Tuesday, April 13, 2010

First lamb of 2010

Rhyn was in labor when I got off work last evening. Good thing for me that she chose to labor right in front of the barn cam.

It was grain feeding time, so all the ewes were inside at the feeders.  Rhyn took a few bites, laid down to push and got up for a few more bites.  I decided to watch from in the house.  Suddenly I thought I'd better go check for two hooves and a nose. By the time I got to the barn, a newborn natural colored BFL ewe lamb was sprawled out on the hay in the narrow walkway between the feeder and the wall of the pole barn. 

Rhyn was licking her like crazy.  No Shetland lamb has ever had a more attentive mom than that!  I wiped off her face and sat back to watch the new mother and baby.

I've not been very excited about lambing this year, but there's something very special about witnessing those first quiet, gentle moments of life and the bonding of mother and baby.

While all the other sheep were busily eating their grain, old Bramble Cordelia came over checked out the newcomer real good. The yearling ewe lambs were afraid to go past and they had to jump as high as they could to get past her.  Not wanting anyone to get hurt,  I moved the baby out of the walkway and into one end of the barn and I set up a panel to separate them from the flock.

Then I went back to house to watch for another lamb's arrival.  I was hoping for twins this year out of Rhyn, she seemed so big. But when none came, I clipped and dipped the cord in iodine and went to strip the wax plugs from Rhyn's teats. Again this year I had to get Stan's help in holding her still for that. I tried to help the lamb find the teat, but she resisted.  So I gave her a little bottle of the colostrum I had milked out and a supplement I keep on hand for the BFL lambs. 

All seemed well as I turned out the lights and I was confident the lamb would figure things out overnight.  I checked them on the barn cam during the night and they seemed to be doing fine.

But this morning the lamb was noisy and skinny, and Rhyn's bag seemed pretty sensitive. So Stan set up our new homemade headgate and we managed to get Rhyn locked in it. I am the first to admit I absolutely HATE having to milk out a ewe.  I have an Udderly EZ milker which I eventually employed, but I am just not good at milking sheep even with good equipment. And Rhyn wasn't too happy about it either. The lamb got another bottle of colostrum and I got very frustrated with the whole situation.  It really wasn't Rhyn's fault this time, it was that STUPID lamb's fault. 

I wrote about it on the BLU Board group this morning and got some very reassuring advice from longtime Shetland and BFL breeder Judy Colvin.  She said just stay out of there and don't bother relieving pressure on the mom's bag. And don't try to help that dumb lamb unless she's humped up.  Just let them be. So that's what I did.  I gave Rhyn a shot of Banamine just in case she had pain issues and I released her from the headgate which was making her pretty upset.

And now from the looks of things on the barn cam, the ewe lamb has figured it out! At least for one side of her bag - the sensitive side - it's completely shrunk up!  So the lamb is getting all that good colostrum.  Oh what a relief!  Suddenly the sun is out and the rain that fell overnight makes the grass look green.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, what a relief that she figured it out! :-) How much did she weigh? Congrats on the lamb!

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  2. Thanks Terri, I figured she was about ten pounds at birth, but I didn't weigh her until this morning and she was 13 pounds (at 36 hours old). I have to confess I didn't want to get my new lamb sling full of germs by putting a wet lamb in it.

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  3. That barn cam is wonderful. It saves sooo many trips to the barn. Wish we could get one to work here. I agree. Watching a new mom bond with a baby is such a joyful experience. Lambing can be such joy when all goes well.

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