Lambing Season 2013
The Birth of New Lambs Is Always a Pleasure to Watch
This is the third article about the birth of new lambs. I always get a bit exited when the lambing season is about to begin. I know the period wherein the lambs will be born, but I never know exactly when.
That's the beauty of my very old and rare Dutch Native Sheep Breed called Drenthe Heath Sheep. This breed is still very close to nature and normally I don't have to watch, they do it all by themselves. However sometimes, like with any specie's giving birth, something might go wrong. So I do keep an eye on certain ewes.
Today, March 14 2013 the first lambs were born. I didn't see it, they must have been born either during the night or early morn, and they were there when I went to feed the ewes.
I like to give names to my lambs and for the last three years I named them after the internet friends I've met on web.
Meet the Dad of All the Lambs 2013
I Used Only One Ram This Year
I used only one ram this year, because I had no opportunity to make two groups of ewes this year. Putting two full grown rams together in with about 10 ewes, they only would fight themselves to death while making out who's the boss. Besides that you wouldn't be able to tell which lambs belong to which ram.
Meet the Moms of 2013
The Older and Newer Generation of Moms
Every year I choose 8 to 10 ewes to put in with the ram. Mostly 8 because they give me enough lambs to either sell or keep. I can't keep them all because I don't have enough grass to feed more than I have now. The old ewes have to make place to the young ones.
Ewes that don't perform well are for instance ewes that reject their lambs for some reason. Those get one more chance and if they do it again, they're out. Another example is ewes who give problems during birth, like Little Ann did last year. She had not enough dilatation and I had to call in the vet to get the lambs out. If she has the same problem this year, it's not wise to breed with her any further alas.
One ewe is missing in the photo above and that's Othercat. I don't know yet if she will be a mom this year, don't feel any start of an udder yet, while all the other young ones have. But there's still hope and if she will have lambs after all, I'll put up her picture too.
Lamb #1 - Victoria - Born March 14, 2013
Victoria is the name of the first born lamb in 2013. Well it's an assumption, because I don't know if she came first or her brother, I wasn't there when it happened.
This morning when I came to feed the ewes, they were both standing there and had already been licked dry by their mom Wibbina.
So it could've been in the night or early morn.
Victoria is what we call a Light Fox Color, like her mom Wibbina has. Her color will be a bit lighter than it shows now eventually.
Her fleece will grow out white in a few months.
Victoria One Month Old
Lamb #2 - BananaMan - Born March 14, 2013
BananaMan is the twin brother of Victoria. He's a strong little fellow with a curious nature.
His color is a special one, we call that in English 'Badger face' due to the two black lines that run from his eyes to his (yet to grow) big horns.
This color pattern originally comes from crossing with a British sheep breed long time ago. We decided to not breed it out again. The color pops up unexpectedly.
A very significant detail is that sheep with this color are all black at the inside of their legs, their belly all the way up to the end of the tail.
Their fleece will grow out white, but the black stays.
BananaMan One Month Old
A Good Ewe Takes Good Care of Her Lambs
Wibbina Is the Perfect Sheep Mom
What the ewe Wibbina is doing here is stimulating the lamb to let go of its feces. The lamb has to be stimulated, like it is the same with little kittens or dog pups. She will do that the first weeks.
I'm sorry to announce that Bananaman is no longer with us. I found him dead in the meadow two weeks ago. Sad, but sometimes it happens. It could be a severe worm infection, or what we call Summer pneumonia. I couldn't tell.
Lamb #3 - Lexi - Born March 15, 2013
Lexi was born this late afternoon in the meadow across the street. Every year some of these moms deliver by surprise and that's how it should be with this breed. Her mom BossyPants is a good mom and is taking good care of her first time little lamb.
Lexi also has the light Fox color.
I will get more Fox colored lambs this year. Despite the fact that every sheep has all the colors in its genes, the Fox color is dominant in this breed. Lately we noticed that the old Fox color was disappearing a bit because our breeders love those fancy colors this breed can produce. Because it's important to keep all colors alive, I specifically have chosen a Fox colored ram this year.
