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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Rough & wild start to lambing.

Day 146 was yesterday, so I had planned to start conducting my barn checks a little more frequently.
I went into the barn yesterday around 5:00 a.m. and saw that Alice, one of my Clun Forest ewes, had a white lamb standing between her front legs. Oh goody! Behind her is another lamb. Off in a corner, another. And there's another, and another. I just kept counting and counting in disbelief.
I thought for sure that one of the other Cluns had lambed at the same time, then got run off while Alice claimed all the lambs for herself. But no, Cora and Rosie had clean butts and were plump and contented.
The lambs were shivering. The two smallest were depressed, hunched with lowered heads. The three more robust lambs were trying to nurse off two teats, bumping each other off. Alice was doing her best to get them cleaned up, but this was a lot of work for her.
I swallowed my panic, grabbed some paper towels, and got busy rubbing the lambs and trying to get everyone a chance at some colostrum. I wrestled each one into a plastic lamb coat and hoped that Alice wouldn't reject them.
The two smallest did have warm mouths and a suck reflex. Thank God I had leftover milk replacer from last year. I got them on the bottle for a drink. Then I had to get to work.
I expected the two little lambs to be dead when I got home. Everyone was alive, but they were bawling and obviously in distress.

So we have five Mules, three rams and two ewes. We are supplementing them with frequent bottle feedings. Did I ever mention that I have never, in seven seasons of lambing, even had triplets? I had always dreaded the thought of triplets, and here we are with quintuplets. Tom has nicknamed Alice "Octomom".
I did not flush my flock, and last year Alice twinned. Don't know why this happened. I HOPE that Cora and Rosie, my other Cluns, don't get any ideas.
Alice has shown increasingly waning interest in her lambs. Lying down too much, no nickering or sniffing going on. I figured she was just tired and sore from having so many lambs. Then I observed her limping when she got up, favoring one hind leg. That clued me in. Milk Fever.
So she is on Power Punch, vitamin injections, electrolytes, and calcium gluconate 23%. I have some leftover Banamine from Ock, so I gave her some of that, too. After about 15 minutes, she did stand up and start nickering to the lambs, but she is still limping. I'll keep her going, hopefully, until the vet's office opens Monday morning.
To balance out the disturbing news with some good news. At 10:00 p.m. last night, Niobe's uneventful labor gave me twin moorit gulmoget ewe lambs. I will keep one or both if they are breeding quality, and sell Niobe as planned. I also have her lamb (by Pompey) from last year, so I'll have enough of her genetics in my flock.
Here is one of Niobe's ewe lambs. I'm not going to hold my breath for fine fleeces on these girls, but they look pretty nice other than that.

This afternoon, Carmela was in labor a little too long. Sure enough, a HUGE head was sticking out the back, with only one hoof showing. I pulled a beefcake of a moorit gulmoget ram lamb single, with depressions on his head and no horn buds. Nice conformation, four square. Fleece unfortunately falls off at the heartgirth, but...I'll keep an eye on him anyways. :)
He is pictured above and below. Both Niobe's and Carmela's lambs are by Windy Acres Hickory, a Jamison son out of Shelteringpines Leila.


So my Shetlands are off to a pretty good start, anyways. I'm seriously re-thinking my whole "home meat flock" plans, I think Shetlands have spoiled me with their hardiness.....but have a whole summer to think things over. Those mules are darn cute, they have little donkey heads. I'll get better photos of them once they get up and around a little. They are loving their heat lamp at the moment.

15 comments:

Tammy said...

Good grief. I'm about speechless over that. You did great keeping your head through all of it. Here is hoping the litter survives and their mom regains her health too. Wow.....I'm like you--I just dread the thought of triplets (have had one set here that did fine out of a crossbred ewe). I think I'd totally flip over FIVE! Hang in there and take care.
Tammy

Carol B. said...

Every year I have had one or two sets of triplets out of about ten bred ewes. Usually, the moms raise all three without any help from me. My bottle lamb this year is the exception. In case bottle feeding a few of your quints is necessary, you should know that my lamb has survived on 3 feedings per day even though the recommendation is 4 feedings per day. I give her all she wants when I feed her. She is growing more slowly than her siblings, but she is healthy, and lively. And soon, I should be able to wean her off of the bottle.

Did your Clun ewe get confused and think she was a Finnsheep? LOL. I still can't believe she had quints. And I am hoping Mercedes is only going to have triplets again this year.

