Lambing Hits a Speed Bump

We’d been having such a smooth lambing season. Going into Saturday, we had five lambs from three ewes, plus a tiny stillborn triplet. We’ll call it five. Saturday evening, we got twins (one male, one female) from one of our seasoned ewes, Licorice.

Then, Sunday night, one of other other ewes delivered twin males. Both are doing great. But note that one of them has a white tuft on the top of his head; it indicates he is descended from one of our truly terrible rams (“Buddy”). By far the meanest, most dangerous animal we’ve owned. Though Buddy was culled and butchered many years ago, his “mark” still manifests itself from time to time. To be safe, we make sure we butcher any males which are clearly descended from him. So…this little guy may be cute now, but we know his ultimate destination will be the freezer.

This morning was when we hit a speed bump. A yearling ewe, Cleobelle (so named because she’s of the “Belle” line and because her eyes look painted like Cleopatra’s) delivered a cute little male lamb — but then promptly ignored him. Didn’t even bother licking him off all the way.

As you can see, the rooster appears more interested in him than his own mother does.

He did manage to get up — sort of. His front legs aren’t working well, and the trouble appears to be with the tendons. His back legs are fine, but up front his knees buckle outward when he tries to stand erect. He can scoot around pretty well on his knees. Problem is, Cleobelle is completely ignoring him. We tried putting him on a teat, but it didn’t work. We could barely get Mom to stand still, and the lamb had a lot of trouble latching on.

We debated whether we should try to rescue him, or if we should simply euthanize him. After all, it’s quite possible the ewe “knows something” about the lamb that we don’t; we’ve found that the mother animals’ instincts about which offspring to reject/abandon often turn out to be based on a fundamental defect. In the end, though, we decided to at least give him a shot. Every little creature here deserves that. Our 11 year old even offered to make this his “project.” If nothing else, it’ll give him a sense of responsibility.

We cleaned the little lamb up with warm water, then patted him down with towels and worked him over a bit with the blow drier. I gave him some colostrum replacer, but he didn’t swallow it very well. We also “drenched” him with 5cc of cod liver oil, by slowly squeezing it out of a syringe at the back of his tongue. Mrs Yeoman Farmer found that remedy in one of her books; it’s supposed to help with tendon problems. I then fed him some goat milk, again by dribbling it out of a syringe, because his suck didn’t seem very strong. By now he was pretty worn out, so we made him comfortable in a basket by the fire.

It’s been a few hours, and he doesn’t seem to be responding very well. I have my doubts that he’ll make it through the night. But at least we’ll know we did all we could to help him, and that we at least made his short time with us as pleasant an experience as possible.

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