Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lamb Photos and a Big Owl

We still have no new lambs, Prancer and Vixen were the last. We suspect Veronica is next, she's at least showing signs.

For anyone out there (this is for you, Mo) that raises sheep and hasn't lambed yet, here are some signs to watch for. The size of the sheep really isn't the issue - Betty barely looked pregnant, and we though Alice was going to give birth 2 MONTHS ago. It's the size of their utters that matter. Especially if the sheep has never lambed before, she won't have distended utters until she needs to. Poor Shirley, who has had 4 batches of lambs with us - she never fully shrinks back between. But they won't fill with milk until they need to. So watch the utters. At one point, you'll think "woah those are big," but no, wait a little longer. When they look almost abnormal, like enormous water balloons that look like they could burst - then you are getting close. Those things will swell up very noticeably and fast just before the lamb is born. There will also be some fluid leakage, but this can start happening days in advance. To know she is actively going into labor, she'll start pawing the ground - trying to make a comfy spot to lay. She may seclude herself from the others, and seek shelter, someplace quiet and private. And she'll pace a LOT. She may even be in labor before she ever lays down to push. You may see hooves sticking out.

I can only speak for my mixed breed of Suffolk, Dorper and Katahdin. These ladies need no assistance. As a matter of fact, the less we interfere the better. We ave never isolated our girls, but in the winter, I do like to lock them in a stall, alone with their lambs with some food and water. I lock them alone so the other sheep don't steal the oats and hay! And in the winter, that keeps the lambs protected from the cold, and gives them all time to bond. A day of that, and they are good to go. It's best to stay hands off. If you handle the lambs, then the mom may abandon them. They bond through scent, and the biggest bonding time is when mom cleans off the lambs. That's how they learn each other's smells and sounds. If you interfere, by cleaning the lamb, or bottle feeding the lamb, then you may create a permanent detachment. The only thing I would encourage - for a first time mama ewe, is to get in and break the wax plug off her teats, to make sure her milk can flow. Then back away and let nature do it's thing. It can take some time for mama to finish cleaning a lamb, and she may not let it drink until she's done. But mom and baby know what to do, so just sit back and watch. Once you see baby latch on and drink, there's nothing left to worry about.

OK, enough of that lecture...

Here's my little lamby playing with all the little lambies.

I also managed to catch a few pictures of this giant owl that's been hanging around. He's huge, this picture shows no justice. But he's perched atop our grain bin, and he had no qualms with me approaching, with my flash going off! Still didn't manage to get a good shot of him, it was getting dark too quickly.