This time I'll listen to ya

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Jan in CO, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Last year, I posted about one of our mostly Shetland ewes, that gave birth to four lambs, only one of which was alive. All were covered in really YELLOW goo, more so than any other birthings, and I wondered what it was.
    Experienced advice from here was to cull her. I didn't, and took my chances and bred her to our Polypay/Finn ram. We've spent the last week working with her round the clock, giving her nutridrench and calcium supplements, as she was 'la-la'. Hasn't eaten for three days, except for a couple stems of hay.

    This morning, she finally went into labor, and surprise! We successfully helped deliver three live lambs, one ewe and two rams. All good sized, and healthy. The mom still is pretty shaky on her feet, and I'm not sure she'll produce enough milk to take care of the two ram lambs, but we're monitoring it. Gave them all colostrum we had in the freezer as well as nutridrench, and so far, so good. I WON'T breed the ewe again, tho. Hard on her, I'm sure and hard on us going out every few hours making her get up and giving her fluids. If this were a big operation, I can see why it would have been wiser to cull her, as a person just wouldn't have time to do the time and labor intensive care of the ewe that it took. I'm glad tho, that we did have live lambs this time. Just wanted to update. Jan in Co
     
  2. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

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    To be brutally honest with you, I'd not only cull her, but we'd eat the 2 ram lambs but probably the ewe lamb too. Sounds like a genetic problem to me, and I'd hate to go through it again with the ewe lamb.

    Why take the chance the ewe lamb is not either carrying something bad or worse has the same problems lambing?

    Sorry but that's my 2 cents

    Pat
     

  3. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    I agree 100%
     
  4. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    I'd probably cull, but for different reasons. Quads and triplets aren't that common in Shetlands. She's "mostly Shetland" -- but what else is bred into her? How big is she? A straight Polypay is easily 4 times bigger than a straight Shetland, and it would be like breeding a Chihuahua to a German Shepherd to make a cross like that. If the ewe has some Finn blood, which would contribute to the multiple births, then perhaps she's just a bit bigger, and the ram is just a bit smaller than a pure Polypay, but still......that seems like a cross that's asking for problems.

    I don't want to sound condescending! But when crossing breeds with very different characteristics, it's important to understand just how the different breeds will influence the outcome, and this ewe sounds as though she's genetically programmed to have lots of lambs at once, and then she's been bred to a ram that gives her babies that demand more than she has to give as they're developing in utero. Pregnant sheep are designed to give up virtually all of thier body condition to support developing lambs, and this ewe may just have a genetic set of circumstances that her system just isn't capable of supporting.

    As for the dark yellow lambs the first year ----We have always had several lambs a year born with the dark yellow "goo" on them, and we don't see any connection to losses. I'm not satisfied in my own mind whether the dark coating (sometimes deep orange) has to do with the ewe's nutrition, or whether the lambs are "overdue," but we have healthy lambs born with the dark coating and don't worry about it.
     
  5. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To clarify a bit on why I didn't cull her last year, she is out of a full Shetland mother, and is half again the size of her dam. Her sire was half Shetland, 1/4 Ramboulet, and 1/4 Marino. The Shetland ewe she is out of, as well as all her sister ewes have been excellent mothers, no lambing problems what so ever. I hoped last year's fiasco was just a quirk, but she obviously can't support multiple lambs. She's not one of the most personable or tame ewes we have, so I won't have any heartburn over culling her after the lambs are weaned.

    I understand the concept of not breeding a small ewe to a large ram, etc. The Polypay/Finn ram is small for either breed, which according to the breeder I got him from, was caused by being low ram on the totem pole, and not getting the groceries as he was growing. He definitely isn't shy or low on the roster around here tho! We've had 13 lambs out of 5 ewes so far this year, so lots to sell. Thanks for the ideas and comments! I do appreciate them!

    Jan in Co
     
  6. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Jan, the yellow/mustard coloured goo is quite normal and nothing to worry about.

    I know nothing about Shetlands, Polypay or Ramboulet so can't comment on your breeding. However, from what you say I strongly suspect that your ewe had Sleepy Sickness (Pregnancy Toxemia/Twin Lamb Disease), a common problem in multiple birthing ewes and your very lucky that your ewe hasn't died - and she still could. It is caused by insufficient feed to a ewe growing more than one lamb. Her body begins to utilise fats and carbohydrates with the result that there is a drop in the level of blood sugar. The rapid growth of the unborn lambs in the late stages of pregnancy forces the ewe to draw heavily on fat reserves if the energy supply in her food is not adequate.

    Try dosing her with propylene glycol or glycerine mixed with an equal amount of water twice a day for four days. I would also suggest removing at least one of the lambs, if not two. If you have grass, move her to the best you have even if it means having to put up with her on the front lawn.

    Culling? No, I wouldn't but would be more aware of her requirements next time round. Make sure that she isn't over fat in early pregnancy and don't let the food supply dwindle or remain static as pregnancy progresses. If she is going to be a constant multiple birther, she needs to be a a rising food plane.

    You are well into your winter. Perhaps it would be better to have this ewe bred so that she was to lamb in the late spring when grass is more readily available?

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  7. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    Jan,

    Congrats on your new lambs, how are they doing today ?
    If the ewe is shakey she probably could use some calcium (sub Q or orally), and B vitamins. What kind of condition score would you say she is ?
    What has she been eating ?
    If a ewe is carrying and raise multiples, she needs to be fed extremely well in the grocery department.
    The lambs probably need to be fed/supplemented to thrive and give mom time to catch up.

    Deb
     
  8. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Actually, I have increased all of their feed, especially with the cold, not to mention pregnancies, so I think she's had adequate feed, she just doesn't or can't eat enough to sustain herself. Have been doing the poly glycol treatments, (actually, I called it Nutridrench, but same thing, basically, as I add a bit of mollasses, etc.). I'll give her some B today too. Even tho she has food in front of her, she is just nibbling a bite here and there. I think the later breeding would have been a good idea, but USUALLY we don't have much of a winter here, and seldom have snow. This year has been an exception. While I'm glad for the moisture for pastures, it's been a bear!

    Thanks for the ideas! Jan in CO
     
  9. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just wanted to say that the yellow goo is quite normal. It is not indicative of a problem in itself. Sometimes their born that way and sometimes their not. :)
     
  10. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    yep, I remember mentioning this last year :)

     
  11. mawalla

    mawalla Well-Known Member

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    The yellow goo is a sign that the lamb has passed some meconium while in utero. I see it a lot with the multiple births and with large lambs that take a bit longer to slide out into this big, bad world.
     
  12. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Update on my update! The ewe, Sweetpea is recovering nicely, eating again, thank heavens! Her lambs are in the barn and on the lamb bar, so a save all the way around. Thanks for all the good advice, I really appreciate it! I'll have to think about whether or not to breed her again, and if so, I'll keep her in a pen with more docile companions so she doesn't get pushed away from the feed, and I can monitor it better. Also would breed for later lambs from her, as suggested. Jan in CO