Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Lambs Born

There was lots going on yesterday, and by evening I had a headache, so I skipped writing a post and went straight to my barn bed instead.

Yesterday afternoon, two ewes gave birth within an hour of each other. First, Sarah had her lamb by Taj. She's a first time mom, so I was there ready to help if necessary. The lamb was positioned right so I thought maybe she could do the birth unassisted. But she lay down in such a way that every time she had a contraction, the lambs legs were getting rubbed hard against the edge of a concrete block that is in the back of the pen, holding up the temporary wall panel.

I didn't want the lambs legs to be scraped raw before the poor thing even had a chance to be born, so I got in the pen to help. It was then I realized how big those lamb legs were, and how tightly stuck the lamb was.

I got my trusty lamb puller, which is a hollow plastic handle with a smooth cable snare running out of it. You place the "Y" of the handle under the protruding lamb legs, then use your fingers to push the snare up inside the ewe until it loops over the back of the lamb's head. Then you pull the snare loop tight and pull the lamb out without yanking his legs or choking his throat.

I love my lamb puller, it's the best tool I have. Because it works by exerting pressure on the actual part of the lamb that is stuck, it is far more effective than if I just pulled on the lamb's legs by hand.

Anyway, I pushed the lamb snare inside Sarah---where, oh where, is the back of the lamb's head? Did I get it? Nope, the snare slid back out. Try again, push it further until...

HOLY CRAP! This lamb has horn buds the size of a month-old lamb's! They have to be an inch and a half long already. Poor Sarah, no wonder she was having a hard time.

On the bright side, once I got the snare over those gigantic horn buds, there was no way it was sliding back off again until that lamb was out. So Sarah pushed and I pulled, and pretty soon out came a BIG white ram lamb.

After that, Sarah took over just fine and is turning out to be a very caring, attentive mother.

Even before that birth was done, I could see Persia over in her pen starting to look like she might be getting ready to go into labor too. That's the birth I've been waiting and waiting for, because it's a cross between Persia who has a phenomenal meat build and Nicholai who has superb parasite resistance. Those are the two qualities I'm trying hardest to select for in my flock, so I had high, high hopes for these lambs.

Last year, this same cross gave me a lovely, large spotted gray ewe lamb, but we were really hurting for money and I had more lamb buyers than lambs, so I reluctantly decided to sell her. I figured it would be just my luck if Persia didn't have any ewe lambs this year.

As she went into labor, I thought, "Oh please, oh please, have a moorit solid ewe lamb." I've been trying for 3 years to get a moorit solid daughter of Nicholai, and this year nearly all of his daughters have been white.

Sure enough, the first lamb to be born was a moorit solid ewe lamb, followed by a moorit solid ram lamb, both born as easy as could be. The ewe lamb will definitely be a keeper this time, and I'm thinking about maybe keeping the ram lamb as well.

Now I have 3 more ewes left to lamb, plus 4 yearling ewes who were supposedly bred, but aren't really showing much udder development, so I'm starting to guess they're not pregnant after all.

Hard to believe that lambing season will be winding down soon. It's been the day-and-night focus of my life all month!


Kris said...

Yay! Great to hear that you got just what you wanted in terms of lambs -- and a good night's sleep in your own bed isn't too far distant...

Anonymous said...

Hi Nancy!
Can I suggest a name for a lamb?
(I thought of a GREAT "U" name....)
"Undomiel" (To go w/ Urak-hai ala LOTR!
Just a suggestion!
(aka: ravenhorse @Horsetopia)

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Congratulations on Persia's moorit daughter! How awesome that you got what you'd hoped for! Thanks for the update. I enjoy reading your accounts of all of these lamb births. I'm learning so much about sheep from you.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm exhausted just reading about your day.

Eamon said...

The lambing season must be physically hard work. But great fun and very rewarding, I am sure, as well.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Congrats on that moorit ewe lamb. I know you have been waiting---maybe this year is working out to be a bit better than last ;-)