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  • Lambing Season Success at Wild Rose Farm

    We've wrapped up lambing season at Wild Rose Farm! It has been both an exciting and fulfilling time. We welcomed 13 purebred Valais Blacknose lambs, several Valais-Teeswater cross lambs (F-1 and F-2), numerous 95-98% Wensleydale lambs, and a few purebred Teeswater lambs with new genetics from Ireland. It was a great season with all the lambs healthy, only having to intervene with three or four out of approximately 50 pregnant ewes. The toughest delivery involved a pair of Valais lambs. The first was positioned awkwardly, lounging like it was on a beanbag chair with its back feet up on the pelvic brim. The second lamb had one foot in a similar position. So now there’s three feet, and we have to figure out whose belongs to whom. It took a while to sort it out, but the Mom was tough and ended up delivering two healthy lambs.  The other interventions were more straightforward, typically involving one leg back or the head not presenting properly. One recurring challenge was dealing with about four different lambs that just couldn’t get the nursing thing down. These lambs, each from a set of twins or triplets, struggled starting to nurse. We had to help by holding the ewe or tying her up and guiding the lamb to the teat multiple times a day. This process is labor and time-intensive but essential. Thankfully, after 2-3 days, each lamb managed to nurse on their own. We don’t normally have this many lambs with nursing issues at once. We ended up with one bottle baby this season, a purebred Valais ewe lamb that we named “Diamond Ducky”. She was a single lamb whose mother was so attentive that she would circle constantly, keeping her nose on Ducky so as not to even let her nurse.  Tying the mother up didn't work as she thrashed and kicked. Ducky stayed with her mom, and we began feeding her replacer milk after ensuring she got enough colostrum from her mother. We started feeding her five times a day, gradually reducing it to twice a day. Ducky now believes she’s a sheep but still loves her milk! By the end of lambing season, we're exhausted. Why do ewes prefer night time lambing? And don't tell me it’s all about when we feed them—I just don’t buy it. Though after all is said and done, it doesn’t get old. Turning lambs out on pasture with their moms is a beautiful sight. Watching them grow, play, and run together like a school of fish always brings a smile to our faces.

  • A Sweet Lambing Tail

    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.

  • Lambing - Spring 2024

    Mid March here at Wild Rose Farm and there’s a familiar anticipation of lambing. It’s a feeling of “rightness” like this is what ought to be happening. No extra appointments are made, no trips, no anything really. Just be here and be ready. New strong iodine for navels and scrubbing the iodine cup. New docking elastic bands. Making sure my lamb scale and sleeve work okay. We’ve got all our frozen extra colostrum that we saved from last year all together in the freezer in case needed. The Valais Blacknose are not prolific milkers but many of the Wensleydales are very generous with their colostrum so we always collect some extra as we can. Since we have cameras in the barn we can usually be there to strip the waxy teat plug and then give the lamb a couple ounces (60cc is a nice amount) right off the bat. It warms them up and gives them energy to get going. I’ll milk the ewe out into a wide mouth jar, draw up 60cc into a syringe, sit the lamb up between my legs, and stick my index finger in its mouth. Usually the lamb will begin to suck on my finger and when it does I put the syringe in the tip of the corner of its mouth and start giving the colostrum. Many will begin sucking so hard I hardly have to press the syringe. Those that have no sucking response at all I will use a stomach tube and give the 2 ounces that way. If you don’t have one, look on Premier 1 lambing supplies and look up “lamb stomach tube”. I’m sure you can find a video on how to tube a lamb. Don’t be afraid to try. Getting warmth and energy in a slow lamb on a cold night is paramount. So navels have been dipped, colostrum has been given, and then we always check their eyes to ensure there is no entropion (curling of the lower lid). First time moms can be about 45-50% of twins or singles (75% twins) so we’re always watching for the second lamb to come. How long do we wait before checking? That’s hard to explain in words really. Not only lambing for 40+ years, but as a large and small annual net delivering many over the years it can get to be a “feeling”. Also just looking at the ewe – especially if she’s lambed before and she’s as big as a house and only one is out and an hour + later there’s nothing, I’ll go in and check her. Those front feet, legs and nose have to be coming together to be born. If you even go in and feel 2 feet and a tail, just pull and they’ll come out backwards just fine.

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