Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More than half done

The 2012 lambing season is more than half done. So far, there are 40-something lambs. The quad babies are doing outstanding. I have the quad mom penned separately and I am spoiling her with all she can eat. I also keep her pen well-bedded with fluffy, yellow straw. The babies, two rams and two ewes, would like more room to play, but have enough room to kick their legs up. They are white lambs with black spots on their faces and legs, a stamp of their sire (Marcus).

The twins born via c-section are also doing well, woofing down their milk four times a day, then playing vigorously while I finish my chores. In a couple of days, I will be able to cut them back to three feedings per day. They gave me a scare when they were a little over a day old. Both developed fevers. The ram lamb was breathing heavy and the ewe lamb acted as if she had a belly ache. I started them both on a course of penicillin and banamine.

They were back to their normal spunky, hungry selves after one treatment. I kept them on penicillin for a few days to be on the safe side. I dubbed them Muttley (ram) and Mutt (ewe), as they are five-way cross lambs: Katahdin x Dorper x Hampshire x Suffolk x Lacaune. So far, they are the only lambs I have out of the Lacaune ram (Spooner).

One ewe lost her lambs. After her labor failed to progress, I delivered her first lamb backwards. I revived it, but it had difficulty breathing. It sounded like it had fluid in its lungs. I did the usual swinging and eventually its breaths came easier. But that was the least of its worries. From the beginning, it flopped around the straw like a fish on the deck of a boat. It kept swinging its head from side-to-side. I thought it had wry neck. The only way to keep it from constantly throwing its head back was to hold it and massage its neck.

The ewe delivered the second lamb on her own. It looked normal, but also fought for breaths and flopped around the straw, swinging its neck back and forth. In hindsight, I should have delivered the second lamb. Sometimes, you're not thinking clearly when you're in crisis mode. Neither lamb was ever able to stand. Their legs were floppy; their necks in constant nervous movement. I gave both lambs two feedings of colostrum with a bottle. There was no improvement by the next day, so I had the lambs euthanized.

It's always heart-wrenching to watch baby animals struggle to be normal. The vet thought that both lambs had probably been deprived of oxygen while in the womb. This could have caused the symptoms that were observed. Don't know why or how it happened, but it did. I milked the ewe for colostrum and am drying her off. I plan to keep her. I don't think it's her fault. She's been a good producer.

Two days ago, I found four newborn lambs with two related sisters. Both ewes will let all four lambs nurse them and the lambs go back and forth between the two ewes. Every time I think I've figured out which lambs go with which ewe, they nurse the other ewe. So, I've got the two ewes penned with the four lambs. I'll let them raise all four lambs together. This happened with a pair of half sisters a few years ago. I never did figure out which lambs belonged to which ewe. Not knowing which lambs go with which ewes wreaks havoc on record-keeping, but since they're three-quarter sisters and the lambs have the same sire, I don't suppose it matters much.

It looks like one of my best ewes will lamb tonight (#739). She should have crossbred lambs in her. I'd like to get a good ewe lamb out of her, as she's had mostly males lambs up to this point. A couple of years ago, she had quads. She's an outstanding milker and has excellent udder conformation. These are the two traits I value the most in my flock.

No comments: