Last Lamb and Lost Lamb

Wow, so much has happened the past week and I haven't had time to blog about it!

Our lambing season officially ended around midnight on Mother's Day when Ginger delivered this little black gulmoget ewe lamb.
I was falling asleep on the couch and in my pajamas when I remembered I hadn't closed off the ewe's back gate. So I went out with the flashlight to close it and also check on Ginger, our last pregnant ewe.  To be honest, she looked so small Sunday morning before I headed out to Shepherd's Harvest for the day, I was wondering if she was still pregnant. 

Anyway, there she was laying in the lambing corner of the pole barn and I thought I noticed her have a contraction. Nothing was showing and it took quite a while before more contractions came and I knew our last lamb was on its way.  Back into the house to get into my sweats, find the lambing bucket and the camera!

More contractions, no water bag, just some blood.  Oh-oh. I remembered the evening that Ginger was born and her mom was taking a very long time of it.  The vet told me not to worry unless I was seeing blood.  So I sat with Ginger as her labor progressed, worried about the blood and worried that the lamb maybe a premie.  Finally a small water bag emerged and burst and a dark hoof appeared followed by a dark nose.  I tried to find the other leg, but no luck, things were tight. I knew from experience that one leg back is a doable birth so we just went with the flow.  After many contractions and me pulling, a vigorous ewe lamb emerged. I was glad to see that it was a gulmoget as that proves the sire was Hansel, not the BFL or the Dorset cross ram that had joined the ewe flock for a couple weeks last winter. Yeah!

Ginger is an excellent mom, she was tired and didn't get up right away, but she eagerly licked off her good sized lamb and let her nurse. Shetlands are so easy! Finally I was crawling into bed about 12.30 a.m.
I'm not sure why there was so much blood during the birth, but all seems well. And that lamb is adorable.
On a sad note, one of Freya's twins died on Tuesday morning. She was exactly 4 weeks old. She looked just like Ginger's lamb so it is bittersweet to see Ginger's lamb out in the pasture. The photo above was taken on Monday afternoon.  You can see that she became much smaller than her twin sister who is healthy.  I noticed that she wasn't running in the lamb races last week, and she would be off by herself a lot and also lay down a lot.  But she would perk up and run away when I came close to check on her -- I don't know why my black gullies always seem so stand-offish while the other lambs are so tame. 

I was super busy getting ready for Shepherd's Harvest and didn't treat her because she stretched normally when she got up.  But on Saturday night when I got home from a long day at Shepherd's Harvest, she was clearly very sick. She didn' move when I picked her up, her eyes were dull, and she felt warm. I gave her everything in my arsenal of treatments. I wanted to cover all the bases since I would be gone again all day Sunday. She got an antibiotic, a wormer, fortified vitamin B, a CDT shot, and some Nutridrench.  She was up and drinking water within an hour and at her mom's side trying to nurse. 

Sunday she walked around some, but still wasn't running and darting like the other lambs. Monday she was due for a repeat antibiotic so I called the vet and decided to try some BoSe in case we were dealing with a mineral deficiency. She ran pretty good when I tried to catch her to do the shots.  But afterward she looked even worse. The next morning she was dead with her mom at her side. I wondered if it was the BoSe.

I couldn't afford to pay for a necropsy at the vet ($70-$100), so Stan and I did it ourselves. We followed the directions in Ron Parker's The Sheep Book. It appears to me that she had an impacted intestine which was followed by pnuemonia. I don't think there was anything we could have done to save her short of surgery. I feel so much better having gone inside to see what was going on instead of wondering about it forever.

So lambing is over and we still have 14 lambs. Sommarang Hansel's lambs were all gulmogets, isn't that amazing? There were 6 ewe lambs and 1 ram lamb. We have all 7 of the Bluefaced Leicester lambs sired by Ward Harwell, 4 ewes, 3 rams, and one crossbred ram lamb (twin died at birth) sired by him.  Now it's time to clean out the barn!


  1. Happy for your new healthy lamb, but sad that you had to lose a lamb too. Good for you for being so attentive that you noticed the sick lamb's distress right away.

  2. Hansel sired 100% gullies? Wow; is he At/At?

    So sorry about the little twin; such a sad loss.

  3. Michelle, Hansel is At/Aa. He sired some solid lambs for Meghan and Karen this year too. Three of the 6 ewes I bred him to were gulmogets so that increased the odds of gulmoget lambs. Their lambs could possibly At/At. That includes one mioget ram with tiny chocolate chips, Freya's remaining twin and another ewe lamb out of an Ag gully. I don't think her lamb is Ag, but I'm not positive yet. There are also modified genetics in the line.

  4. Sorry to hear about the lamb. I have a friend who has triplet ram lambs and the ewe only had milk on one side. Well the most vigorous bottle drinker didn't eat and won't eat any more, he won't play with other lambs and is just going rapidly down hill. She got her vet out and the lamb has a bad heart. She'll have to put him down as the bigger he gets the more stress it will be on his heart. I wonder if that is what was wrong with your lamb. It is sad to lose such little guys though.

  5. Thanks Laura, I wouldn't know how to tell if the heart was bad, it looked fine to me, but that's not saying much. I called Pipestone Vets this afternoon and their first guess was that the lamb wasn't getting enough milk and had slowly starved to death. But I don't think that was the case because she had a nice layer of yellow fat under the skin and her mom's udder is very lopsided today. I knew we should have opened up the stomach to check the contents! We froze it so I suppose we could thaw it out and look. And I took photos too. As far as my theory about pneumonia, both vets said the discoloration of the lungs we saw was normal for that length of time after death. So the only thing that stood out to me was the hardpacked areas of intestine and the secum. I'll just chalk this up to a learning experience and hope it will serve me in the future.

  6. Your last lamb is a beauty! Good job on the necropsy. It's so much better to have some answers to explain a death. Great shepherding. That Ron Parker book is invaluable!


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