The time leading up to lambing and for a short time afterwards is stressful to me. I worry the ewes aren’t getting enough supplemental feed in their third trimester – or too much. I worry something will go terribly wrong during lambing and we’ll lose the lamb, and possibly, the ewe. I worry that post lambing the lambs will get too cold or not get enough colostrum. I worry that the ewe will develop mastitis. I worry that everyone will get parasites. And on, and on, and on. It’s kind of how I am in life, in general, so I don’t expect any amount of experience will completely remove the stress but I am finding that with each subsequent year, I realize that, unlike my life, this is nature. And nature, for the most part, just happens – without human intervention.
That being said, while some level of qualified human intervention will likely increase the chances of survival, the paramount question is when do we intervene vs. let nature take its course?
In hindsight, we definitely should have intervened and pulled Pretty’s second lamb out within an hour of the first being born – and not waited seven. (Duh, sounds so obvious now…) We should have intervened and milked colostrum out of all the ewes and fed it to the lambs within a few hours if we weren’t satisfied they were getting it themselves. And lastly, we should take them to the vet when our gut instinct tells us no amount of googling will resolve the issue.
The three lambs born to Pretty and Chubb all ended up with scours and one with pneumonia. Medication from the vet (sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim…who knew I could get an Rx for my lamb filled at Walgreens!) cleared up the scours within two days. While we are still working to get rid of the pneumonia (three injections of Biomycin and two, so far, of Nuflor), I’m certain that level of intervention was our only chance to ensure a healthy outcome.
So ends the stressful period. About seventy-two hours post lambing is when I can relax. The lambs are nursing on a regular basis and their energy level is high.
They are racing around the snowless portions of the paddock, chasing chickens, and climbing on their mothers’ backs when they are trying to get a few minutes of rest. And, it wouldn’t be life on the farm without the whole flock breaking through the electric fencing (off for the winter) and into the garden!