I got a nice gift this morning when I went down to the barn for chores: a new baby lamb! It’s a little early for Christmas, but getting an unexpected baby lamb just a few weeks before the traditional birthday of the Lamb of God is a special thing.
We’ve raised sheep for almost 10 years now, and I still can’t tell whether they’re pregnant when they have their big winter coats on. This is especially true when it’s out of the normal birth cycle. (It’s a little easier after they’re sheared, but even our vet misdiagnosed a pregnancy several years ago.) Our ram died this summer, so we put a new ram in with the ladies. I guess he couldn’t wait to get to work!
When I stepped into the barn, the lamb had just been born. She was still on the ground and momma was just starting to lick her. Within 5 minutes or so she was up and looking for her first milk. Her mom was eating the grain treat I gave her as if having a baby were a simple thing.
After years seeing the birth cycle start I’m still amazed by it! Every now and then we have problems giving birth, but for the most part it works just as well as it did this morning. We’ve been gradually culling the sheep that struggle giving birth. We had one whose hip dislocated during birth. We had another who just didn’t know what to do and would actually run away from her lambs. In both cases, penning them with the lamb was the solution. The mother with the bad hip could just lay there while we fed her and she fed the lamb. The mother who ran away couldn’t and eventually figured out what she was supposed to do.
I’ve been helped along by reading Raising Sheep the Modern Way and by getting advice from other farmers. If you need advice about livestock, post your questions on our discussion board, Lehman’s Life.