Mom Bossypants with Daughter Lexi
I like it when those moms don't need me. When I took this photo, Lexi was only about 30 minutes to 1 hour old, because she was still wet. She's doing great and drinks a lot to keep her warm, because it's not Spring here yet. Temps outside tonight are ranging from 0-3C.
They have a shelter on that meadow, but they hardly use it. Tough breed it is.
Lexi One Month Old
Update April 2015 - Lexi Has Now Lambs of Her Own
Lamb #4 - Winlin - Born March 16, 2013
Winlin was born at about 04.00am this night (it's night here, almost morn). I had been watching a very interesting late movie on the TV (about the German Baader-Meinhof group back in the 70s) and when it was finished, I went to check the sheep before going to bed and there he was...a beautiful black big and strong lamb, just getting on his feet.
I waited half an hour to see if there was another one, which I doubted as this lamb was rather big for being one of twins. You can see on the photo that he's still wet. I dusted off his umbilical cord, because that's not so pretty to see on a photo. It will dry up and fall off in a few days.
I'm glad Winlin is a single lamb, because Mom Lady Lotus got two lambs last year and rejected one. Now she only has to concentrate on one lamb.
Winlin One Month Old
Newborn Lamb Winlin with His Mom Lady Lotus
I'm always glad when I see this, the ewe at ease while the lamb is drinking
Update March 24, 2013 at 4.00am
Cold Spell and Snow in the Barn
Just checked the ewes again before going to bed and found this: I thought it was worth a photo. We have a cold spell at the moment. Temps are around 0C or just below, but it feels like -15C due to the icy wind blowing hard. The ewes don't mind at all.
This is the ewe I have to keep an eye on and I sincerely hope she's not carrying triplets. She had a hard time delivering last year so this is her last chance. If it's going to be a difficult delivery again, she's done lambing. She can stay because she has this special color, but I won't breed with her again. So let's hope (and keep your fingers crossed) she will do it right this time.
Lamb #5 NoNameYet - aka Sammy Boy - Born March 24, 2013
NoNameYet - Aka Sammy Boy
NoNameYet aka Sammy Boy has been born as one of twins.
I stayed up till 4.00am last night, but no real signs of an upcoming birth yet, so I went to bed. However when I went in this morning Mom LilyMom had delivered two lambs, one stillborn female (I assume as she hadn't licked it al all) and one rather weak male. LilyMom is responding well to the lamb, but as it is weak, it isn't a pusher to find mom's tits, so I had to help him a bit.
One of his behind legs has a knick just above the hoof, this happens sometimes and normally it will straighten out in a few days (giving some massage a few times a day). However I won't name him yet, I want to see first if he's going to make it. No use to give him a name and then find him dead in a couple of days.
Well, that's nature, these things happen. Of course now I regret not having stayed up a bit longer, but it probably wouldn't have changed anything if I had done that. We'll see how it goes. I'm glad the mom doesn't reject it, so it has a chance, but it's up to the lamb which way he wants to go. I have a feeling that he's going to make it, but you never know with these lambs and then I'm not sure if I should name him anyway, because it's a ram and if he makes it, it won't be one to keep for breeding, but isn't he a cutie?
Updates on Lamb #5 NoNameYet aka Sammy Boy
His health fluctuates between bad and a bit better
Update: March 24, evening:
I have good hopes for NoNameYet, just went to look in and it was drinking. I massaged his leg again and when I put him down the joint was not bending anymore. Might take another few days but it's going in the right direction. So let's keep our fingers crossed a few more days.
Update: March 25, 3.30am:
I have to recall the last update. NoNameYet is not standing right on his feet at this moment. He's sagging through is rear legs and that's not a good sign unless he's having a hard time to get his first poop out. I get a feeling though that both lambs might have been sitting in a somewhat jammed position during their birth. So I'll leave it be for the night and see how it is tomorrow. If it's still not good I'll call in the vet to see if something is really wrong.
Update March 26, 3.55am:
Had the vet in this afternoon and he couldn't find what was really wrong. Could be a trauma during birth or the lamb was stepped on, but we can come up with a hundred possible causes, we just don't know and will never know for sure. The lamb got two shots as there was still reflection and movement in his rear legs. If it's 'repairable' I should see some better results tomorrow afternoon. If I don't, then we won't go any further and NoNameYet will be put down. He can hardly walk at the moment. Sad but in the wild he would have died a few hours after birth. You see on the picture that he's sagging a bit already, now it's far worse.
