Pregnancy Scanning

I was on the fence about having the vet come out to ultrasound the ewes to check for pregnancy.  It’s a significant expense, and I’m already needing to buy extra hay.  It also was tricky to schedule a time when I could be home, given that I just got a paycheck for 120 hours over two weeks!

But still, I knew I could manage some extra feed for ewes with twins while avoiding overfeeding ewes with singles, and I could make decisions about keeping or selling open ewes as appropriate.  So I kept the appointment, having warned the vet that I didn’t have a chute or other close-holding facility to make grabbing ewes easy.  They didn’t mind.

The thaw we had two days ago gave me a chance to loosen and move the outer paddock.  I was thus able to restrict the sheep to the barn only, saving us a lot of running around!

My first priority was to see if the Bluefaced Leicester ewe lambs were pregnant, and if so, how many lambs they might have.  A ewe lamb with a single needs less food than one with twins.  Overfeeding a ewe lamb with a single lamb in utero could potentially stimulate too much fetal growth, leading to a situation where you have a large lamb in a fat mother with little room to maneuver.

Then we checked Bobolink and Meadowlark.  Both had disappointed me with single lambs last year, and I’m keen to see better performance from them as I contemplate whether or not to keep the Cormo cross project going.

We checked Phoebe, my only CormoX ewe lamb, followed by her mom Peggy, and then we grabbed Tardis and Dalek, whom I was sure were pregnant but wanted to confirm.  We left Valentine well enough alone, as she would not have cooperated with being held still with a want on her flank.

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Checking Marianne.  She was the only ewe who wouldn’t stand for us, so she got to lie down.  The vet uses the ultrasound want on a wool-less area near her udder.
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The blackness is amniotic fluid, the white glob is a lamb, and the roundish-swirlish structures are the cotyledons connect the placenta to the uterus.

I bet you want to know what the results were!

Little Moose and Eleanor, the two white Bluefaced Leicester ewe lambs, each have at least twins, and possibly triplets.  The fetuses were too big to count with certainty, but it could have easily been triplets in each.

Marianne, the black Bluefaced Leicester ewe lamb, appears to have twins.

Bobolink and Meadowlark each have twins, which is a huge improvement over previous years where each has had a single lamb.

Sadly, Phoebe does not appear to be pregnant.  Disappointing.

Peggy is pregnant and “quite far along” in the words of the vet.  Could she have gotten pregnant before the rams left the flock in late July?  I’m glad that I now know that she could lamb in a matter of weeks!

Tardis and Dalek, the two adult Bluefaced ewes, are definitely pregnant with a minimum of twins.  Both have histories of triplets, so I’m guessing we’ll see at least a set of triplets there.

I’m very, very glad to have this information.  We can keep a close eye on Peggy, I can consider selling Phoebe, and I’m glad to know that almost everyone else is carrying lambs.

Most importantly, though, if I am going to have potential triplets, Matt and I will prepare intensely for bottle lambs.  I would certainly never plan on a first-time lambing mom raising triplets unassisted, so we will be ready to raise a few lambs on our own if Moose or Eleanor have triplets, or if Tardis or Dalek have triplets and reject one or more.  We are already considering where the pen for bottle lambs should go.

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Bobolink just had to see what her lambs look like in utero.

One thought on “Pregnancy Scanning

  1. Hi Katie – do you know whether most (or all) large animal vets offer ultrasounding, or do sheep farmers have to call in specialists?

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