Wonderful stuff, genetics.




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


And trying to keep you in the picture


A review? Go on then
“Like the other two books in this series, Jim Webster gives us a perspective of farm life we may not have appreciated. Some of the facts given will come as a shock to non-farming readers, but they do need to be read. Having said that, there are plenty of humorous anecdotes to make the book an enjoyable read.”

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28 thoughts on “Wonderful stuff, genetics.

  1. oldhenwife March 24, 2018 at 11:07 am Reply

    … and … ?

    • jwebster2 March 24, 2018 at 11:26 am Reply

      I produced the update, our shearling lost her lamb but we’ll foster another onto her.

  2. xantilor March 24, 2018 at 11:15 am Reply

    I’m glad maternity wards aren’t quite so random in apportioning infants. I’d planned to take a felt pen with me to the hospital so I could sign my newborn in case she inadvertently got swapped for an inferior baby. In the event, she arrived two weeks early, so I had to keep a beady eye on her instead like the Suffolk. (The nurse put an identifying bracelet on her, but it kept falling off.)

    • jwebster2 March 24, 2018 at 11:39 am Reply

      To be fair, maternity wards don’t allow expectant mothers to wander in and just grab the baby they want as opposed to the baby they’re going to get 🙂

  3. oldhenwife March 24, 2018 at 11:28 am Reply

    But, xantilor, yours might have been swapped for a superior baby!

  4. xantilor March 24, 2018 at 11:32 am Reply

    Not possible. My daughter was clearly the best baby on the ward. She is now the best twenty-eight year old :o)

  5. patriciaruthsusan March 24, 2018 at 12:07 pm Reply

    That was one busy day. There were lambs coming thick and fast. 🙂 — Suzanne

  6. patriciaruthsusan March 24, 2018 at 12:08 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    It was raining lambs.

  7. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 24, 2018 at 12:32 pm Reply

    How often do you get quadruplets? You haven’t mentioned them before that I can remember.

    I never let my babies out of my sight at the hospital. I remember when some nurse came at 11 o’clock at night with the statement that there hadn’t been time to weigh him before! No way, José. I went with them while she weighed him. I did all the work, and I wasn’t about to let some random person dressed as a nurse abscond with him – and me look like an idiot the next morning. That was when you kept the baby with you in the room.

    • jwebster2 March 24, 2018 at 3:47 pm Reply

      you get occasional sets, I’n not sure what the odds are. We don’t get them every year
      It’s rare they all live because they can be very little
      Some breeds have more than others, the Finn can have up to seven!

      At one time the Finn Dorset cross had a bit of popularity in the UK, they were supposed to be very maternal

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 24, 2018 at 3:50 pm

        Goodness! If they don’t survive, it doesn’t seem like an evolutionary advantage, as the survivors get short-changed on whatever the lost lambs take. Seven seems ridiculous for an animal with 2 teats – or do some breeds have more?

      • jwebster2 March 25, 2018 at 6:13 am

        I wouldn’t know whether the Finn is a particularly milky sheep or what.

  8. jenanita01 March 25, 2018 at 8:45 am Reply

    Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie.

  9. jenanita01 March 25, 2018 at 8:47 am Reply

    Lovely update on all your babies, Jim… but I have to ask…what on earth is a ‘tup’?

    • jwebster2 March 25, 2018 at 9:05 am Reply

      Sorry, yes, Tup is the northern word for a Ram, a male sheep

      • jenanita01 March 26, 2018 at 9:41 am

        I learn something new every day, so thanks for that…

      • jwebster2 March 26, 2018 at 9:46 am

        It’s a bad day when you don’t learn something new 🙂

      • jenanita01 March 27, 2018 at 9:24 am

        I know what you mean, but at my age I need a few days off!

      • jwebster2 March 27, 2018 at 2:38 pm

        you’re lucky to get the full afternoon 🙂

      • jenanita01 March 28, 2018 at 10:25 am

        Always the way when you care for animals, we only have the one cat (barring visitors) so I like to think my time is my own. (some of the time, anyway!)

      • jwebster2 March 28, 2018 at 10:32 am

        At least sheep don’t demand company 🙂

  10. jbwye March 26, 2018 at 9:38 am Reply

    I just lov e reading your blogs!

    • jwebster2 March 26, 2018 at 9:47 am Reply

      That’s the effect we’re trying to achieve 🙂

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