Every year I offer a Sheep Handling and Management class that occurs sometime during lambing season. This year the timing was lucky! We had twins born in the morning before the class started and a ewe started lambing during class. During the discussion about other aspects of raising sheep we kept an eye on Zinnia, the ewe who was lambing. When she got more serious we watched. One thing of note was the presence of two bags, each a different color. A lot of time I just see membranes that have broken so I wouldn’t know if it were one or two, but it seemed unusual to see two distinct bags. I saw a bit of a small foot emerging but the whole thing seemed to be taking awhile so I thought I’d check. There was one foot and a head. Not very far back was another head. Both lambs were coming at the same time, and it was obvious from the two sacs that one had meconium staining, a sign of fetal distress. I pushed the second lamb back and was able to pull the first lamb with just the head and one foot. I could tell that it was very small. Usually it takes a little while for the second to come, but it was right there too. Weighing these later, they were 4.8 and 4.2 pounds.
Both lambs were alive. The second lamb acted unusual. Most lambs start trying to get up within minutes of birth but there is a normal sequence that I have a hard time describing. It’s just something that I’ve seen many times. (If you go to my YouTube channel and look at lambing videos you’ll see this.) The second lamb was noisy, baaing constantly and sort of scrabbling with it’s feet. It seemed frantic as opposed to a more methodical attempt to stand.
You can’t rush a lamb to be ready to nurse. I didn’t know if something was wrong with this one, but I knew that, even if it was normal, it needed a little more time. We went outside and looked at the fences and the pasture. When we came back in the first lamb was doing fine. The second still wasn’t able to stand but I could hold it up and get it to nurse.
We kept checking back and eventually the second lamb was on it’s feet. This photo was taken later in the day. Later that afternoon a friend of mine came with another friend to take photos of the lambs. That’s Raquel with triplet ram lambs.
The three of us spent time in the pasture photographing lambs before we came in to go out to dinner.
Here is the tiny lamb from the morning.
This was getting close to the end of lambing. Here are those two tiny lambs 12 days later and here is their listing on the website.
October 1 – breeding season starts. Count 148 days more or less and there will be lambs. I know where I’ll be February 26. Farm Club came to help sort sheep.
There were four breeding groups to sort–ewes that would go to three Jacob rams and Peyton, the BFL. There is also a non-breeding group. I juggled which ewe lambs to not breed–I want to have some to show next spring (maybe take to MSWF to sell?) and to show at State Fair. I debated which ewes to put with Peyton. Obviously those won’t produce purebred Jacob lambs, but the crossbred lambs grow fast and are valuable for market lambs.
We got the rams out and trimmed their feet.
We got the marking harnesses ready. I use the same color in all of the harnesses. The breeding groups are all in separate places so I’m not trying to sort which ram bred which ewes. If they were all together I’d have fighting rams and still wouldn’t know the sires because there would be multiple breedings. I will change the color in about two weeks. Then I’ll know that all the blue marks are from the first two weeks of breeding and if the ewes are marked with the next color they were bred in the next two weeks.
This is ewe lamb, Hollyhock. The dirty face and dirty wool is a result of the tall dallisgrass that is now sticky. As a result the sheep are covered with dirt and with dallisgrass seeds.
I this opportunity to take close-up photos of the ewe lambs that I need to register.
Here is the main event. Rams working working overtime with their mouths open and tongues out. Uh, Peyton, that’s a wether.
The ewes that are in heat will hang around the ram. Sheena and Shelby were the two who were interested in Catalyst. If Catalyst showed interest in one the other started beating him up.
This gives new meaning to Fall Colors.