Daisy has certainly taken us on a long ride this year. She has had all the “imminent” lambing symptoms for over 2 weeks, and combined with the bitter cold that has meant nightly checks on her every 1-2 hours for over 2 weeks. We are tired. But she finally lambed last night!
We checked her at 10pm and she was relaxed and chewing her cud. Mtn Man was planning to check her again at midnight (2 hours), but felt like he needed to check again at 11 instead (1 hour). When he got up there, both lambs were born already. She snuck them out on us in a very short amount of time! But she successfully birthed them both on her own, which is such a relief after her dramatic birth last year.
It was quickly clear that one lamb was having issues. It appeared that Daisy had birthed the ram lamb first, and began licking him/drying him/cleaning him. Then she stopped half-way through drying him off to birth the ewe lamb. Then she went to work on the ewe lamb, cleaning her off and drying her and didn’t get back to the ram. It was 19F inside the barn (and much colder and windier outside the barn). The ram lamb was hypothermic because he hadn’t been dried off fast enough. The ewe lamb was nursing and doing well, but the little guy was droopy, inside his mouth was cold, and he was gasping for breath.
We brought him down to the house and got the woodstove stoked up nice and hot. We cuddled him on our laps in front of the fire and used a hair dryer to warm him up (you have to be careful if you do this, don’t heat them too fast, or too hot). His initial temp was 98, and it took about an hour and half to get him up to the appropriate 102.5. Once he was up to temp we started syringe feeding him some milk we had milked off Daisy. It took about 1/2 hour to get 2.5 ounces into him (be careful doing this as well, you don’t want to cause them to aspirate and get pneumonia – especially if they are already having trouble breathing they can have issues swallowing properly), but through that time he definitely started perking up and his breathing returned to normal. It is amazing what a warm tummy and some good nutrients and sugars can do for a struggling lamb. His ears perked up (they were drooping down), and he started calling for his mama and trying to stand up and walk (he had been pretty lethargic and limp before). So we took him to his mom and he nursed and started to really stabilize.
The kids have named them Dusty and Dixie and they are currently doing very well, though Dusty is still a bit behind Dixie.
They are huge babies. Milk sheep generally have lambs around 7 lbs. Her single lamb that got stuck last year was 10.5 lbs. These babies are just plain huge! The ewe lamb was 11.2 lbs and the ram lamb was 11.8. We continue to have very large lambs are our farm. We have discussed it with the vet as well as seasoned shepherds that have more experience than us. There are two main camps on this, one is that it has to do with the ram, but we have used several different rams of different sizes over the years. The other camp is that it has to do with overfeeding in the last two weeks of pregnancy, but we are feeding less than the recommended amounts and less or the same as all the other shepherds we talk to. We don’t want to cut back any more because then we would risk pregnancy toxemia. So we don’t really know what to make of these large babies. This particular pair seem like they were overdue, and that could be it. Mtn Man jokes that it is the fresh mountain air that causes our sheep to have large lambs. LOL.
This morning we let the flock and the LGD come meet them through the wire. They were all very curious about the newest members of the flock.
We are still getting very cold temps here, especially at night, so we will be keeping a close eye on these two over the next week or so as they get used to life outside the womb and they wont be joining the flock in the outside world for quite a while.