So it was about 8pm last night and I decided it was time to walk through the lambing ewes and see if anybody was up to anything. I arrived to find a black faced Suffolk ewe with four new born lambs. Two were black and two were white. There was a problem with this, she hadn’t actually lambed, she’d just borrowed them.
A walk through the rest of the ewes produced a Leicester (They’re the ones with the Roman nose) who had lambed and was quietly ignoring everything that was going on. So I put the Leicester in one of the individual pens and tried to work out what on earth had been going on. She had been scanned for triplets, so was she about to produce a third? Certainly she didn’t want any of the four I could offer her.
Anyway I walked slowly and methodically through the rest of the ewes, nobody else had lambed. Therefore all four were hers. I was about convinced but she most certainly wasn’t. I tried her with the two black ones, whilst the Suffolk insisted on clutching the other pair to her bosom muttering ‘my precioussessss.’
Eventually we haltered her to stop her driving the lambs off and put all four in with her and left her to get on with it. She seems to have accepted them. At some point we’ll borrow two to put on ewes who only have a single lamb because there’s no way she’ll be able to feed them all.
But whilst I was looking round, I spotted a little Shearling who was starting to lamb. A shearling is a sheep who has been sheared once. As they’re never sheared in their first year when they’re lambs, it means she’s approaching two years old. She has a twin brother out there who is being kept as a tup. He is probably half as long again as her and taller. She was small but was certainly big enough to tup, because at this point we were expecting her to produce some sort of growth spurt (like her brother has done).
She’s obviously cut from a very different set of genes to her brother as she has remained determinedly small, so when it came to her lambing we were expecting issues.
One quick check and at ten to ten last night we phoned the vet to tell him we were on our way. We lifted the shearling into the back of the car and she went off for a cesarean. Just part of the ordinary working day for a large animal vet.
Just the follow up, the shearling’s lamb didn’t survive, she’s home and once the painkillers and anesthetic wears off we’ll foster another one onto her.
And of course, mildly miffed that the Leicester was grabbing all the glory, one of the Suffolks who was also scanned for triplets produces quads as well!
Trust me, there are four lambs in the picture somewhere