Update March 27, 2.30am:
Tonight for the first time I thought I saw a tiny bit improvement on how he's standing on his rear legs. He has a bit of a hard time to get his poop out and clearly that is a bit hurting. The first poop of a lamb is brownish/black, after that it's sticky yellow. Pardon me if I talk about the poop, but the poop of a lamb is very important. It indicates if the lamb is healthy or not. There's nothing wrong with NoNameYet's poop, be it that it hurts him to get it out, which indeed could point to a trauma in his back somewhere. Any pressure will be painful then. So if this tiny bit of improvement is still there later in the day, I will call in the vet again to give him another shot and see where it will bring us in the following days.
Mind you and maybe some will find this a bit harsh, but this lamb will never be a breeding ram and as the rams of this breed will grow into big rams with big horns, with sometimes not the best attitude towards people and certainly not towards other rams, you simply can't keep a ram as a pet. Eventually he will attack you if you make him too tame and they can break your legs when they're fully grown. He will certainly attack other rams as he sees them as rivals. So the end station for this ram, if he stays alive, will be someone's plate.
It's official now, NoNameYet has been renamed to
Hip, Hip, Hip Hurray!!!!
Sammy Boy Is Going to Make It!!!!
Since yesterday NoNameYet is walking like he should be. I'm so glad the vet decided to have another go at him. So there's actually nothing wrong with him, it appeared to have been an extern trauma. Maybe some ewe stepped on him or gave him a bump with their horns, who knows, but in any case, he recovered. I have to give him another shot for the next three days and then he'll be just fine.
Can you imagine that only the day before yesterday, he couldn't stand on his rear legs and was shuffling around with his bum on the floor?
I have to recall my statement above that this ram will never be a breeding ram, because now we know he wasn't born crippled, but just had and extern trauma, so all his chances are still open. Like any other ram he must meet the criteria set for breeding rams and we'll see next year how that turns out.
Miracles do happen sometimes.
Update Feb. 12, 2014 R.I.P Sammy Boy
Alas, on February 12, 2014 I got the message that Sammy Boy had died after a fight with his fellow male rams. Shit happens they say and Sammy Boy happened to be in the wrong spot on the wrong time. Up growing male rams fight a lot when their hormones kick in, but those fights hardly ever end up in death. This time however it happened to Sammy Boy. Nobody has seen it happening so we're all guessing, but there was blood coming out of his ear and that usually means a broken neck.
R.I.P. Sammy Boy, may his little soul rest in peace.
Lamb #6 Katinka - Born March 24, 2013
Katinka was born outside in the snow this morning.
Just after noon today I went to the meadow across the street to feed the ewes and I saw this little lamb standing under the roofing and thought it was Victoria and I said 'Oh good, you're seeking shelter for this freezing wind'. A few moments later however I saw Victoria with her mom standing at the hay rack, so I thought 'Darn, that other one must be a new lamb' so I went back and there she was a new lamb indeed. Mom .Alya has proven to be a good mom in the past years. I only would've thought she was carrying twins but apparently not.
Katinka will get the same bleached out Fox color like her mom, or...she could darken up in a few months, we'll see.
Katinka Three Weeks Old
Oh I Love Seeing This
Lamb #7 Peter-B - Born March 27, 2013
Peter-B was born this night and again I didn't see it. As you can see from the update on NoNameYet, I was in the barn at around 2.30am and nothing was happening there. No signs of an upcoming birth.
At about 4.00am I went to the barn again to check up on NoNameYet. I heard him (I know his sound by now), but then I heard another soft baaaaah, so I went around the feeding rack and there they were: beautiful twins.
Peter-B Three Weeks Old
Lamb #8 FlyCatcher - Born March 27, 2013
FlyCatcher is the twin sister of Peter-B and she had just seen the light when I came in, still being all wet and all and not standing very standing on her legs yet.
I wouldn't have thought for a minute that mom Nantje was carrying twins, she wasn't that fat at all and certainly not two of this size, because they're rather big for twins.
