Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quads and more

On March 22, one of my Katahdin ewes gave birth to quadruplets: two ewes and two rams. They ranged in weight from 6 to 8 lbs. and are all healthy and doing well. After they were a couple of days old, I started offering them a bottle. I don't figure any ewe has enough milk for four lambs.

The last time I had quads was in 2003. After a couple of days, I removed one of the lambs for bottle feeding. This time I'm going to leave all the lambs on the ewe and supplement them as necessary. I don't mind bottle feeding when I'm not locked into a strict schedule.

Frecks with her four lambsThe ewe that had the quads is a 3-year old ewe that I call "Frecks." Her mother is Freckles. Everybody with a Katahdin flock has a ewe named Freckles. Freckled faces are common in the breed. As a yearling, Frecks had twins. Last year, she had triplets. This year, quads. I hope she doesn't have quintuplets next year!

Frecks is a good mother. She's got a nice udder on her. I'm pretty much giving her all she wants to eat. I feed her a grain mix three times per day, plus all the alfalfa hay she can eat. I still have her and the quads in a pen by themselves. Soon I will put them in a group pen so they'll have access to creep feed.

My 28 mature Katahdin ewes lambed in 16 days (March 10-March 26). They are raising 61 lambs among them. The ratio is almost 60:40, ewes to rams. A good ratio when you're selling ewe lambs for breeding. Freckles hasn't lambed yet. I'm not sure what's going on with her. She's eight years old and has had triplets for the past five years. She's passed on prolificacy to all of her female progeny.

Katahdin ewe and lambI had to pull the first lamb in two years when I saw a big head sticking out of one of my black ewes, #454. When I investigated, I determined that both of the lamb's front legs were back. I righted one of the legs and was able to pull the big black lamb out without too much difficulty.

The big fella was lifeless when he came out. He seemed dead. His head wasn't swollen much, so he couldn't have been sticking out for long, but still it had obviously taken a toll on him. I worked on him and got him breathing. I breathed a sigh of relief as he quickly came to life. I checked for a second lamb. There was one, but I left it for the ewe to deliver. Best to interfere as little as possible.

The ram lamb weighed over 12 lbs., which was big for his mother who is not one of the bigger ewes in my flock. Its twin is a ewe lamb. Both are solid black, not a white hair between them. I dubbed the ram lamb "Titan."

A black ram lamb, but not TitanRound 2 of lambing season began this morning when the first yearling, #715, a ewe I got from my dad, gave birth to a single ram lamb. I don't mind when a yearling has a single lamb. It's like a mature ewe giving birth to twins. There's almost always enough milk and no need to fuss with them.

There are 10 more yearlings to lamb. Several will give birth to Ears's first progeny. I'm anxious to see his lambs. Two of the yearlings were bred late and should not lamb until close to May. The rest are all bagging up.

The 2008 lambing season is going well. I'm enjoying it.

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