This is Where Bottle Lambs Come From!

If you follow this blog on Facebook, you may know that Janet had TWO little lambies yesterday afternoon:  a giant ram lamb at 2:30, and a little ewe lamb two and a half hours later, well past the time that additional lambs are usually expected!

I’d been monitoring the little ones all night, and they seemed to be crying every time I went to see the sheep.  I attributed their crying to vigor, and perhaps insufficient milk from their dam.  When Steve and I went to see them at 11 this morning, however, they were shivering in a corner, looking weak and sickly.  We swiped them from Janet and brought them up to Fat Toad Farm, where Judith quickly assessed them as being in some trouble.  Both lambs were dehydrated and cold, and the little ewe hardly responded to noise or movement.

Me and an FTF intern emeritus, resuscitating lambs.

We sat by the fire, warming their cold little bodies.  Judith suggested electrolytes to rehydrate, followed by enough milk to nourish them but not so much that they might sicken (little lambs and kids are very susceptible to potentially fatal diarrhea from overfeeding).  After an hours intensive warming and hydration, both lambs were up and running around.  But not we had a new quandary- could we reintroduce our reinvigorated little friends to their mother and have her successfully nurse them?  We decided not to risk this with the ewe- she is far too valuable and will replace Janet in the flock.  We set the little boy in with his mother.  He began crying and she ran right to him, but he could not figure how to nurse.  He searched and searched and searched for the teat, but something did not connect for him.

If these were ordinary sheep with a more skilled and experienced shepherd, the shepherd would simply restrain the mother and show the lamb the teat to teach the lamb to nurse.   Thinking I would be unable to do that, I felt inept, unprepared and pretty out of my depth.

Brother and sister, licking the milk off each other’s noses. Photos courtesy of my mom, at

I was beginning to settle into my decision to raise the lambs by bottle when Jake called to say that Janet was going berserk and had been attacking Dot in her pen, seeking to steal Dot’s lamb.  After much deliberation, I brought the little ram down to his mom one more time.  I put him in the pen, and still he could not nurse. Then I lost my patience.  I stepped into the pen, grabbed huge Janet, wrestled her down and then sat her on her rump in the docile-sheep position.  Then, I made her little lamb nurse her.  He nursed until his little belly filled up like a balloon.   I took some of her colostrum  for the little ewe, and left her with her son.  She was really angry and tried to jump out of her pen, but I ignored her.

I’m sitting at home with a lamb on my lap, hoping that the little ram is doing okay.  The saga continues!