Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lambs Born on St Patricks Day

March 17 was St Patrick's Day and the day Patsy sheep finally had her lambs. Patsy is an unusual looking sheep, she is part Jacob, part Barbado, she use to have 5 horns but knocked one off leaving her with 4. She is part wool sheep, part hair, so she sheds – sort of.

Three other ewes had their lambs last week, when the weather was good, but a nasty storm had blown in a few days earlier, dumping new snow and sending temperatures well below freezing. At night the moms with lambs are in a stall in the barn, the other sheep are loose in the rest of the barn, and I would let them outside for the day, while leaving the moms and new lambs in the barn. 

I knew Pasty was due any day, but in the morning she was eager to go outside.  She ate her oats and then snuck away as I was putting hay out. I noticed her standing in a shed to the back of the pasture. Sheep are herd animals, they do not go off on their own except for when they are lambing. I had to bribe her (with oats) to get her back into the barn because at -15 celsius it was much too cold to have lambs in a three sided shed.

I left the mom to be alone for a while going out to check on her a few times. At about 11:00 her amniotic sack was out (you can see it in the picture). I left her alone again, going back at noon. At noon I walked into the barn, Patsy was standing near the back of the barn was having contractions, her head was held up and she was straining. Having seen ewes give birth before I noted she looked to be having a harder time of it, so I turned to latch the barn door shut behind myself so I could get a closer look, but in the moment it took to latch the door, by the time I turned around her lamb was out!

Patsy stood up, turned around, and started cleaning off her lamb right away. I waited at the far end of t the barn for a few minutes. Her location at the back of the barn was not great, there is a gap around the back door which let in a cold draft so I wanted to move her, and her wet lamb, to a drier stall. I picked up the lamb and carried him to the stall and Patsy followed. I gave him a quick drying but mostly left the rest up to Patsy and I went back to the house.

I returned an hour later (bringing water with me as we do not have running water in the barn) and as expected she had an other lamb with her. The second lamb was larger, and white. Although Patsy has had lambs before I think this was her first solid white lamb, most have been spotted like her.  The brown lamb does have white spots on his side.  Both lambs are male, ram lambs.

After another three hours her placenta was shed, I picked it up and took it to a place away from the barn area where I know ravens will come and gobble it up, and then added new dry straw to the stall. 

All sheep are doing well and hopefully the weather will improve.  

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Other Reading

My Husband's Account of the Lambing  - with some information on lambing in general

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