Foxy Lambing

After Bronagh lambed, Foxy was next.Foxy lambing-1                   That is Foxy lying down in the back.Foxy lambing-2                        I brought her into the barn about an hour after I first noticed her.Foxy lambing-3

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Foxy lambing-6                    She lambed about an hour later.Foxy lambing-7

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18051                         This is Foxy’s lamb at 6 days old.


Bronagh Lambing

While I’m working in the barn I often take photos of the lambing process–partly to amuse myself and partly to use as a resource when new sheep raisers ask about the lambing experience. It is useful to know how much time there is between seeing a ewe in labor and when lambs are born, time between deliveries of twins, time it takes for a lamb to start nursing. There are wide variations in these figures, but I like to be able to show a “real-life” scenario.

This is a ewe named Windy Acres Bronagh who lambed a week ago.Bronagh lambing-1                   I saw her at about 7 a.m. and knew that she was in labor. The first sign of labor is often just behavior. You have to know what normal behavior looks like to know when something is different. I spend a lot of time looking at my sheep.Bronagh lambing-2                   A more obvious sign is seeing the sac emerge when the ewe has contractions. Bronagh lambing-3                  The first lamb was born about 7:20 and I brought the lamb inside the barn.Bronagh lambing-4                   It sometimes takes much longer before the second lamb is born, but this one was coming within five minutes.Bronagh lambing-7

Bronagh lambing-8                     That’s the first lamb getting up within ten minutes of birth.



Bronagh lambing-10            Both lambs were nursing within a half hour.IMG_5464                 This is the lamb board. These lambs were #49 and 50.

18050-5                       This is one of the lambs one week later.

Lambs, Lambs, Lambs

Are we getting tired of lambing posts? It only happens this time of year.

IMG_5308               Do you remember this lamb from a couple of posts back? Trista had a 10+ pound lamb and then almost two hours later a 5 pound lamb. She didn’t want the little one and I struggled to get it to nurse. I ended up milking Trista and tube feeding the lamb colostrum. I left the lamb with Trista but she became increasingly less happy to have it around and more hostile.

The lamb wouldn’t suck on a bottle and I was getting very frustrated. It’s one thing to have to feed a lamb every four hours, but then when it doesn’t suck it’s maddening. You get the nipple in the mouth, the tongue hangs out the side and the precious colostrum goes everywhere. (This brings back frustration of trying to get Brown Swiss calves on a bottle. The Milking Shorthorns were fine, the Brown Swiss were not.)

A solution presented itself the next day.

IMG_5361                    I saw this in the barn. This lamb was standing hunched up like a lamb does when it doesn’t feel good. This view from the top down shows how large it’s belly is and it was tight as a drum. From previous experience I suspected intestinal atresia, a malformation of the digestive tract where the intestine is not complete. The lamb eats normally at first and then there is no where for the milk to go and this lamb was already over 24 hours old–it didn’t have long to live and was in great discomfort.

When a lamb dies if you put the fresh skin on an orphan lamb sometimes you can trick the mother into thinking that it is her baby.  I went to the house for my new knife (purchased for when I need to necropsy or skin something and the sharpest thing in the house has been a pocket knife). By the time I came back to the barn the lamb was dead.IMG_5310                In addition the lamb had stopped nursing so the ewe was at risk of mastitis as her udder filled, even though there was a remaining twin. One side had started to fill more and become uncomfortable. That starts a vicious cycle where the ewe won’t let the lamb nurse and that side of the udder gets worse and worse. This is a photo of milk from Trista, the orphan’s mom. I got over two cups of milk from the ewe with the baby who died.

The trick was going to be to get this lamb who had never nursed on her mom to nurse on this mom.

