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First lambs born last night

9374 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  LeahN

My black Barbados blackbelly ewe Freckles had 3 lambs last night. 2 were born by the time we went out to close up the birds. We hurriedly had to get them into a shed because one of our other sheep was bothering them. Along the way the 3rd lamb was born, but dead. I did everything to revive it but no luck. The other 2 seem very healthy and happy, but I want to ask a few questions to make sure everything is alright.

They are in a shed about 5'x8'. We had a red heat lamp in there last night to help dry up the lambs and keep them warm. Temp outside was about 35. I just turned the heat lamp off because I read they can get sick with it too much. Is that alright? Our days go up to 50 and nights down into 30s. Will they need the lamp again tonight?

I've checked onthem a few times already this morning, espcially to make certain they are nursing. This is one of the ewes that the previous owner told us we would have to stomach tube feed the lambs. Well I've been feeding them grain and they have lots of milk. Freckles seems to have a large udder, about grapefruit-cantaloupe size. I stripped the teats last night to make certain milk was coming out and it was. The lambs would suckle a bit last night. This morning, I'm a bit worried that they aren't getting much. The lambs will go and find the teat (better than last night), but they will only suckle for a few seconds with their tails whipping, but then stop. Is this normal? Shouldn't they suckle longer??? They are not crying. The littler one is always on his feet, but the bigger one lays down a lot. They were both kind of jumping around just now. Do I need to do antyhign more for them to drink? I have warm molasses water for Freckles. She has plenty of hay to eat. We didn't give her much grain this morning for breakfast which seems to confuse her and she kept sniffing my hands when I visited.

I have more questions, but I want to get answers to the nursing thing first, please,

Thank you very much,
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Dear Mouse,

Once the lambs are dry and nursing well you don't need to provide supplemental heat providing they are nursing well. If these were my lambs, I'd say they are nursing well. It is not unsual for them to take a couple swallows and then walk away. I once read that lambs nurse about 30 times a day. Over the past 20 years I have had several lambs that I'm convinced nursed only when I wasn't looking or there to see. Forcing them to nurse only frustrated the shepherdess (me) and annoyed the ewe. Should one or both become hypothermic (<101 degrees), stand hunched and cry then you should check the condition of the ewe's udder whether it's soft and pliable, filled with milk. Evaluate how well she stands for them to nurse. If the udder isn't normal, particularly after the first 3 days or so, or she doesn't allow them to nurse I'd try a small amount of milk replacer. If they take the bottle without too much fuss then yes they may be not getting enough.

For the first 3 days or so I feed the ewes 1/2 lb. whole shell corn per lamb and then increase it to 1 lb. per lamb in addition to 4-6 lbs. second crop legume-grass hay. You probably won't need as much hay as Barbados are smaller than the Hampshires I have.

Don't hesitate to ask if you've more questions.

Good luck,

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Congrats Mouse! A sure fire way to tell if the lambs are getting enough milk is to put your finger in their mouth and feel if is warm. A good secondary indicator is a black tarry stool followed by a yellow feces. This means they have nursed colostrum. The heat lamp shouldn't be required (I hardly use them at all) if they are dry and eating. I prefer jackets for really cold weather to lamps. Anything below 20 degrees (trying to remember farenheight!) and even then its a rare use kind of thing. Cold lambs will stand hunchbacked head down and may even drool somewhat. You'll know instantly if you feel their mouths, or you can take a temperature. I cut the grain for the first 24 hrs to half what the ewe was getting to reduce the odds of her getting acidosis. I also give new borns injections of Vitamin AD and E selenium. (Our area is selenium deficiant, your lambs may not need this)
Wonderful, yes we have yellow feces!!! I have been so worried because this is one of the 2 ewes whose previous owner told me I had to stomach tube the lambs. I'm so happy they're getting colostrum.

So the lambs will be alright in 20-30 deg F nights??? They are so tiny, I can hardly believe it.

When do you let the ewe and her lambs back with the herd? Or do you not?

Thank you,
If you're worried about the cold plug in the light. A quick jacket is easily made from an old felt blanket or even a thick towel. Cut a peice that when folded comes down past their chest and is long enough to cover them from, past their back leg to past their front legs. Cut slits in the blanket big enough to thread the legs through and tie or sew the front closed leaving enough room for the neck. I've heard of using plastic bags but I think they'd capture moisture and chill the lambs. I know I froze in my old rubberized rain coat in fall!

I have 200 ewes so I like to keep my finished work seperate from my work to be done. Some ewes will steal lambs some will butt them, I'm sure they can be reintroduced with care but I don't generally do this.
Your lambs sounds pretty healthy and normal! Even if its below freezing, but the lambs are dry and active, I wouldn't use the heat lamp. You can tell if they've been nursing by feeling their bellies. Most baby mammals that aren't getting enough to eat have sunken bellies, aren't active, and, as Ross said, the inside of their mouths will be cold.
With our lambs, I keep them in a jug for 2-3 days. I dock and tattoo on day 2 or 3 (and I'll castrate too, but I left my lambs intact last spring). If I remember correctly, barbados don't have long tails that need docking (right?). After 2-3 days 12-24 hours after docking, I put 2-3 ewes with lambs in a larger pen (12'x12') together, and then I let them out in a pasture when the lambs are about a week old with other ewes with lambs. Some mothers butt other ewe's lambs, but the lambs learn pretty quickly to stay with their mothers.
Get some sheep books from the library or buy some. I love The Sheep Book by Ron Parker. I'm rereading it right now...its actually an enjoyable book to read, I find, and the most helpful book I've found in getting started with sheep.
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