Earless lamb -- should I be worried?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Cat, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas
    My first spring-lambing ewe just delivered triplets on Monday which is exciting, all three were rams which isn't, and one was born without ears and only half a tail which is just sad. At any rate, all of my ewes are related in that I keep replacements from lambs born on our farm. So, am I looking at a genetic problem from the ram or just a freak occurance due to being a triplet or what? The worst I've seen from my ewes was one lamb many years ago that had an underbite.

    Tuesday I went out to check on the little buggars and the earless (appropriately named Van Gogh) lamb was missing. I pretty much figured that he had more than just the ear problem at birth and was a bit relieved that 'it was over' and that he didn't have to suffer poor health and all that jazz but I couldn't find the body. Well, after much searching in the yard I went to the pasture and there he was laying down soaking up the sun like nothing in the world could be wrong. Mom however was in the yard (sheep yard that is! :haha: ) with her other two lambs, so I guess he didn't notice the 'flock' moving out of the pasture and was blissfully unaware that he was pretty much alone in the world without food and/or protection. I'm hoping that he soon learns to adapt to what I assume is hearing loss/impairment so that he's not left behind all the time! :no:
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,084
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    I guess it could be a genetic/inbreeding problem. Lots of farms use home grown rams with no problem, but I'd think you'd want a fairly good sized flock, of 50 or more. No doubt you could get good diversity with less too, just more management?? Sheep farming is never dull for long.
     

  3. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    Messages:
    8,280
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Location:
    Now in Virginia
    That is really interesting ÇåThëRîñè. Had never heard of that before in sheep, please keep us updated on how he is doing.
     
  4. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas
    Ross,

    The ram isn't from my flock, I borrowed him from our friend so inbreeding isn't a concern. I was almost afraid that something ate the ears and tail off but then considered that there would have been much more blood, I would assume there would have been at any rate. :confused:

    The little rascal is doing great, when I checked on them yesterday they were all 3 running around acting like 'boys' (wonder if that's the first thought going through their mind after birth is getting stood up so they could start humping stuff!!) and having a great time in this nice spring weather. I left all 3 on Mom which I generally don't do, but I don't want a bottle lamb right now and since they're all nursing fine and Mom appears to have enough milk I'm just going to make sure they start getting grain when they're inclined to help with growth.
     
  5. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,743
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2004
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Hi,
    All my replacement ewes are kept from within my own flock but every two years I buy in a new ram so this lamb is unlikely to be suffering from any genetic problems. Although what you describe hasn't occured in my own flock, it used to happen now and again on a large station I worked on. Usually in triplets and the ears were either non-existant or only sort of half there, and the tail would either be a stump (saved docking :) ) or was shortened. These lambs always did as well as their siblings and didn't suffer from any hearing deficiency.

    Every year I will go out to the lambing paddock to find out what a ewe is bleating about. She'll have been performing for ages and when I get there she won't have a lamb with her so off I go to hunt for it. Every time it will be stretched out in the sun fast asleep and as often as not won't even hear me approaching. Like any baby, they can sleep the sleep of the dead.

    I think your little fellow will be fine, he's just going to look a bit odd but it makes for a good talking point.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  6. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Location:
    Kansas
    Thanks Ronney, he is doing just great! His bawler sure works, he was out in the pasture yelling at Mom yesterday because she left him & the bros behind when she went for some grain.

    I know that there are those instances when a multiple birth lamb will have absorbed one of it's siblings so I'm darn sure glad I didn't have a baby with 6 legs or something! Better no ears than extra parts.
     
  7. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    851
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    Location:
    Ky
    I guess that's one way around the whole ear-tagging scene