We're officially in the midst of lambing season - we now have a newborn lamb in the living room! We'll be offering him a bottle every several hours for the next week or two, and he'll be transitioning to outdoor life as soon as the weather improves.
We get bottle lambs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a ewe dies, so we have orphan lambs. Sometimes a lamb gets chilled and won't get up to nurse on its own. Other times, like tonight, we find a lamb that can't figure out how to nurse and/or a ewe that doesn't seem that interested in its lamb.
Tonight, I watched this lamb and its mother for over an hour. When I first discovered the pair, the ewe had not yet passed her placenta, which meant that the lamb was not yet an hour old. During the the time I watched them, I never saw the lamb nurse. I even caught the ewe at one point and tried to get the lamb to latch on - no luck. This was the ewe's first lamb, and she just doesn't seem to be a very good mother.
I hate to bring lambs home - they never do as well as they would on their mother's milk. In this case, however, I was afraid that the lamb wasn't going to get much mother's milk. I finally decided that it was a choice between taking a chance that the lamb might die overnight versus knowing that we could feed it milk and keep it going. New life is always miraculous to me. I am always disappointed when a ewe doesn't see the birth of her own lamb(s) in the same light!