Number 12 is a lovely ewe. She’s a bit on the older side and this is likely to be her last year lambing. She comes from a line of calm, caring, brilliant ewes that have historically managed to lamb in all weathers and get their babies through anything. She has lambed like clockwork previously and did not let us down this year either. She hit her due date of 24th March and promptly popped out a lamb. It was a gorgeous morning with the light playing with the dew drops on the grass so the lamb was immediately called Dewey.
Kath watched her. It wasn’t an easy birth for her and at one point she was bleating so much that Kath was sure the lamb must be stuck and causing her pain but then she laid down and pushed the lamb out. She immediately starting licking it and mothering it and all looked well. Kath called me to let me know and I walked on to meet the new arrival. We watched for a little bit, we guessed Dewey was a little ram as we could see horns (we were right) and then headed to Anne’s for breakfast. Between us we’d been watching ewe and lamb for over 2 hours and all seemed to be going really well. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and Anne’s neighbour told us that the new born lamb was lying on it’s side twitching. By the time we got there Number 12 was starting to walk away and leave the lamb. It was so out of character that it all felt really wrong and upsetting.
Kath got there first, scooped up the lamb, it was breathing, and tried to take Number 12 and the lamb into the shed. Number 12 followed her in and we penned her. We made up our trusted lamb box and got the little ram lamb a bit warmer. We also made up a bottle of colostrum replacer. Number 12 still hadn’t expelled the placenta and seemed very tender. There was also a bit of blood when she peed. We gave her a shot of painkiller and antibiotics as well as some ketosaid and the energy boost seemed to give her the strength for a last push which got the afterbirth out.
What followed were some agonising hours where Number 12 didn’t seem interested in the lamb for most of the time but did show interest when it bleated (which it didn’t do very often) or if we took it out of the pen. Kath sat with the lamb on her knee in the pen rubbing it and feeding it bits of colostrum replacer until his gums were no longer cold. Number 12 seemed to relax, she seemed to trust Kath to deal with her lamb. It’s probably our imagination but it felt like she was asking for and accepting our help.Once little Dewey was warmer throughout and we were confident he’d had some colostrum replacer we let them sleep. When we went back to check he was still shivering/shaking but he was warm and he was also getting food judging by the feel of his tummy. We decided to trust Number 12 and left them to it. We had to disturb them over night to feed the bottle fed lambs but they seemed nice and settled.
The next morning we let them out into the gorgeous spring sunshine and Number 12 immediately perked up. She no longer has any discharge and now seems more comfortable with him drinking. He spends an awful lot of the time flat out asleep but he is getting enough food and seems to be ok. He’s not as strong as his size would indicate or as we would like or expect at his age but he’s doing ok. He spent his first night outdoors wedged between his mother and a lick bucket but seemed to quite like it there. We’ll keep an eye on him but now that Number 12 has fully accepted responsibility for him we are less concerned, she is, after all, supermum.