I had bought this ewe two years ago from another breeder who stopped keeping sheep and this was her first time lambing in my barn.
Very glad to say that she's an excellent mom.
Flycatcher Three Weeks Old
I recently heard that poor Flycatcher suddenly died in the fall of 2014. Cause unknown. Always sad to lose a young sheep.
Peter-B and Flycatcher on Video - It's a Bit Dark, but It's Dark in the Barn.
The sound that the mom makes (sounds a bit like snoring), is the sound that makes the lambs know exactly who their mom is. The ewe starts to do this just before the lambs come out and will continue to do that for the coming days. This sound will be imprinted in their brain and they will recognize their mom in a big herd. It's vice versa, the sound the lambs make will be imprinted in Mom's brain, plus the scent of each of her lambs.
Little Lambs in the Meadow
I took this with my photocamera and I'm not a good filmer. The first shot is from the ewe who went into labour this morning, eventually I had to call in the vet to take them out. Mom and their twin boys have to recover a bit. I'll put them up tomorrow.
Lambs in the Meadow 2
Lamb #9 Tom - Born March 30, 2013
Tom is the twin brother of Gil and they were born this afternoon with the help of the vet. Their mom Annegien didn't have strong enough contractions and wasn't able to give birth the natural way.
As it is still very cold (around zero C) at night, I decided to bring them to the barn, so I could keep an eye on them.
Lamb #10 Gil - Born March 30, 2013
Gil is the Twin brother of Tom. He too is a cute little fellow.
However it appeared that Mom Annegien was a bit apathetic after the whole event, but later on I noticed that she didn't reject the lambs but was a bit difficult in letting them drink. So I examined the utter and it was not big and full at all. Then it dawned on me that she had had the same thing last year. Though eventually she let them drink last year, but I had to bottle feed them too. So this year it's the same thing. Two lambs are getting supplement bottles.
Pity for mom Annegien, but these are her last lambs. Two year in a row not producing enough milk isn't good.
Lambs Climbing on Mom Annegien
Update Tom and Gil
Update April 4, 2013
Mom Annegien shows the same pattern as she did last year. She produces very little milk, so I had to give her shots for that. She's not rejecting the lambs, but she's not a protective mom either. She doesn't react on their bleating. If they get lost outside, she's not going to look for them.
When she's inside she lets them drink, but when she's outside she has too much distraction and forgets them, therefore I keep them inside the barn. I'm not sure yet if the lambs get enough to drink. I have to watch it for a few days, or else I will start to give them a few additional bottles a day.
Update April 7, 2013
Today I decided to give the twins some extra milk, because it appears, just like last year, that Mom Annegien doesn't produce enough milk for both lambs. They drink with her, but they're just getting enough to stay alive, not enough to grow. Both accepted the bottle very quickly and that indicates that they were hungry. A lamb that is getting enough from its mom, won't take the bottle milk. So I won't breed with mom Annegien anymore.
Bananaman, Lexi and Victoria
Ewe Linnepin Certainly Has Twins in Her Belly
With a bit of luck we'll have Easter Lambs again
Around noon today I noticed that ewe Little Ann wasn't doing her normal doing, indicating that the birth of her lambs had started. The dilation contractions can take a long time. Early this evening I noticed that she got contractions more often. The amniotic fluid has not come out yet, that's why I think it will take another few hours.
In the meanwhile our own Linnepin (named after my daughter Lynn Karijn thought that the meadow wasn't her thing anymore and decided to take a peek outside, so she was walking on the street. I put her back in again, but couldn't see where she had come out. Few hours later she was there again, in the middle of the street, so I brought her back in again and inspected the whole meadow and couldn't find anything. Then in the early evening I happened to look outside and suddenly I saw her put her head below the wire netting trying to crawl underneath. How smart she was, but it didn't help her because now I knew that she could not longer stay there and I put her in the barn with the other sheep.
I will inspect the barn ever hour now and I just noticed that also Linnepin began to show some signs of a near birth. Don't know yet for sure, but she isn't eating and she reacts to the little twins Tom and Gil.
