Tag Archives: lambing

Welcome to the World, Baby!

Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 by Sarah

Warning: I talk about bodily fluids in this post. It’s natural, but not necessarily pretty. You’ve been warned.

Who wouldn't love seeing these faces everyday?

Who wouldn’t love seeing these faces everyday?

 

Sunday afternoon I was at home, two hours away from Guelph. I had been out with my friends all weekend and I was tired and ready to get home and rest. My plan was to leave at 1:00pm. 12:45 rolls around and my car is packed. I was ready.

But as per usual on the farm, my plans changed.

Mom had just left to go away for a week and my dad and brother were planning on going to London for the afternoon to see a London Knights playoff game (Go Knights Go!). But March is the time when lambs are born, and as with any pregnancy – when its time its time. Dad had made a few trips to the barn already that morning, and it was time. We were about to get a new baby lamb. I was tasked with staying home for a little longer, and making sure everything went smoothly.

The signs were all there; she didn’t eat her breakfast, she was restless and she was keeping her distance from the rest of the sheep. Now usually, sheep have little to no problems when they lamb. You can leave for a half an hour and come back to a few fresh faces in the barn. We don’t often like to interfere, and I’m sure the sheep like to be left alone during this time (I wouldn’t want onlookers during this either!).

Welcome baby!

Welcome baby!

Unfortunately, this time an easy birth wasn’t in her cards. By 2:30pm the she was pawing, panting, lying down and getting up and generally looking more and more uncomfortable. This is when I decided it was time to lend a hand. And that’s exactly what I needed to do.

Normally, when a lamb is born, its two front feet will come out first with its head between its legs. This time the lamb was “supermanning” as I like to call it. One foot out straight, then a head, then a second foot tucked back. If a lamb is positioned like this inside the ewe, the chances of someone getting hurt during the lambing process is really high.

I’ve never been to vet school, the closest I have come is taking an “Animal Structures” course at school which I dropped after the first midterm because it would have been a guaranteed fail. But I’ve been in the barn hundreds of times during lambing, and I’ve learned how to help.

I had the barn supervisor there to help me!

I had the barn supervisor, Harley,  there to help me!

Helping a ewe lamb definitely isn’t pretty, as with any pregnancy there’s blood and a lot of “goo”. That’s a nice name for it. If the lamb is positioned incorrectly, as this one was, it has to be re positioned and that can’t be done from the outside. I had to find the other leg and pull it forward. Off came the rings, up went the sleeves and inside I go (yeah, in THERE).

I can’t tell you how many times I told the sheep “I’m sorry girl” or “We’ve almost got it”. It took me longer than I was planning on, but I couldn’t exactly see what I was reaching for. Not to mention the ewe was unable to stay still, which I can’t blame her for. Somebody poking around inside me wouldn’t be the most comfortable thing in the world. It was a tough, dirty, uncomfortable job. I almost had myself convinced that this lamb only had one leg, because I thought I searched everywhere. But then I felt those tiny little toes. I finally found the other leg, and was able to pull it forward. I was wet, shaking and almost in tears because I knew the ewe was in pain and I wanted it to be over for her.

It almost was. One more big push and out came the lamb, a little ram lamb. We were both ready for it. I picked up the lamb and cleaned off its face so it could breathe, then I put him at the moms nose. The ewe started to lick the lamb off (this is a bonding process for both the lamb and mom) and she hopped right up as if she just came in from outside.

Momma and babies are up and ready to go!

Momma and babies are up and ready to go!

Within 15 minutes, she had a second lamb (another boy!). This time there were no complications.

I’m happy to report that all are alive and well. See for yourself!

 

New Lambs on the Ground

Posted on Friday, April 12, 2013 by Sarah

When lambing season comes on our farm, it is all hands on deck.  Lambing season is a month-long period when all are ewes are having their lambs. It can be a hectic time on the farm, filled with late nights, early mornings and many, many trips to the barn.

A typical day starts with someone (and I’ll admit it’s usually my dad) getting up at 6a.m to go to the barn and make sure that if any lambs had been born through the night, that they are content in their surroundings and healthy.

We take the lambs and their mothers and put them in a pen by themselves so they can bond and have their own space so the lamb can learn to eat, walk and get to know what their mother smells like.

Knowing their mother’s smell is important because when they are turned in with other lambs and ewes they need to know who their mother is. Lastly we give them a shot of Nutri-Drench or “Wonder Juice” as we call it on our farm. It’s a liquid molasses mixture filled with all sorts of vitamins and minerals, it really works wonders on the lambs, hence the name! The lamb should be up and trying to drink within ten minutes.

  

Their first steps are always a bit shaky, but they get the hang of it in no time. This picture was taken about 10 minutes after he was born.

We also check that there are no ewes giving birth then, if they are then we’ll usually help with the birth (called “pulling”). Pulling a lamb doesn’t hurt the mother; it just speeds up the process. This also allows us to check and make sure there are no complications with the birthing process. Just like in humans, lambs can be positioned incorrectly inside the mother, which means they need a little bit of help.

Lastly, you take a look for and ewes that look like they will lamb soon, there are a few signs we look for when doing this. If she stop eating, or is off in a corner by herself, or even her skin colour can get brighter pink. These animals are the ones that we watch when we come to the barn in the future.

Once everyone is content we go on with our day but be sure to check the barn every few hours even in the middle of the night. It means long days on the farm when the lambs come, but completely worth it, especially when you see how cute they are! J