A lamb called ...
My last blog post showed a lovely picture of our first lambs and a polite request to our other 4 ewes to hurry up and lamb as the first born lambs wanted some playmates. I can now report that everyone has lambed and we have a total of 8 lambs. As ever with lambing not everything went as expected.
We were hopeful that of our four remaining sheep three would have twins but we felt the ewe we call Dolly was only going to have a single. She hardly really looked pregnant and had only had one last year ... so imagine my surprise when I went in one morning and saw she had had triplets. Sadly, one was stillborn and the 2 live lambs were both extremely small. The ram lamb was soon up and suckling but the female was weaker and just could not get the hang of what to do. It is critical for the survival of lambs that they get a good fill of "first milk" as this is full of colostrum that activates their gut flora and enables them to build up immunity to diseases. Without it their chances of survival are very small. So we fed her some bought colostrum and waited. But a few hours later she still hadn't fed and was getting weaker. Plan B was needed and thankfully Dolly allowed us to milk her and we tube fed this potential life-saver to the lamb. We did this twice over the next few hours and waited. Nothing and by this time the little lamb was beginning to get cold, despite a heat lamp and Dolly's very best efforts to encourage her to feed.
So this is why we ended up with an agneau in a box in front of the fire with me bottle feeding her every 2 hours.
Lambs are notoriously difficult to get to survive if they do not have the wherewithal to suckle and this one did not want the bottle either. Only when I prised open her mouth would she accept the teat and suckle a small amount. But gradually, over the next few days, she took less prising and more milk. Slowly she got stronger but whenever I took her back to Mum she would not suckle. However I am not one to give up easily and I am pleased to announce that after 3 days of Intensive Care she started to suckle from Mum. I think Saari may have helped a bit, too! What a relief, as by that time she had worked out how to get out of the box, wasn't house trained and was dancing round the kitchen with rather too much energy for my liking! As she danced around on her tiny feet she looked just like a little ballerina on pointe shoes - our very own Angelina Ballerina!