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A Sweet Lambing Tail

Newborn Wensleydale lamb with its mom.
Newborn Wensleydale lambs with their mom.

This morning, we were surprised to find a little black lamb with her mother among the other pregnant ewes in the barn. Although the ewes were locked up during the night, we monitor them via camera. We hadn't had any lambs in about four days and expected the remaining 16 ewes to give birth together over the weekend.

Last night was the first in many weeks that we didn’t check the cameras overnight. Of course, a ewe gave birth during this time. We discovered her with one newborn lamb in the middle of the barn. After a quick search, I found another little black lamb curled up in a dark corner of the first stall on the left. I picked him up, moved him to a well-lit stall, and set up a heat lamp. Then, I brought the lamb that was with the mother to join her brother, and the mother followed.

The mother only paid attention to the little girl. The little boy seemed dazed and confused, seeking warmth under the lamp. To encourage bonding, I used a blue panel to halve the stall’s size, forcing the mother closer to both lambs. Sometimes, if a mother doesn’t recognize a lamb as her own, she might try to push it away.

Interestingly, mothers recognize their babies by smelling their bottoms. I used this knowledge to help with the bonding process. I rubbed the scent from the lamb that stayed with her onto the one she left behind. I also milked her a bit and squirted her milk on both their faces. After leaving them alone for a little while, the mother began smelling both lambs and eventually started licking them both, accepting the situation peacefully.

Mom tending to newborn Wensleydale lamb.


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