Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lambs, lambs, lambs

Don't ask me how many lambs have been born, let alone the ratio of rams to ewes. I lost count awhile ago. I had a second set of quads born, to a 2-year old ewe, the daughter of the 10 year old ewe that gave birth to quads. So far, not a single ewe has given birth to a single lamb. All multiples. There have been three stillborns, including a deformed lamb (without a face).

#92's quadsThe first set of quads is doing fine. I offer bottles to two of the lambs. One of the lambs from the second set of quads was much smaller than its siblings, so I removed it for bottle-feeding. It never tried to nurse its mother. I tubed it for the first 24 hours and kept it in the house for convenience. When I returned it to the pen with its mother, it kept sneaking out, so I keep it in its own little pen.

There are six more mature ewes to lamb, plus seven yearlings, one of which is my dad's. One of the yearlings may have aborted a few months ago. I blame the goat I had. Harry kept butting the ewes. I gave him away.

Three of the mature ewes are going to lamb later than expected. I'm not even sure one of them is pregnant, a 2-year old registered black ewe. The other two look pregnant and may be starting to bag up. I may blood test the black ewe to see if she's pregnant. If she's not, she's going into my freezer. I've already started to call her "burger." Too bad. She's a very pretty ewe. Of course, the pretty ones are seldom the best producers.

#24's triplet lambs The lambs are doing well. I have separate pens for the twins, triplets, quads, and yearlings' lambs. Soon, I will set up a creep area. The January-born lambs will soon be weaned. I have already started cutting back the feed of their dams.

I am enjoying lambing season more this year, thanks to two days of spring break, two days of furlough, and several half work days. I've been able to care for the sheep at a more leisurely pace than if I was working full-time. It takes a lot of work this time of year, with all the different pens to feed and water. Lactating ewes drink a lot of water and they don't like it dirty. Plus, you have to make sure all the little ones are getting enough milk.

Several lambs are emerging as my favorites. Of the early lambs, Kelso is the most friendly of his birth group. He and McComb seem to have become best buds. The first set of quads has the sweetest dispositions. When I offer bottles to two of the lambs, the other two jump all over me and nibble on my clothes. They all have little black noses like Californian rabbits. I try to get pictures of them, but they never stand still.

McComb and Kelso Tony is a triplet lamb who is very friendly and rambunctious. He is easy to spot with a red mark on his neck and a black spot on his tail. Of course, the little quad (from the second group) has grown very attached to me. He's like a needy little child.

Poor Boone is afraid to go through the hoop house. The first pen contains ewes with triplet lambs. One or more of these ewes must have been mean to him because he won't pass through their pen anymore. One day, I heard him yelp pretty loudly. If he doesn't pass through the triplet pen, he can't get out to where McComb is. As a result, I think he's lonely. He "clings" to me when I'm feeding. He has recovered from his recent neutering.

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