Lambing, 11.4.17

My fourth day was extremely hectic following the usual morning tasks (such as changing all of the water buckets).

After jumping into the trailer behind the quad, the quad set off to do the morning field check. As we had a demand for pet lambs in the barn, I started off collecting a single lamb from each twin set. Conveniently, I spotted a ewe straining, mid-delivery with a lambs legs presented. The vet student restrained the ewe as I carefully pulled the forelegs out before gently pulling the head. Once the lamb was in the correct position, I held the legs with one hand and the head with the other and pulled. The lamb was dead, so we swiftly selected a lamb from the trailer to wet mother. The ewe and adopted lamb then stayed in the pen in the field.

 Another ewe in the field had a lamb presented backwards, so I was given the necessary advice to get the lamb out as quick as possible to increase survival chances. The lamb was unresponsive so I swung it upside down (which felt very strange). This is to drain fluid, a lamb should cough/splutter as it begins to breathe. Sadly, the lamb did not respond. Fortunately we had plenty of pet lambs in the quad so could wet mother.

Moving sheep down the road was a large calculated task, with all of the lambing staff and farmers blocking off lanes to drive the sheep forward in the right direction. The look on people’s faces when their car was in a sea of sheep was amusing. I walked along side the sheep to take those struggling to walk and wrestle them into the trailer.



When I got back to the barn, I took responsibility for the pet lambs. On this particular day, there was an array of accidents and illnesses.

One lamb was found with a fox bite in the back of its neck which was sprayed with purple spray. I have used this on a sheep with an open wound before and have later researched that it is gentian violet spray. It is an antiseptic for wounds which target a wide spectrum of microorganisms.

Another lamb had been attacked by a crow and had its eye pecked out. I administered 1ml of pen (pencillin) and strep (streptomycin) intramuscularly. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic against gram positive and gram negative bacteria. I also gave the lamb loxicom which is an anti-inflammatory and pain relief. We remained hopeful as the farmer had experience with sheep that had survived similar attacks, but unfortunately despite our best efforts, the lamb passed away.

The next lamb patient of mine had raspy breathing. Newborn lambs are exposed to pneumonia-causing microorganisms,  but have passive immunity from the colostrum. This is one of the risks of a lamb not ingesting a sufficient volume of colostrum and why pet lambs are more susceptible. I administered 0.5ml of pen and strep intramuscularly.

The other pet lambs were stomach tube fed and we constantly monitored how well they were recovering. Whilst I was busy caring for the lambs, a vet student had an interesting case of inserting a spoon for a ewe as she had a vaginal prolapse prior to lambing. When docking tails, I had to ensure they were not too short as this increases the risk of vaginal prolapses.

The farmer showed me the ‘spoon’ that he uses to re-insert prolapses. It was a strange concept to grasp at first that this unusual plastic object was the opted solution. More severe cases require veterinarian assistance to insert a Buhner suture to retain the prolapse, I learned about this method on my lambing technique day course.

I have read that uterine prolapses typically occur post-lambing of a large lamb or caused by straining  due to an infection from lambing intervention. It was great to learn from the first year vet students.

A ewe was brought in that required my assistance to lamb, I flicked a front leg forward and our and could place my hand gently on the back of the lamb’s head. However, confusion struck when I explained that I believed that the other front leg was backwards and the response was ”Oh, like Superman!”.

With my focus on lambing, I thought that superman had both arms forwards so worried that I had felt a different position… I got the lamb out quickly after superhero flying deliberation. I had correctly identified the lamb’s position which was the main thing :D.

Even when I was indoors, there were many opportunities to lamb as the shearlings in the pen were due singles. So I lambed and wet mothered many.
It was a long day when lambs were born with complications in the evenings as the pet lambs needed stomach tube feeding before I could go to sleep- but I loved every moment.

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