Changing the water and topping up the hay is a big job with so many sheep indoors! Especially when there are lambs constantly having to be fed, sheep being moved around the barn and lambs to iodine and spectam when they’re rushed in. Escapee lambs also don’t make the task any easier, fitting through the bars to stand in the hay in the circle feeders.
As last year’s lambs were going to the abattoir, I bedded down the large pen with straw with a fork with the vet student.
There were more lambs to castrate and tail dock inside, in the pen waiting to be lead into the field. The first rubber band castration I did went abysmally, neither testicles were in the scrotum beneath the rubber ring, I took it off and had a successful second attempt. It is vital that I redid it, if the testicle is retained then it can still be fertile.
Whilst I was busy working in the barn mothering on pet lambs to the sheep brought in, a shearling began lambing in the single shearling pen in the barn. This was the prime opportunity to wet mother one of the pet lambs so she believed she had twins. Pulling the lamb out and squeezing the birthing fluids onto the pet lamb tricks the ewe into thinking both are her own due to the smell. Once the pet lamb was coated in fluid, it was placed in a pen with the ewe whilst her actual lamb was taken away for a while to allow her to bond with the second lamb. During my time lambing, there was a high success rate with wet mothering, and it was a quick and easy process albeit messy.
One of my favourite times of the day was going out on the quad because you never knew what would be happening in the fields! It was hit and miss, but this time I was able to get stuck in with many cases.
If any of the ewes have been lambing since the last field check or are straining with no presentation of a lamb at the vulva, we need to intervene. Other times intervention is needed are when the ewe has stopped straining, if the lamb appears in an unusual position and if they had been scanned for more lambs than have been delivered.
A ewe was running around with a lamb’s head popping out, so we rounded her up, then I caught and tipped her. As she had green marker on her back, she was scanned for twins. So once I had pulled the first out, I went back in for the second. We watched from a distance to check that the mother had accepted her lambs and was licking them clean before continuing the field check. We picked up many dead and stillborn lambs, and took the mothers of them back to the farm so pet lambs could be mothered on to them.
A lamb was shivering and appeared to be very weak, so I brought her inside to place under the heat lamp and to bottle feed. Lambs are born with enough energy only for the first 6 hours from brown fat, and lambs born outside are vulnerable and may get hypothermia. I learned on the lambing course that if they are younger than 5 hours old, to warm the lamb up and tube warm colostrum. However, if they’re older than 5 hours old to do an intraperitoneal glucose injection half an inch to the side and down from the navel. But all of the cases I saw were treated with TLC.
I then found myself with a difficult lambing of a single- the ewe’s sharp pelvic floor and she was tight. It was difficult to pull the head into the vagina. A large lamb in a first-time-mother gimmer was the problem.
I found that the most frequent lamb problem was watery mouth. On the farm this was treated with alamycin which is a broad spectrum antibiotic. 1ml intramuscular injection in the thigh muscle and 1ml orally. In the busy environment, I learned to draw up medication in syringes quickly and to dose correctly under pressure.