Monday, April 21, 2008

The Lamb in the Bathtub

After two days, I think I may have finally solved the mystery.

You see, on Saturday my friend Heather and her mom came by for a farm visit. It was a beautiful sunny, breezy day filled with lilac blossoms and butterflies, and it was made even more special by the fact that my ewe Petra gave birth to two white ram lambs around midday, so our visitors got the chance to see brand new babies.

Both lambs were born unassisted, both were about the same size, both nursed early and got colostrum. But as the day went on, one of them began to fall behind. While Lamb #1, Uldor, was wobbling around after their mom in the lambing pen, Lamb #2, Uldis, would just lie in the corner. Petra didn't exactly reject Uldis, but she didn't help him either. When he tried to nurse, she'd just walk away without encouraging him.

I tried bottle feeding him a few times, trying to give him enough of a boost so that he could catch up with his brother, but that didn't help much. Yesterday, I tried taking his brother away entirely, so that Petra would have a chance to bond more closely with Uldis.

I wanted to take Uldor someplace where he would be safe and warm, but far enough away that Petra wouldn't hear him crying and try to find him, while ignoring Uldis. So Uldor spent most of the day lying on a fleecy dog bed placed in my bathtub (safe from marauding cats, and easy cleanup of the inevitable "accidents").

Every couple of hours, I'd bring Uldor back to nurse for a bit, and then take him away again. Each time, Uldis seemed perkier after having had a couple hours of his mom's undivided attention. I thought they were bonding. So last night, I left the trio together, thinking maybe my experiment had done the trick.

But this morning, there was Uldor hopping around the lambing pen, while Uldis was back huddled in his lonely corner.

I had one more idea, something that had caught my attention vaguely and settled into the back of my mind when I was trying to bottle feed Uldis the previous day.

I picked him up and stuck my finger in his mouth. Sure enough, one of his baby teeth was coming in pointy and SHARP! I stuck my finger in Uldor's mouth for comparison. No sharpness there.

I can't say that I blame Petra for preferring the twin who wasn't piercing her teat with a needle tooth every time he tried to nurse!

So, using an Emory board, I filed off the sharp point of Uldis's tooth. Now Uldor is in the bathtub again to give Petra a chance to bond with the new and improved Uldis.

With luck, that may be one more lambing problem solved.


Rhea said...

I'm going to start calling you Sherlock Nancy, Sheep Whisperer. I'm so impressed you solved the mystery and probably fixed the problem! Let us know how they do now. :o)

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

I'm so happy to have found your blog! Reading about the trials and tribulations of rearing lambs is absolutely fascinating! I will definitely visit again. Best, Jen