Easter: Storms and a deluge of lambs
The Easter weekend was a busy time. After Good Friday, wind and pouring rain set in, making working conditions very difficult. The ewes chose this time to lamb, they were just popping out. Normally I have about ten pens set up, but very quickly sixteen pens were full and I was having to find space in all sorts of places. As the ewes lamb I put them in a clean pen with water and haylage. I keep an eye on whether the lamb starts to feed as it is very important that it has enough colostrum in the first 24 hours. If the lamb seams reluctant I intervene, milking the ewe and getting some milk into the lamb. I get the lamb to suck on my finger, gently and slowly releasing the milk. This is so that it goes down the right way and not into the lungs. This gives the lamb a bit of energy and I then spend time helping the lamb latch onto the ewes teats. If this doesn't work, I have to use a stomach tube so that the milk goes straight down into the stomach.. After a day or two I give the ewe a general check over, feet, tags, and dagging (cleaning up the rear end) and if all is ok they can then go out into the field by day and a barn at night.
On top of this, I keep an eye on the ewes that are lambing, making sure that they are alright. I only step in to help when it is obvious that there is a problem. This can be for various reasons, legs back, backwards, head and shoulders too big. To start with, work out what the problem is and gently but firmly ease the lamb out, only pulling with the ewes contractions. If you just pull it can harm the ewe and/or the lamb. Sometimes the lamb is well and truly stuck, just rotating slightly the position can unlock the lamb. Quite often in a difficult birth the lamb isn't breathing. There are various methods to kick start the breath. Massage, holding the lamb upside down, pumping the back legs. If the ewe seams exhausted and out of it, I massage the lamb with straw, bundle it up and place it by the mother's head, ready for her to take some notice.
I had a couple of friends staying over Easter, they were a great help with strawing up, watering and feeding. Plus Elinor is at home at the moment and gives me a hand when I need it.