Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ugly and Beautiful

Tan lamb When you raise livestock, it is amazing how quickly things can change from beautiful to ugly and back to beautiful again. For me, lambing time can be an emotional roller coaster that sometimes goes from beautiful to ugly, back to beautiful again.

#325 had had a difficult delivery. Her first lamb had died inside of her. But after her second two lambs were delivered, she seemed fine. She was eating well and taking care of her lambs. My only concern was that she had not fully passed her afterbirth. She was receiving antibiotics and that was supposed to take care of it, but it didn't. About 36 hours after her lambs were delivered, she prolapsed her uterus. A prolapsed uterus is one of the ugliest experiences you can have raising sheep. It an emergency, often fatal condition. With my dad holding her, I tried valiantly to put her uterus back inside of her. But I failed. It's like putting something the size of a small football back through a small hole, while the ewe keeps pushing to keep it out. I called a vet. Though he also had a difficult time, he was eventually able to get it back in. He put in a stitch to hold it in, and so far it has held. She is still alive, but not yet thriving. She had crushed one of her lambs, so I removed the remaining lamb and am feeding him with a bottle. I have dubbed him Peter (the Great). He's pictured above.

C-section lambsWhile the vet was here, I asked him to look at another ewe that was worrying me. #22 is a small black ewe. She had been straining for several days. She was very, very swollen from behind. Based on her condition, I didn't see how she was going to be able to deliver her lambs successfully. I knew the lambs were full term, so I suggested a caesarian section. The vet came back in a few hours and performed a c-section on her. He removed two very large lambs from her. One black (ram) and one white (ewe). They were active, healthy, robust lambs. I tubed them for several feedings, until their mother woke up. She is now raising them. The little family seems to be doing fine. I characterize a c-section as beautiful. The birth of any animal is beautiful. A c-section is a way to bring life when circumstances seem to want to prevent it.

first goat bornSeveral more healthy sets of twins have also been born since my last posting. All of the pairs have been split, with one ram and one ewe. There are three mature ewes that have yet to deliver. I'm not sure if one is pregnant. She is sooooo fat! Though she looks pregnant, she doesn't appear to be bagging up. I call her George's fat friend. I am hoping that she will have lambs. Otherwise, it's off to the mutton factory for her. George is the only sheep that's allowed to be unproductive.

The first goats were born. #29 (the nice goat) gave birth quicker than I'd ever seen any animal give birth. Plop, plop, there they were. Twins, one doe and one buck, screaming their little lungs out. Three more goats to go, along with six young yearling ewes. I hope they are all pregnant and there are no more problems. I'm opting for beautiful.

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