Riddlesden Jacobs

A site about a West Yorkshire flock of Jacob Sheep

17 hours and counting

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The wait is over. At about 5.06am this morning my mobile rang and woke me up – Kath had gone to check the field early and our shearling 4 horn, we call her Stumpy because she broke off both her side horns when she was a lamb, had just had twins. They were apparently fine. I jumped up and threw some clothes on and made a flask of tea and headed off. I think I was nearly at the field before I really realised what was happening.

When I got there Kath had become concerned about one of the lambs. The ewe wasn’t really licking them and one in particular looked very cold. We decided they needed to come in. The ewe followed Kath carrying the lambs into the shed with only one little incident where she nearly ran off. My fault, I got too close just as she was going into the shed. Eventually lambs and ewe were safely penned though and we rubbed the lambs down with straw and towels. The ewe hadn’t really licked them enough and they were still very wet.

We were struggling to get them warm and by 6.15 I went to Anne’s for a hot water bottle. It was also clear that the poor ewe was bewildered and very very sore. She didn’t want the lambs to drink and kicked us away as we tried to help, too. The lambs were going downhill and we just couldn’t get them warm. We made up a bottle of volostrum – artificial colostrum and I tried to get them to drink some of that while Kath went for more hot water bottles and a box. Once we got the lambs into the makeshift lamb warming box and I managed to get a bit of volostrum in them the lambs came round a bit. We gave the ewe a shot of antibiotics to give her system a boost

We left the lambs in the box and went home for breakfast. We’d done all we could for now and hoped that some time just left alone would allow her to bond with the lambs. I called the vet to ask for some painkiller for the ewe because she really wasn’t keen to let the lambs drink. I went back to see the ewe and the lambs were warm and dry and I took them out of the box and put them with her. They wanted to be with her and she nuzzled them. Then I went to pick up my mum and the painkiller from the vet. When I got back to the field the ewe and the lambs were on their feet and judging by their bellies the lambs had had some milk. I injected the painkiller and watched the little ram lamb latch onto the ewe.

As the day went on we kept popping back to check on the lambs and we did try and top them up with the volostrum and then later with the powdered milk stuff but they are clearly getting milk from the ewe and her instincts are slowly kicking in. We’ve seen them both up and about (and the ram lamb was now piddled on his sister twice – you can see him standing over her in the picture above) and we’ve seen both drink from the ewe. I am about to go and do the last evening check and then Kath will do early morning again. We’re not there yet but I’m hopeful – the lambs have survived at least 17 hours now, I am willing them to make it.

Author: Jess Guth

Dr Jess Guth is a Senior Lecturer in Law. She blogs at jessguth.com She also doesn't really run - reallynotarunner.com

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