Riddlesden Jacobs

A site about a West Yorkshire flock of Jacob Sheep

And we’re off…

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I remember from last year how it is so easy to get behind with blogging about lambing. Lambing is exciting and nerve wracking and busy. We take lots of picture – many of them rubbish but they need sorting through… Anyway, last year I kept thinking I’d sort out the photos and then do a blog post but it just doesn’t work like that so this year I am less concerned about selecting the best pictures and more interested in keeping you up to date.

And on that note: We have triplets. The wait is finally over and our first lambs have

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First 2017 lamb minutes old

arrived. The last few days have been an anxious wait. Our first ewe due according to our chart must have been a miss and must actually have been tupped a bit later – she was showing no sign of anything really. A couple of times we wondered but it turned out she just had an awkward itch on her back.

The next two due were our Number 6 – the ewe with the prolapse issues – and one of our shearlings. We were anxious about Number 6. Our home made harness was doing its job and she seemed more settled with it on and there’d been no signs of prolapse but at some point the harness would need to come off! While everything we’d read suggested that ewes can lamb with a harness on, the logistics baffled me a bit and it can’t be comfortable even if possible. However in taking the harness off too early  we’d risk prolapse and disaster.

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2nd born 2017 lamb minute old

When we arrived at the field yesterday evening Number 6 had taken herself into the shed. The rest of the flock was at the other end of the field. We penned her in and watched a bit but there was nothing. Nothing at 9pm, nothing at midnight, nothing at 4am. We went on again around 6.45 am. Number 6 was a little restless. We watched her a little. She appeared to want to be out but other than that there were no signs of anything. So we opened the pen. But instead of leaving the shed and joining the flock she just laid down in a different corner of the shed. Instead of penning her in we put a gate across the doorway and watched. Eventually we could see the contractions and were sure it was different to when we’d seen her push the prolapse out. We cut the harness off her and backed off. Then we waited and watched. At about 7.40am a head appeared. Just a head. No little feet. We went in to help. Number 6 let herself be held immediately and Kath managed to bring both of the lamb’s front legs forward gently and then pulled the lamb out in sync with a contraction. There was a horrible moment where we thought the lamb was being born dead, then Kath realised it was alive but really struggling for air. It’s so hard not to panic and as a result work too fast and make a mistake and once the lamb  was out we still weren’t sure we’d got it to oxygen in time but we had and when it did a little funny sneeze and shook it’s head we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and probably did both. Number 6 licked it clean and dry and did exactly what she should do so we backed off. We later checked and it’s a little gimmer lamb.

Then we waited some more. Given the size of her we were fairly sure there’d be more. But IMG_3618nothing seemed to happen for such a long time. Every now and again she stopped the licking and seemed to get restless and at about 8.20am we were just beginning to think that we might have to have a look to make sure the next lamb wasn’t stuck when she laid down and pushed a rather large head out – again we couldn’t see feet but just as we were about to go in she had another contraction and didn’t need our help. The second lamb was a not so little ram lamb and because of the angle we were at and his markings we just hadn’t been able to see his legs. He was up using them really quickly though and he was also keen to drink quickly – much quicker than his sister.

There then again seemed to be an age  where nothing much happened but there was no afterbirth either and eventually there were more huge contractions and another head appeared. This little one was also stuck. The legs were partly forward but then curled under making it really difficult to uncurl them and bring them forward. Pushing the lamb slightly back so you can make room for the legs doesn’t feel like a natural thing to do and that feeling of knowing that if you get it wrong the lamb will die is horrendous. Put she too made it. Number 6, with a little help from us, has three seemingly healthy triplets. They’re big for triplets and the ram lamb’s horns are through already. The sense of relief here is palpable. It’s like we’ve been holding out breath and are finally daring to breathe again.

17321397_710953582418126_1019003262_nAll three lambs were a little cold and Number 6 was a little bewildered at having three. We gave them a little bit of help drying them off fully with towels and giving them each a turn in our make-shift lamb box where they could warm their little bodies on a hot water bottle. Number 6 seems to be coping well. We gave her some glucose stuff to give her an energy boost and then we left her to it after having made a pen that allows her to come outside the shed a bit. It was tempting to let her out but she hadn’t expelled the afterbirth yet and we need to make sure she is feeding all three lambs ok.

This afternoon we cleaned her back end up a little because she was a bit of a mess and by then the afterbirth had been expelled so we cleaned up the pen too. I think Number 6 had had enough of us by then because our presence seemed to stress her a bit so we left her to it. We took a bottle on to top the triplets up earlier this evening and try and take some pressure off her but none of them were interested. They were warm, dry and had full little bellies.

All was quiet at 9.30pm ish and I am really just waiting to do the midnight ish check – not IMG_3623really for Number 6 although I will of course check her and the lambs but more to check on the shearling. She has separated herself off several times today and then rejoined the flock. This afternoon she was behaving a bit oddly and we know that she was tupped in the same roughly 16 hour period as Number 6. She’s got to have her lambs soon, surely. Hopefully we won’t have to interfere – the weather is still holding up so if she pops her lambs out on her own, I will just leave her. If there’s a problem I’ll turn our shed into a proper maternity ward and Number 6 will have to be penned up with her lambs until the morning.

I hope to have more good lambing news soon. For now though, night night. Oh and keep an eye on our Facebook page for more pictures and videos as we take them!

 

 

 

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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