So cool to see Hickory's lambs. I hope you are still liking that ram.

Franna said...

OMG!!! Even our Finnsheep have only had quads! Octomom... I love it :-)
Very cute gulmogets.

I hope Alice and the quints do well! Some Finn breeders I know recommend bottling 2x daily and leaving the lambs with the flock. I haven't had much success with that method - the lambs (trips and 1 set of quads) have gotten enough from mom and don't want the bottles.

- Franna

Gail V said...

OH my god, Juliann.
I didn't know Cluns did this! I hope all babies fare well, but especially the ewe.
Good job keeping a cool head.
Are you sure heat lamps are a good idea? I just read a vet's article saying they were more danger than they were worth. . .
but, you do have five babies!
Again, congratulations.

Garrett808 said...

i still can't believe you had 5 mule lambs.

I am really pissed for myself, but happy for you that you have THREE moorit gulmogets so far! You and Michelle! 3 for 3 with gulmogets! Not fair! :) Will either of Niobe's girls be Ag as well? :) :) I still want an Ag gulmoget

Becky Utecht said...

Congrats on all your lambs Juliann. Three moorit gulmogets too! Gees girl, you're killing me. I hope Alice continues to do well and all her babies too. I wonder if you could train them to supplement their nursing on a bucket with multiple nipples rather than bottlefeed them individually.

Jen and Rich Johnson said...

They look really nice to me! Nice work!

I had heard that the cluns can have quads and quints, but my goodness!

Rich

Juliann said...

Thank you everyone for the comments. :) As of this morning, the lambs are doing very well. Alice is still lame, but is at least standing up more readily now. The yahoo mule group folks were a big help in guiding her treatment.
I'll keep hitting her with the calcium.
Gail, I didn't Cluns were apt to do this, either. Rosie threw twins last night, so I'm relieved about that. Still waiting on Cora.
I don't like using heat lamps, but we've used them occasionally for years, for chicks, donkey foals, and the babydolls needed them. We take all the precautions (low watt, ceramic base, cage, hung securely, away from anything flammable.) We're extremely cautious with them, and only use them as a last resort. I'd be happy to never use them again, though. I always worry.
Garratt, no Ag's. :) The sire is moorit, so Niobe could only pass on her Ag or her gul. Out of five lambs, she has always passed on teh gul, no Ag. Beating the odds, there.
I'm not a huge Ag fan, but I share your love for Ag guls. They are true eye candy. I'm sure there will be an ag gul out there with your name on it one of these days. :) Niobe isn't fine fleeced, I'm sure she isnt' what you're looking for, but keep looking!
Becky, I thought about getting one of those bottle feeding racks, maybe when they are a little older. Right now, they are fixating on me for the bottles. And it's not so bad. Gives me an excuse to stay home for the next two months, lol.

Juliann said...

Oh Carol, I wanted to add thank you for the bottle feeding info. I thought I had to feed them every 2-3 hours and I've been wearing myself out keeping them fed.
I'm having a badly needed pot of coffee. I'm so chilled and tired. But you know what, I still love lambing.
Oh, and I LOVE Hickory! These particular ewes arn't fine fleeced, I wasn't expecting fine fleeces out of them. I'm really trying to get better conformation as a priority, and will work on fleece as I can. :)

Corinne R. said...

OMG, Juliann! I think I will stick with the Shetlands, I stress out enough over TWINS! Good luck, my friend : ).

Nancy K. said...

Good LORD! You poor thing. How are you holding up?

Like you're ever gonna eat any of them......


;-)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I was shocked enough to see a twin last night out of Brava, which she waited for several hours after her first lamb to deliver; I can't imagine counting FIVE! Congrats on the beautiful moorit gulmogets (we should start a club :-) even though that ram lamb looks nothing like a newborn!

I may get that Ag gulmoget out of Butter for Garrett. But how do you tell if you have an Ag gulmoget? They already have light ears, bellies and "sugar lips" from the At; where do you look to see the Ag???

Juliann said...

Hi Michelle,

You'll have the part the fleece after a week or so and see if lighter color is coming in. I've only had one, and he kept me guessing for a little while.
If you think that's confusing, gul-kats are even worse! :)

stephen rouse said...

the little brown gulmoget looks really nice! :-)

Terri D. said...

You are one fine shepherdess! Good job and congrats on all your wonderful lambs. I am so jealous! ;-)