Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Second Lambs of 2010

The second set of lambs arrived this morning!  Another set of twins, giving us 4 lambs in 2 days!  Today's pair was an 8 lb 5 oz ram lamb, and a 4 lb 11 oz tiny ewe lamb.  Upon arriving in the barn this morning, it was clear that Sloan was ready to give birth.  You can see in the picture below the large fluid bag indicating that labour was well underway.

I rushed back to the house to put on my coveralls and grab the lambing supplies.  Of course, I also grabbed the camera.  It didn't take long before a little hoof was visible. See right in the middle of the photo there is a little white diagonal blob?  That's a hoof!
I was glad to see it was in the correct orientation, so the baby was facing the right way, but I worried why I could only see one hoof.  Fortunately, the other hoof soon appeared.

After the second hoof, there was a bit of a pause.  Kelly and our barn cat, Esmeralda, looked on with interest.  (she climbs up there all by herself)

There was a lot of really intense pushing going on...
...but soon enough, a handsome ram lamb appeared.  It's hard to see in the pictures, but he actually has light brown "socks" on, and if you look at the fur on his "ankles" and separate it, it's jet black underneath.
How interesting!  That seems to suggest he carries the coloured genetics that we would like to perpetuate.  His father, Craigsley, carries the coloured trait too, so I'm pleased to see that it was passed along.
Sloan immediately took to cleaning off her young son, and we wondered if she was finished, but she had looked a bit too wide to just have a single lamb.  Sure enough, a new fluid sac appeared, indicating another birth was soon to follow.
Unfortunately, the ram lamb was not very quick to get up, although he tried valiantly at first.  It was cold in the barn, and we could see him start to shiver.
This shivering progressed quickly, and he wasn't trying to get up any more. Meanwhile, the tiniest little ewe lamb that I have ever seen was quickly born.
At first, I thought she was stillborn.  Our little "squeeze bulb" device for removing mucus from the nose and mouth was in the barn overnight and it was essentially useless because it was so cold, it was basically impossible to squeeze.  I cleaned out her nose and mouth as best as I could, and finally she lurched to life.  My relief was short lived because she could not stand, and she was soon shivering as well.  Mom was doing a great job at licking them clean, but neither lamb was getting up to nurse.

We put Sloan onto the shearing stand and tied one leg to the stand.  She did NOT want to be milked, so tying her leg to the stand was the only way to milk out the colostrum for the lambs.  I got as much as I could, then took it inside in a bottle along with the two lambs.  When lambs get cold, they end up with hypothermia which results in them losing the instinct to suck.  Even after nearly an hour of using the blow dryer to warm these two up, neither of them had warm mouths (if the inside of the mouth is cold, it's a sign of hypothermia).  Finally, the ram lamb stopped his violent shivering and began to open his eyes.

He took the bottle and began to suck, which was a huge success after such a long time.  It was a weak response, but at least he was finally taking in some of the essential colostrum that is full of antibodies and nutrients for the newborn lambs.  I had to work with the ewe lamb for another hour or so before she finally began to show signs of life, and eventually she too, took some colostrum, but not nearly as much as her brother.  She was placed in a box with a blanket, in a sunny spot, to keep her warm.
I took some more time to milk Sloan again and gave both lambs some more nutrition a little later on.  I put the ram lamb in a coat and he went back out to Sloan.  So far, he seems to be doing well.  He's been nursing and bonding with her really well.  I would have loved to put the little ewe out there as well, but sadly, she was still unable to stand.  In fact, she just stood for the first time, for about 3 minutes, at around 6 pm.  That's about 11 hours since her birth.  There is no point to putting a lamb with the mother if the lamb can't stand up to nurse.

So, now there are two ewe lambs in the house - one from yesterday and one from today.  Yesterday's smaller ewe did not end up nursing at all, so she had to come inside.  She is to the left, the new tiny one is to the right.
To be honest, I'm not sure if today's little ewe will make it.  She's very tiny, and apparently quite frail.  She has had an oral vitamin supplement and the colostrum, but she's still really weak and not able to stand for long.  Yesterday's ewe lamb, on the other hand, is doing remarkably well, and is incredibly loud.  Persistently, constantly, loud.  In fact, she sort of sounds like a kazoo on legs.  Really.  And last night, that didn't make for a very restful sleep.  In fact, the ONLY way she would shut up, was to lay her next to me, which I confess that I did, because I needed to sleep.  Even then, she was only quiet for about an hour, and she'd start up all over again. I'm hoping that because there are two of them now, maybe they will keep each other company for the next few days while they are in the house gaining strength.  I want to put them back into the barn with the other lambs as soon as possible, so that they can have a "sheepy" upbringing.  I can still bottle feed them in the barn, but that way they can play with the other lambs and have a relatively normal existence with the other sheep.
If the tiny ewe survives, I will not put her out in the barn until she can walk confidently and make her way without always falling down.  It would not be fair to do otherwise.  However, here are some pictures of her a short while ago with yesterday's ewe lamb, both standing and exploring a little.

Keep your fingers crossed for both of them - they've had rough beginnings!


Alison said...

Oh it common to have such a high proportion of weak lambs? I hope your lambing season is like the March saying: in like a lion('s share of work), out like a (big, healthy, bouncing) lamb!