IMG_5364                  I made a little lamb jacket out of the skin by cutting a neck hole and leg holes. It’s kind of hard to tell if you don’t know that’s what you’re looking at. IMG_5365-2                 The new lamb was smaller than the one that died so this jacket was a little large. The mom wasn’t convinced at first that it was her baby, but she didn’t outright reject it. The lamb had eaten (been tube fed) just two hours before so it wasn’t hungry. But later that night it was hungry. It was on it’s feet and when I held the ewe still it nursed! 18028                  The next day the jacket was beginning to smell. The idea is that at first the mom smells her baby and eventually gets used to the new lamb smell. So our transition was original lamb smell mingled with new lamb smell, new lamb smell mingled with dead smell, all new lamb smell. I had cut a portion of the skin off to get more of the new lamb smell and because I wanted the lamb to be able to adjust to the cold when the second skin came off.  But this skin jacket was so big that at that point it got tangled up and I took it off.

I kept the ewe and the lambs in a pen for several days so that I could watch. The ewe slept with her lamb and not the new one. She would stomp when the lamb tried to nurse but if I went in the pen she resigned herself to it (almost rolling her eyes) and stood there.

Mae-18028              We have success. I haven’t had to hold the ewe for a few days while they have been in a group pen. They will go out tomorrow and I’ll keep an eye on them. But I think the baby has a new mama.



More Lambing

I’m going to backtrack chronologically. I thought I had some other photos from lambing but I must be sleep deprived because I forgot that they were still on my phone. As I said in one of the other blog posts, the first lamb was born the day after I got back from Texas.

But here is what greeted me in the morning when I went to the barn.Cayenne fighting                  This is Cayenne…Serrano fighting                  …and this is Serrano. Yearling rams trying to figure out who is boss. I think most of the blood came from a fifth horn that was behind Serrano’s lower horn–that horn is gone now.  I’m not sure who won. Neither of them seemed to be feeling very good for a day or two.

This is Jane’s lamb that was born on February 22, the first day of lambing.

DSC_8020                The last post  ended with a storm. But the weather changed to cold but sunny. Time to get the sheep out in the field.estelle               Estelle and lambs.

DSC_7968                  Ht Lips and her triplets plus an extra.Hot Lips-18002

Fandango-18035                   Back in the barn lambing has continued at quite a clip. This is Fandango and her BFL-cross lamb.18039-18040                    Vixen’s twins.

IMG_5376                                             There are plenty of lambs to cuddle.



IMG_5387                        Here is the lambing count a week ago. IMG_5405                 My bike set up on a trainer in the house. The only use it is getting right now is as a sock drying rack right.


Last Week in the Barn

Lambing is about 2/3 of the way through. Here are some photos from last week. It’s hard to imagine the stormy weather that came in on Wednesday and Thursday after yesterday’s warm sun.

DSC_7920                 Farm Club members have come on some of the days to help with the endless chores. A favorite part of their day is Lamb Cuddling.18001                This is the first lamb born way back on February 22.IMG_5296                  Wednesday was quite a day with five sets of twins born. There was a Fibershed Ag Coop Board meeting at noon, but the representative photo for that would just be Stephany and me on the phone for two hours. But the main event was not lambing or the meeting. Ben Hostetler of Mountain Meadow Wool came to speak to a gathering of Fibershed producers and other interested people and talk about value-added processing and how to figure out cost effectiveness, etc.IMG_5301                   We also looked at fleeces and discussed skirting and cleanliness of fleeces to be sent to the mill. Oh, and do you see that stack of alfalfa in the background of the first photo of Ben and the group? I had made a call to say DO NOT bring hay on Wednesday because there would be a lot of people and a storm is coming. The hay showed up on Wednesday and Dan got about half of it in the barn before people arrived for Ben’s talk. IMG_5308             Just before Ben’s talk Trista lambed with a large lamb. I kept watching for a twin during the presentation but nothing happened.  I was also watching another ewe and towards the end of his talk decided to check the status of that ewe. She had been in the lambing area all day acting like she was going to lamb. I probably jumped the gun on this one, but it was partly because I wondered if there was a problem and partly because a few of us had planned to go out to dinner with Ben.

IMG_5307                       I ended up pulling twins and all was OK although in hindsight I’m sure that this ewe did not need intervention, just more time. In the meantime while I was dealing with that ewe Trista popped out another lamb. This was almost two hours after the first and it was such a tiny thing that I’m not sure she even noticed. She did not want that lamb–that’s the small one in the photo under the heat lamp. By this time it was almost 6:00 and the rain was starting. A few of the people at the talk had stayed around to help. Dan and Ben brought the rest of the hay in under cover. I dealt with the cold, rejected lamb. I ended up tube feeding it colostrum because we could not get it up to suck even when we held Trista still. Ben and Dan helped with chores while Stephany went in to clean up the kitchen and order pizza and pasta to be delivered. That was really the best way to end the day because by then I didn’t want to go out anyway.  More about that lamb in a later post.

