Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lambing 2012

I’m happy to tell you that little Zoroaster survived & is doing well after his birth ordeal. After emerging from his mommy he found himself in a mud puddle up to his armpits. Thank goodness he started out a vigorous little tyke, with a determination to survive. The first night was iffy, but since then he has been flying along with the rest of the flock.

Among sheep, births usually occur without too much difficulty. The ewes are often independent, requiring little intervention other to make sure that the mother has a safe & warm place to deliver her lambs. I’m not sure what mortality is like for range sheep, but here we try to keep a close eye on everybody for good nutrition throughout pregnancy, and to watch before & during labor for problems. This year, we have mostly first-timers, so this is new territory for all except for two of our girls. It is our fourth year of lambing.

Here are Rachael & Quinn. They're from two different mothers, but are good friends. So much cuteness!

Ellen has been uncomfortable for three full days. The vet has been out to see her & felt that the lambs were getting repositioned for delivery, which could occur any time within the next few days. We have watched her fidget, stretch, sway, paw (and I’m sure this is where the expression “piss & moan” came from). But no labor. You may see fireworks of celebration when she finally gives birth.

Three more ewes left to give birth. And then we can get some sleep, at least until our new puppy comes! (More on that later)

Thursday, March 1, 2012


We have been watching our pregnant ewes for the last week or two, guessing that because of her enooooorrrmooouse belly, Glenda would be delivering lambs first. At least twins. But every time we’ve gone out to check, she’s been cheerfully munching on hay, alfalfa pellets, & begging for what we call “donuts” (actually Show Lamb Grain, which resembles a concoction of granola with molasses). None of the predictive circling & pawing on the ground, none of the soft baaing that usually accompany sheep labor. So at noon, when I heard some of those soft baas on the baby monitor, I went running in anticipation that Glenda might be ready to go.

To my surprise, it was little Contessa who had delivered twins, her very first lambs. I heard baby lamb bleats, quite determined ones at that, and found little Yo Yo Baa (lighter of the two) standing & being groomed by his mom, and Zoroaster (black with white star on head) lying in a mud puddle, yelling his little head off. So we pulled him out, warmed him up, trimmed & cleaned off umbilical cords & got the three settled in a lambing jug for a couple of days of bonding time. Yo Yo was up & eating vigorously in no time. Zoroaster was a little less vigorous, but seemed to be getting some colostrum.

All went pretty well until late afternoon, when Zoroaster’s energy level plummeted. A quick check of his mouth indicated that his temperature had dropped, and he was standing with back arched. . . not a good sign. Time for warm towels, milking mom for colostrum, and feeding him with a syringe. He was able to swallow, fortunately. I lent out my one and only gavage tube last year & haven’t gone back to retrieve it. Zoroaster was able to drink & probably got at least half of what I tried to feed him. I thought it a good idea to touch bases with the Vet about the possibility of antibiotics, but he suggested a couple cc’s of corn syrup to bring up the blood sugar quickly. What a miracle! Of course, I’ll be going back out to keep an eye on the little tyke. His temperature is up to normal, although his mouth is still cold. If he needs, I’ll continue syringe feeding, and hopefully he should perk up soon once his temperature & intake stabilize.

Contessa has been a champ through this. Although I see a lot of question marks hanging above her head (these are her first lambs - this is all new to her), she is cooperative when I need to milk her, and seems to comprehend that this little fellow is still *her* lamb (not mine). Keeping fingers crossed!