Day 2 of lambing has been a rather momentous day so far. Due to my very early start on Day 1, Mrs Farmer offered to do the 3am check, and so I retired to have a full night’s sleep, then get up and perform the 7am check, then I could return to bed with a coffee and read.
I was rather outraged to discover two lovely white lambs being licked by a very enthusiastic mother. I came back to the house and appealed for the help of Mrs Farmer, and rushed back out to prepare a pen in the lambing shed. When I got back to the barn, it became clear that another sheep, who was licking one of the lambs, had given birth as she was beginning to deliver after birth. It seemed that two of the sheep had each delivered a lamb. I hastily prepared another pen also. Mrs Farmer came in to lamb-nap the sheep into the lambing shed.
Sheep are all about smell, and identify their lambs by sniffing their bottoms. Any lamb that does not have the correct smell is soon nudged sway. Lamb-napping, therefore, means carrying a lamb, nice and low so it is in the sheep’s eye-line, with its bottom facing in her direction. Two lambs were lamb-napped, and two sheep followed, but one was most enthusiastic, so the two sheep were put in with her, and the other put into another pen. The lambs seemed quite happy with their mother, and the other sheep pawed and circled, and generally looked rather cross at all the fuss. We concluded she might be in early labour but was not the mother.
The mother, in Pen 5, had a prolapse in January, and had a plastic pessary fitted, so we removed this to allow the afterbirth to come – these are normally moved at the point of labour, and lambs are not supposed to be able to be born past them, but previous experience denies that fact. However, it became clear that the sheep in Pen 3 might not be in labour after all. We went outside to check on the sheep in the main barn, and quickly realised that the sheep in the top pen, who was bellowing and making a general fuss, and showing signs of afterbirth, was indeed the mother! We quickly brought back the false labourer, brought the mother over, and restored her lambs to her. She was delighted to see them again, and immediately stopped fussing, even when her pessary was removed (it is unusual for there to be two prolapses).
This did not at all suit the sheep in Pen 5, now robbed of two lambs, and who was checked and found to be only in the early stages of labour. We had to leave her to it, although we were worried lest she should prolapse. She was an extremely dramatic ewe, so we had lots of bellowing, panting, clawing the ground, stamping feet, circling, and licking the ground. We hoped that she would get on with it, and have no problems, and returned to take toast – it being ten am and toast-o-clock. However, it was not to be…….