Nine Days In

This is when lambing season starts to take it’s toll. Everything has been going OK, but there is starting to be some sleep deficit. Thank goodness that during the two days I was driving to the Bay Area to teach classes it was slow here.

Yesterday started just after midnight when Mable’s lambs were born. All OK. I think I didn’t go back out until just after 6 a.m. and Sophia had new twins.  They seemed fine although I had a little trouble making sure they nursed OK. The answer for that was to go back to the house to eat breakfast and then the “problem” lamb was ready to eat.

Mary came out to help and that help is so appreciated. We were completely backed up in the lambing jugs and the alleyway of the lambing area. (I think that’s like when you see on TV shows the gurneys with patients lined up in the hall of the hospital.) So the first thing to do was to  start moving sheep around in the cycle from lambing jug to group pen for a few days to mom and baby part of the barn and field which hadn’t been set up yet. We worked on that at the same time as watching Lana in labor.DSC_6236Lana had a very pretty lilac ewe lamb. Eventually, after it seemed things were taking a long time, I checked and found another lamb, pulled it, and spent about twenty minutes trying to make it live. I don’t know if it was doomed from the start or aspirated fluid during birth, but it could never get a good enough breath and it died.  DSC_6241In the meantime Raquel was in labor. I have been in touch with some students at the UC Davis vet school who are interested in coming out for some hands-on practice. It’s been difficult to coordinate their schedules with sheep lambing, but they were able to come out then for a couple of hours. Unfortunately Raquel didn’t lamb while they were here but they did do some ear tagging, tail banding…IMG_9395…and they listened to the normal and the not-as-healthy lungs of these twins, one of whom has been getting penicillin because he almost died from pneumonia following a difficult birth (in this post).DSC_6252We finally got the ewes with the first lambs out on the pasture. Can you tell where all the mom’s food is going now?DSC_6253After getting the ewe through the end of pregnancy and then lambing in good health, the next challenge is keeping an eye on the udder health. As the milk is coming in (the lesser amount of colostrum giving way to a greater quantity of milk) the udder may become engorged. If there is tenderness and the ewe doesn’t let the lambs nurse on one side it becomes a vicious cycle. Sore udder and teat…no nursing…more milk backing up…udder more full and sore. This can eventually lead to mastitis which, if not treated, can ultimately kill the ewe or at least ruin her udder.DSC_6257Walking back to the house I noticed Mae standing like this. “Lameness” in a ewe who in nursing lambs may have nothing to do with the feet at all, but be because her udder is full and painful.DSC_6261I went out to get her and bring her to the barn. I am amused by her response to me approaching.DSC_6262This is why. Her lambs are hidden in the grass.DSC_6268This is how Mae looked walking back to the barn.IMG_9404This is from the front.  I tied her to the fence and milked the one side, taking 7.5 ounces.IMG_9412Then it looked and felt balanced.  I milked her again this morning. There was another ewe in a similar situation and I had to milk her a couple of times. I have to remember to be watching for that over the next few weeks as these ewes lamb.IMG_9414We set up the creep for the lambs. They can get through the narrow slots on that panel. The ewes aren’t always happy that their babies can go somewhere that they can’t follow.IMG_9422These are BFL-X lambs born the night before.IMG_9420The last lambing of the day was Raquel. After the vet students had left and I had finished working outside I finally went to the house. I went back to the barn to check and these lambs had been born. It wasn’t until later at the last check around midnight that I realized that Raquel didn’t want one of them. But that is another story.



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