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Thanks so much for the terrific labor photo's, all the photo's. You're doing a great job Claire. They'd be in the bed with me too if they needed me. Hope your little amuse-bouche starts getting stronger.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

and thank you, but we don't go through Iowa to get to Sedalia. From NC, a lot of TN, then Kentucky, and lots of MO. Come to Sedalia for the AGS show.

Deb said...

I hope both your little ewes get stronger every day - Not sure what you are doing with them at night but I found putting them in a small dog crate, closing the door with hay in a dark, quiet place at night helped them to sleep better and longer. Our only bottle lamb did this for three weeks before he moved back outside.

If they don't make it, it's certainly won't be because you didn't do all you could possibly do. They are lucky to have you :)

Ebonwald Cardigans said...

oh GOSH! Could ANYONE have an uneventful BFL lambing this year please? Between you, myself, Tru and Carol at CrossWind, none of us have had good goings thus far.

I'm really surprised Sloan had such small lambs. She must be way over conditioned and hogging all the nutrients?

Also interesting that the lambs took so long to get up. Fingers crossed they ALL make it. I lost my little ewe lamb last night. A natural colored one :(

Carol said...

Claire...two years ago we had one triplet that was 4 pounds. Found her barely shivering in a dark corner of the stall. I pulled her through but it was slow at first. She lived 5 months and was a real joy (and quite a bit of work).

Here is a link to the blog post about her and some pics:

She was the smallest of the bunch but definitely the loudest!

Unknown said...

What a size difference in the two. I love the diapers on them!! Our goat just kidded twins and I couldn't imagine having them inside they are all over the place! Very sweet and I love how great the photos were.

Jennifer said...

They are beautiful and I hope they both continue to get stronger.

IsobelleGoLightly said...

You're such a good sheep mom! I think "Kazoo" is a great name for a sheep! hee hee hee

Melodie said...

Oh, my fingers are crossed! I hope they both make it and start to thrive!

Meagan said...

Thanks for sharing these pictures! I'm becoming a shepherd in a few weeks and I'm not sure if the lambs will be born before or after then, so reading and seeing photos of lambing is helping me to become aware of what to do if things go wrong. Luckily my sheep are Shetlands and the pregnant ewes are experienced mothers so there shouldn't be too much problems, then again the quality of hay here in Ontario was quite low this year so perhaps that will influence the lamb sizes.

Becky Utecht said...

I hope your little ewe lamb makes it, you're certainly doing all you can for her. I've found that the BFL lambs tend to sleep a lot more than the Shetland lambs in the first few days. Usually they're bigger and have the fat reserves necessary to see them through the first few days with less nursing. But if you think you lambs are overly sluggish, maybe you might want to give BoSe shots at birth?

Unknown said...

send the sheep to us. join us.


Mare said...

Thank you Claire for sharing the pictures and your experience with us. I LOVE reading about the babies and must admit i am already praying and sending Reiki to the little ones..Please keep us updated when you get a chance?

sunset pines farm said...

oh goodness!!!! so precious!!!
And, you are now up to two house babies-I am sending positive thoughts your way and keeping my fingers crossed that the babies all make it, especially the tiny one.
Are we going to hear names any time soon?

Lola Nova said...

Oh my, you do have your hands full don't you. I am sending good thoughts to your wee lambs as well as you, I'm sure you could do with a little rest.
They are so sweet looking and you take such wonderful care of them.

Mom L said...

Congratulations again - and Leslie is still holding out? I really want to cuddle one of the babies - wish I could take care of a lamb for you. You are amazing!


Holly said...

4 pounds 11 ounces is so tiny I can't even imagine how little that is despite the photos. We use to have some 4-H sheep two of the ewes were soffolk, a mother and daughter who averaged each - between 24 to 36 pounds worth of lambs every year depending on whether they were triplets or twins. They were very large ewes. Thinking back the lambs seemed tiny but 4 pounds 11 ounces is minature. I hope the two house babies make it. You can't help but root for the underdogs.

Christy said...

Wow, you've had a rought few days. I sure hope they both gain enough strength to go outside soon.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are doing a great job and giving them all they need. Now it is up to them. We had a 2 lb. 5 oz. ewe lamb a few years ago - she was so tiny. I had a neighbor that wanted a bottle lamb and was very excited to take on the challenge. The lamb didn't stand for 2 days! She can still be seen running around the pasture :) Good luck and I will think good thoughts for the next lambs to come.

Claire MW said...

Flartus - not especially common, no. I'm hoping that will be the end of it, but one never knows. It's been hard to get good hay this year in this area. Nutrition may play a role.

Deb - we have the bottle lambs in the home office now. They were just too noisy in the bedroom. Now we all sleep better, I hope!

Garrett - I really think it may have been the stress of the move and the change in feed, combined with some less than perfect hay this winter, which led to Sloan's tiny lamb. :-(

Becky - all the lambs are getting their BoSe shots at birth, and any that don't get colostrum get the CDT right away too.

Mare - thank you for your kind thoughts - these little lambs need all the help they can get. Reiki is a perfect fit with my philosophies!

Polly - still working on names!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Poor you (or is that Ewe?) for having to go through such a worrying stressful time. I suppose that's what comes with sheep breeding/lambing, but having to be foster mom to lambs must be exhausting.

Hang in there. They do grow up fast. :)