DSC_7938        Skipping ahead to the next day. Petra was the only ewe to lamb on Thursday.DSC_7942

IMG_5332              Isadora is one of the ewes who had lambed on Wednesday. By the next day I was worried about mastitis. She has a lumpy uneven udder from previous mastitis and it seemed to get hard again. I spent some time massaging and using warm compresses (easy with hot water in a disposable diaper). She didn’t developed mastitis so I think it was just the normal engorgement coupled with the hard, scarred areas from before that I was feeling.IMG_5349             Wednesday night through Thursday we had 1.8″ of rain after almost no rain in all of February.

IMG_5348            That’s all it takes for our place to look like this. IMG_5347




Dilly is not even a year old. She was born March 11, 2017. Most of the lambs (soon to be yearlings) won’t lamb until after most of the mature ewes have lambed. But Dilly didn’t waste time last October with the ram and she was the eighth ewe to lamb. I didn’t have a breeding date for her and she wasn’t even on my radar.Dilly-lamb-1                So I looked over the barn wall where I spy on the ewes and saw this. Yearlings aren’t always sure about what to do with a lamb and need a little time to let their instinct kick in. It is important that a young ewe has a chance to figure out that the lamb is hers and that she really does want it. You don’t want to interrupt that bonding time. However she can also be bullied or distracted by other ewes who are curious or close to lambing and will start to mother the lamb themselves.

Dilly-lamb-2                  I walked around the gate briefly to push the other ewes away and then backed off so that Dilly would approach her lamb again.Dilly-lamb-3                   I gave her some time and then slowly picked up the lamb and got her to follow it into the barn.

Dilly-lamb-5                        This lamb was only 4.6 pounds. The other Jacob lambs are more often 7 to 8 pounds or even more. Dilly-lamb-7                 It was stormy and cold so I put this little lamb coat on it for the night. However the coat was too big and got wet. By morning I took it off.DSC_7897             Dilly’s lamb at 2 days old. Farm Club members were here for part of the morning and asked me to name the lamb Dally.

Dilly-dally, from the Oxford Dictionary: Waste time through aimless wandering or indecision.

Dilly-dally, from the Urban Dictionary:  To mess around or waste time. Typically used by the very elderly.

I’ll go with definition #1.That part about the very elderly bothers me.

More Lambs

Sheena was one of four ewes to lamb on February 26.

Sheena            That is her pawing and looking restless during morning chores.Sheena lambing-1                 When she looked more as though she were in active labor I brought her into the barn. That was about 10:15.

Sheena lambing-4                At about noon the sac was visible.Sheena lambing-3             This view, taken about 2:00 shows how, as labor progresses, the sides are sunken in front of the hips. I had been waiting for Sheena to have her lambs before I went to town, but I finally decided to make a quick trip. When I came back at 3:00 she was lying down and pushing but I saw only the nose, which at that point looked somewhat swollen. When I felt for the lamb position, the feet were at about a 2:00 position instead of below the head and out in front. I pushed the lamb back so that I could make sure that the feet matched up to the right lamb, brought them around to the 6:00 position and then pulled the lamb easily.

Sheena lambing-6                 As soon as the lamb was out Sheena went to work.Sheena lambing-8                      The sac for the next lamb showed within a few minutes.                       Sheena lambing-17           Lamb #1 was on his feet within 8 minutes.

Sheena lambing-12               You can see this ram lamb’s horn buds.

Sheena lambing-18             Sheena barely noticed as she pushed out the second lamb about 15 minutes later.Sheena lambing-22                     Lamb #1 is mostly white.

Sheena lambing-24                    Lamb #2 has a lot of color and has lilac markings. Catalyst is the sire.18010                This is the first lamb two days later.18011                  Here is the second lamb.

Details are on the website.