Riddlesden Jacobs

A site about a West Yorkshire flock of Jacob Sheep


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Saying goodbye to Tufty and her sister

The heartbreak continues. We introduced Stumpy’s twins a couple of days ago. Both have died. When I wrote the blog I was getting ready to go on and feed Kevin and Snuffles and check on the twins. I was hopeful. We were a little concerned about the smaller of the two but the other one seemed to be responding to Stumpy. When I got there both lambs were freezing and weak. I made up the lamb box, phoned Anne for an additional hot water bottle and made up volostrum. Stumpy was beside herself going from lamb to lamb nudging them and constantly ‘talking’ to them. It was heartbreaking to watch.

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Kath woke up and realised I’d been a while so called me and I told her I was struggling to keep the lambs alive. She came on. We sat for over 3 hours in the pen feeding the lambs volostrum in tiny tiny little sips and getting them warm. Both responded very slowly but they responded. Stumpy was anxious but accepting of our help. She never stopped ‘talking to’ the lambs. We left at around 1.30am having got the lambs to roughly where we had Dewey before returning him to his mother’s care. We were still really worried about the smaller one but we made the decisionĀ and left. We had a couple of hours sleep and headed back to the shed at 5.30am. Both lambs were still alive but the smaller one was completely unresponsive and then died in Kath’s arms. Stumpy was still ‘talking’ and trying with the other lamb. It was freezing again. We tried to help it in the pen but it was clear it needed more. We brought her home.

We called her Tufty because she was really fluffy and the black spots of wool really stood up and felt really, well, tufty. We got a fan heater on her and she warmed up and throughout the day Kath kept dribbling little bits of volostrum into her mouth. She also got some lamb reviver into her. In the evening Tufty had a few suckles from the bottle and showed interest in food. She was incredibly weak though and couldn’t really stand on her own.

IMG_3992 (480x640)Kath nursed her through the night, dozing on the sofa with her and trying to get more food in her but she stopped wanting food and then started resisting the bottle. She looked miserable and was unsettled. She kept wanting to take a few steps but just fell over. She had a couple of brighter moments but mostly just cuddled in to weak to do anything else. She would bleat occasionally and she had the most pitiful heart wrenching bleat. It made us cry every time we heard it. This morning we took her to the vet. The vet took a good look at her and listened to her symptoms and our account of what is going on with the flock. She didn’t have any solutions. She said it sounded a little like E-coli but that wasn’t really likely without the diarrhea. She said she could give Tufty an antibiotic and we could try and coIMG_4011 (640x480)ntinue to nurse her but we decided it wasn’t fair. If there was a reaction to the antibiotic we’d at least know that it was the right one for any other poorly lambs but the vet agreed that Tufty probably wasn’t strong enough to pull through. It was clear to Kath, who had nursed Tufty all night, that her body was shutting down and all our experience and knowledge of our flock and nursing pet lambs told us she wouldn’t come round. She was too weak and it wasn’t right to keep her alive just to see if this was the right antibiotic for whatever is going on to then watch her slowly die.

We walked away feeling sick and heartbroken as the vet put Tufty to sleep. Poor Stumpy was pining for her babies. She has settled a little since we let her out of the shed but I feel sick every time I see her. I don’t know how to make it better for her. I don’t know how to explain to her that we couldn’t save her babies.

The vet suggested that when the last ewe lambs we give the lamb(s) a shot of antibiotics straight away so the plan is to get the lamb(s) and ewe in, get the lamb(s) in a lamb box to get/keep them warm, give them a dose of lamb reviver and a shot of the antibiotics we’ve been given today and then hope. This is all complicated by the fact that the last to lamb is a shearling so anything could happen! It’s nearly over, we’re running out of energy, we need proper sleep, we need to stop worrying and we need to start focusing on the lambs that we do have because they are all little stunners. But right now it’s hard and right now I don’t ever want to do this again.