Tom and Gil are doing ok so far. I have to give Mom Annegien two shots per day to stimulate her to make milk and this afternoon and tonight I saw both lambs drinking. As long as the lambs are not weaning and bleating they get enough food inside, so I won't step in yet. The more they drink with mom, the more stimulation mom gets. Keep your fingers crossed that she will keep it up.
With a bit of luck, my lambing season will end tonight or tomorrow. Let's hope all goes well this time.
And while I was writing this update, Little Ann's first lamb has been born and again I haven't seen it. My daughter Lynn, who was working in another part of the barn, suddenly heard a lot of bleating so she went to look what was happening and the lamb had just been born. .As soon as the second lamb is born I will take pictures again. Hurray for Mom Little Ann, because this time she delivers her babies all by herself, so she stays.
I think there will be a MakingaMark among them. First lamb is a girl.
Lamb #11 MakingAMark - Born March 31, 2013
MakingAMark was born at 21.20h local time. She's a beautiful, what we call Plain Blue Fox girl.
I can see she will be a Blue Fox because she has this light circle around the eyes, her snout is grayish brown, she has brownish ears and her fleece will be white.
The reason why I called this one MakingAMark is because that white spot on her shoulder, which you won't see anymore when she gets her white fleece, but it's there and that means that she has the white gene factor and actually is a spotted Blue Fox.
I was so glad that mom Little Ann gave birth all by herself, because that means I can breed with her again as I wrote in the update.
Makingamark Three Weeks Old
Lamb #12 Weaselpuppy - Born March 31, 2013
Weaselpuppy was born as the twin brother of MakingAMark. He also is a beautiful, Plain Blue Fox girl, but like his sister actually a spotted one.
All those brown and white spots on his body will disappear in his white fleece eventually. You can clearly see the brownish trimmings on his ears and the grayish mouth.
Both are full of life and healthy and Little Ann is the best mom one can get.
Weaselpuppy Three Weeks Old
Video: the Birth of Weaselpuppy - Very Dark, but Mom Little Ann Had Chosen to Give Birth Right There
Tonight (June 20, 2013) I got a call that there was a dead lamb in the meadow, so I went over to see what happened because I had seen all lambs in good health (I thought) yesterday when I picked up their moms for shearing. It appeared to be Weaselpuppy, alas. Very strange and I guess it's the same thing as has happened to Bananaman. Acute worm infection I think. The weather is acting very strange over here. Last week I still needed a coat, last Tuesday I almost melted down from the heat and next week it will be low temps again with lots of rain.
So I took the lamb home and went back with worm medication and gave each remaining lamb a shot that will kill the worms. I never had this severe worm infection before in such young lambs.
One nice thing though is that last Monday the vet called and asked if it was ok to take a picture of him holding a lamb for their new folder. So I went over with the dog to gather the sheep and he picked Weaselpuppy. I'll ask him to send me the photo so I can put it in here.
Darn, I hate it when lambs die.
Lamb #13 Glen - Born April 8, 2013
Glen was born in the afternoon of April 8. Finally mom Linnepin decided it was time to put an end to the waiting.
Glen is the fourth black lamb and the seventh male lamb. Stand is exactly 7 girls x 7 boys + one girl stilborn. Not at all bad, so I'm very pleased.
Lamb #14 KathyMcGraw - Born April 8, 2013
KathyMcGraw is the most beautiful Light Fox lamb and I'm very pleased with her. Her mom is the namesake of my youngest daughter's nickname 'Linnepin'. I was out for part of the day and when I came home, my hubby said a lamb had just be born, so I told him that the second one wouldn't be much later and when I walked into the barn, KathyMcCraw had just come out.
With these two lambs you can clearly see that you can't predict what color comes out. Amazing thing though is that all four black lambs are rams.
Mom Linnepin with Her Twins
Kathymcgraw and Glenn Almost Two Weeks Old
Lambing Season 2013 Came to an End
All lambs for this year have been born. It's a pity we had one stillborn lamb (a girl) and I have to give some extra milk through bottle feeding to Tom and Gil, but overall they are great, strong and healthy lambs. I'm very happy with them.
The temps are going up, so I will make some more photos in the meadow and try to make another video. So.... finally Spring has arrived here.
Thank you for all the nice comments and do come back from time to time so read the updates.