Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Lambing Journal - Day 1

Lambing season officially started today (a day early by my calculations, but the ewes don't carry a calendar).  Ewe #33 (a maiden ewe, meaning this is her first lamb) had a bloody discharge showing when I walked through the sheep this morning.  As this is usually a sign that a ewe has already delivered, I was worried that I didn't see a lamb with her.  After more exploration in the pasture, I came across a single ewe lamb off by herself (never a good sign).  The ewe showed slight interest in the lamb, but much more interest in grazing.  The lamb was clean and dry, but obviously hungry - she even tried to nurse on the guard dog (good ol' Uncle Buck).

Sometimes new mothers will clean off a lamb and then go off to graze, forgetting where they've left the lamb.  After watching the ewe for about 45 minutes, I decided to send the ewe and lamb home.  Our intern, Paul, put in an ear tag, gave her a selenium drench, and docked her tail.  He also paint branded her with her mother's ear tag number (33), which allows us to quickly match up ewes with lambs.  Samia came by with the trailer, and we loaded them up.  Before Sami left, we held the ewe and allowed the lamb to nurse.

Sami put them in a stall at home all by themselves.  When I checked on them at about 2 p.m., the ewe had definitely mothered up - she was calling to the lamb, and the lamb was warm and happy.  Unfortunately, Sami found the lamb with a swollen head about 2 hours later.  We're not sure if the swelling is from a spider bite or some other sort of trauma.  We gave the lamb an anti-inflammatory, and I'll head back out shortly to check on her.

Now that we've started lambing, we'll go through the ewes 2-3 times each day - checking for new lambs and for problems.  The ewes are only about 3 miles from home this year, which is great (last year, we lambed in Lincoln - about 15 miles from home).  We're most worried about the coming cold weather - the National Weather Service is predicting a chance of snow Thursday night through Saturday in Auburn.  We'll monitor the conditions and move the sheep to a more sheltered location if necessary.

I'm planning on updating this "journal" daily as we go through lambing season - stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. been waiting for these stories to come, looking forward to more stories Dan.