lambing for the unaware....

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by betty modin, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. betty modin

    betty modin Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Western Oregon's Cascade Range
    Three sheep arrived yesterday. I'm keeping them for a woman in transition...divorce...in exchange for one of them. (a little yearling shetlandX ewe). The two little yearling ewes have been running with the yearling ram since summer. When I agreed to this, the possiblilty was they were not bred...now....it appears I will be lambing late this month, if not sooner. The ewes have not been sheared yet...a show coming... and I don't have the equipment to do so.(she does)
    She has been feeding alfalfa and grass hay with whole corn in the evening. My pasture is clean, no mud and no stock on it for two years. My barn is clean...My question is what should I do to prepare? I've done dairy goats, read the books on sheep....am making a list of lambing supplies from the books and my experience with goats. With good pasture, alfalfa and corn what else should I supplement? With goats I'd have gotten a good molasses COB mix and started it this week. Is this appropriate for the sheep? These are shetlands, but the ewes are small (so is the ram actually). Any ideas?
    BTW, the owner of the pair seems a little more "relaxed" about them than I usually am about my own stock. She assured me that it would just "happen" and everything would be fine. Whatever I do needs to be done to both ewes for my own sake, but with her needs and philosopy in mind. Things happen no matter how you plan, right? betty (this is 'temporary' and I have been getting ready for my own flock which will ready to come 'home' in early May)
     
  2. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    Yearling Shetland ewes w/a yearling Shetland ram - of course they're bred :D Typically, Shetlands are pretty low-maintenance lambers. If you're lambing yearlings, I'd have a set up where you could jug one if you need to (she may be flighty & need some bonding time if she's buzzing around so much the lamb is getting worn out trying to nurse - a fence panel across a corner will do), something to put on the umbilicle, & (if you're being really prepared) a little goat milk & a large puppy nursing bottle in case of problems (unlikely, but possible). They don't need extra feed supplements - mine get pasture & alfalfa, plus free choice salt/mineral. I'd give them a CDT booster, some wormer, & maybe trim around the udders a bit if the fleece is real long. Be careful if the ram's still with them - he may be protective of his ewes & lambs if you're fiddling with them. Shetlands usually just pop their lambs right out, & when you go out to feed, there they are, up, dry & nursing. I've assisted my flock twice - a yearling with a huge ram lamb (that I think she'd have had on her own anyway), & a ewe with triplets (where the last one was breech with a leg back); I've used a bottle twice, when a lamb didn't seem to be nursing well, so I supplemented her for a couple of days, & when a yearling twinned, stepped on one (injuring her neck) & I bottled that one for about 3 days until she was nursing OK. This is out of maybe 60 or 70 Shetland lambs.
     

  3. Taylor

    Taylor Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Indiana
    The salt and mineral for sheep is not quite the same as for goats; the goats can tolerate a little copper, sheep can't. Be sure to get sheep mineral and plain mixing salt. The only other thing is they can't have some of the supplements, like the Golden Goat Blend from Hoegger's, but Shetlands do fine without fancy fixins. Yearlings are kind of clueless at first, so make sure baby doesn't have an empty tummy - and they do really well on goat milk if, heaven forbid, you have to bottle feed one. But usually they get along just fine, and like to surprise you with lambs when you least expect them. They seem to take everything in stride, unlike us human moms who worry about the details. Speaking of which, that's the other great thing about Shetlands - no tail docking. Happy times.
     
  4. betty modin

    betty modin Well-Known Member

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    May 15, 2002
    Location:
    Western Oregon's Cascade Range
    I'm still waiting, they're getting fatter by the day!
    Already the three of them come to the fence and beg to be petted! Even the ram! Do they stay like this, the rams I mean? He's like a big dog, even pushes the ewes aside to get his chin scratched if he thinks I'm giving one of them more attention then he's getting. He isn't pushy toward me, and doesn't really want more than a good chin scratch-and his evening feed of course.
    I've noticed that their vulvar area is getting looser and enlarged...is this an impending sign of lambing like it is with goats? I've got them penned at night in the barn...and out in the daytime. We've had weird spring weather, but predators is the concern. I figure tight fences and in the barn at night beats anything else I could do for them... I can hardly wait....I love babies...betty
     
  5. animal_kingdom

    animal_kingdom Well-Known Member

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    Mar 31, 2005
    Location:
    PA
    my sheep(katahdins), their vulva was "pushed out" quite a bit for about 2-3 weeks before they lambed. It just depends. I would imagine with any animal that the older they get, the more "relaxed" their bodies become and things sag and so forth more each year.

    We have an intercom in the barn and also in the house. We lock the intercom in the barn so it becomes only one way and we hear it in the house constantly until lambing and kidding season is over. Sometimes we catch a ewe but for the most part our sheep are quiet lambers. Mostly we hear after they give birth. The quiet baaaing of the mama to the baby over and over.

    Then we leave it on for about 1 month only at night. If something is out of place, the sheep and goats will get very fussy. I think a month after the last baby is born is good as a rule of thumb.

    Finally when the month is up...I get to sleep!

    Mama