#LAMBMETRICS for the day
Drysdale & English Leicester Flocks
Born today: 6
Total Lambs Born: 103
Drysdale lambs (live total): 49
English Leicester lambs (live total): 32
English Leicester X lambs (live total): 14
Total Sets of Twins born: 33
Total Sets of Triplets born: 1
Total ewe lambs: 56
Total ram lambs: 47
Ewes lambed /76: 68 (89.5 %)
Lamb % : 140 % [live]
Losses: 8 [lamb]; 0 [ewe]
Notable Midwifery tales:
Another day, another LambMetrics.
Better strap yourselves in – this may be a wild ride!
Beautifully sunny but cold morning today. No new lambs born first thing and now we’re down to the last few ewes we are not moving the pregnant ewes out of their main paddock during the day. So, all in all everything was in order and chores were actually finished by 9am. Unheard of!
There were a number of ewes that looked “imminent” but with a lovely day ahead all is well.
Naturally, it seemed a sensible idea to then take the opportunity to pop into town to get an urgently required water pump.
When I get back from town I’m greeted with the news that there were two new black (ewe) lambs! This time out of an English Leicester X ewe. And that a Drysdale had lambed twins but one lamb appeared to have been born dead. Disappointing, but nothing I can do about it now.
Before long it’s time to feed the pet lambs again so off I go.
Now the newly lambed ewes had taken themselves into the area closest to the shed to lamb so that was handy for being able to work out who was new.
I spot the Drysdale under a tree. One lamb is standing and she is still standing guard over the dead lamb. I get closer and then find that the ewe in question is actually Paris*. Oh no. 🙁
No time to linger too much though – the pet lambs are yelling for their bottles – so I will have to come back and commiserate with her in a short while.
Get to the garden gate, look over and see the two new little black lambs. Aaawwwww. But wait a minute, there’s a white English Leicester ewe hovering over them and the black ewe just walked away….. oh no.….
Argh. Thievery in progress!
It then computes that the white ewe is the same young one I had noticed earlier with a little bit of membranes showing. The membranes are still showing. Oh. Not good.
Meanwhile, the black ewe – who is a first time mum – is wandering off but then coming back. Poor thing is totally confused.
Right. Grab the lambs and head to the pens in the shed.
Getting the lambs there is the easy part. The ewe is so confused now she doesn’t easily follow them like normal. The Border Collies need to bring her and a few of the pregnant ewes in the right direction and then, with a bit of patience and lamb placement, manage to get her into a pen with her two lambs.
It’s slightly concerning she’s not overly “mothering” them but no time to worry about that – she’s locked safely away with them, no distractions – so now I have to get that white ewe looked at fast.
And the lambs still need feeding.
This young ewe is not going to just stand there and let me help. No way. So again the Border Collies and the patient other pregnant ewes are used to help gather up the one needing attention – it can be very hard work and very stressful to try move one sheep by itself – and bring them into the yards. I need to have this ewe in a more confined area so I can easily handle her without stressing her out.
Into the yards we go, and manage to get the white ewe in trouble into a small yard.
The lambs are still yelling for lunch but I’ve not time so the urgent text message goes to the Assistant Midwife.
Got problems here. Need help.
The ewe is carefully tipped over onto her side (she isn’t going to let me do the examination with her standing! Not this ewe.) The full arm length gloves come out of the back pocket (doesn’t everyone keep arm length obstetric gloves in their back pocket?!)
It takes less than 30 seconds to realise that the head is slightly abnormally placed and there is no way that lamb is coming out by itself and I’m going to need to use both hands. This means letting her back on her feet as I go get the rest of the toolkit (and more gloves). The Assistant Midwife will need to feed the lambs before she can come assist me.
There’s a really nifty device called a gambrel. Just a shaped piece of plastic that sits over the ewe’s neck and has two hooks to put her front legs in. Sheep can’t stand up very well from that position so it’s a wonderful, safe restraint when you’re by yourself.
I haven’t needed to use one this year so far (I’ve had the Assistant Midwife to assist…) but it sits in the Lamb Bag ready for service.
Gambrel in place, gloves on, it’s time to try and extricate these lambs (because I’ve also double-checked the ewe’s tag number and her records say she’s having twins… she doesn’t look big enough!!)
The lamb’s head has its chin tucked in below the cervix and it’s meant that the poor ewe has been trying to push but only the lambs forehead has been aiming for the exit. Not a good way to get out…
I’m figuring this lamb is dead already. It hasn’t positioned itself properly and it’s not responding to my manipulations. The ewe’s vagina and cervix are a bit too tight – probably because she’s been trying a while and pressure hasn’t been applied in the right places by the outgoing lamb. I need to try get this lamb out before my fingers go numb from the pressure.
It takes a while but eventually I managed to get the lamb’s muzzle in the right place and I can feel one foot. But the other?? It sort of feels like the I’m feeling the second lambs jaw as well and besides not being good that two heads are trying to exit at the same time it makes me nervous of pulling on legs when it could be the legs of the second lamb.
But eventually I get the head out and clear. Then one front leg. I can’t feel the other foot at all and with rotation and careful hand movement I think that the other leg isn’t in position and that it’s actually the point of the shoulder I can feel and it’s jamming against the rim of the cervix, preventing the lamb coming forward.
Twist the lamb, lift the lamb, twist again and then it’s out.
Poor thing is definitely dead and has been for hours.
I go fishing for the second lamb I know is there – it will be dead but I just want to relieve this poor ewe and get her on her feet to recover.
A foot, a nose. Two feet.
The first glimpse of tippy toes and they’re black. I want to weep. No! Not a black one. 🙁
This lamb is positioned correctly (a nose resting on two front feet) so is easier. The head pulls clear. I wipe its face and mouth. Stupidly useless, but a habit.
Pull the rest of the way and as its shoulders pull clear its head flops down and
In shock I quickly pull the lamb the rest of the way and then clear its mouth again as it lies there and shakes its head a little.
Oh my goodness.
Being careful not to break the umbilical cord too fast (don’t want to have that blood go to waste) the lamb is pulled clear and carefully placed in front of the ewe’s nose she can lick it.
More rubbing of the lamb’s chest. The meconium staining – proof of a stressed lamb – is evident despite the fact the lamb is black.
And it’s a ewe lamb.
Gambrel is removed to allow the ewe to stand and bond properly with her lamb. Stressful births like this really can interfere with the bonding so the ewe and lamb are left to themselves while the tool kit is packed up.
Tonight, all three ewes are in the shed. Paris is in to help provide the Mothering Mentorship to the young black crossbred ewe who is still slightly vague about her lambs after the near-theft experience. And then the assisted ewe is also in a pen with her lamb – to aid recovery.
Meanwhile…… some pet lamb spam……
Postscript: when putting all the newborns into the database I realised that the mother of the ewe that needed assistance was Hermione. Which means that the young ewe is Grand Duchess Kimmy’s granddaughter. That’s some serious Lamb Thievery bloodlines right there. BUT That’s not all! This ewe doesn’t/shouldn’t have black in her bloodlines…. she should have had only white lambs. Who did she get her black gene from??? That’s my current mystery!!
* Paris – Show Queen, sister of Minty and Gilbert