally see lamb carcasses in the paddock that have been chewed on, but I suspect that they have died due to a natural cause, and the damage we see is actually the hawks, eagles or crows pecking at the lamb after it has died – getting an opportunity feed. I think when a fox takes a lamb it actually drags it back to its den, to share with the rest of its family. Overall we’re pretty happy with how it’s all going.

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Lambing Underway

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Our ewes started lambing about three weeks ago. They are actually due to start on the 1st June ( because we put the rams in on New Years Day, and they have a 6 month gestation period). However they always seem to start about a week early.

I try and get around the ewes at least once a day. I look for things like ewes that are having trouble lambing, or lambs that have got separated from their mums or lambs that are weak. Also, because we are quite hilly often the big, heavily pregnant ewes will lie down, and get themselves cast on their backs and we have to tip them back onto their feet and steady them until they get their balance again. If left cast for too long they get week, and aren’t able to right themselves again, and have to be put down. Mostly so far it’s been rather uneventful which is good.

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We have found one weak lamb, that was a twin that wasn’t getting enough milk. By the time we’d found it, it wasn’t able to stand up and was very cold. We brought it back to the house and bundled it up beside the fire. Luckily it was still strong enough to suckle, so it could drink from a bottle with just a little encouragement. Sometimes, when they are too weak, we have to tube the milk into them, which is an easy process and usually quite successful. Anyway this little one is now going great, and been named Mischeifa (don’t ask me why that name) by middle child Danny.

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Of course, Shed Cat always has to be part of the action!

 

 

As seen on

The Clever Chicks Blog Hop

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Lambing has started!!!

Our first lambs have been born. I know it happens every year, but its always very exciting to see those first ones. After six weeks of checking them morning and night in the cold and wet, I’ll be over it, but right now, it’s exciting.

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These are a little set of twins. They were born yesterday, and are looking quite robust already. Our actual due date to start lambing is the 1st of June, as we always put the rams in on New Years Day. (6 months gestation) However we always get a handful arrive early.

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