Friday, March 2, 2012

Birth of a Lamb

This post features photos of a lamb being born.  If you are squeamish or do not wish to view somewhat graphic material, do not scroll down.
This afternoon one of Monique's katahdin ewes (#816 aka Freckles) delivered her lamb quietly in the large 'birthing' jug as I stood outside with a few of the other sheep.  The grey rubbermaid bin you see in the shots contains our lambing supplies, close at hand.  I shot this series of pictures with my iPhone from outside the jug, observing without intruding and causing her anxiety.

The ewe had been showing signs of labor for 24 hours and we were getting concerned about her.

Freckles had been very agitated in the jug alone so I dumped some alfalfa outside her jug so she could see and hear the other ewes.  She visibly relaxed.

With the ewes close by Freckles settled down and started on the task at hand.

When the ewe feels contractions & pushes she puts her nose in the air, often pulling her lips back, making silly faces.  I think about when I delivered my 10 lb 9 oz son, naturally, in 45 minutes from first contraction to delivery.  Making silly faces was the least of my worries, I am sure I figured out many new ways to conjugate various 4 letter expletives.

Once she started pushing the ewe got up and began to push in earnest, taking a few steps, pushing and squatting.  You can see the lamb beginning to emerge. 

She gets up, lies down, pushes, gets up again....

More pushing.  I am reminded of being told to walk to further labor with my daughter.  I adamantly refused, fully convinced my legs were being ripped off my body and would not work if I were to leave my bed.  This ewe makes it look so easy. 

The head and shoulders have passed, the rest slips easily to the straw below, all done without one swear word or screaming the Lord's name in vain.

She lies down as the lamb slips from the birth canal and begins to vigorously lick the lamb clean.  

Sadly as she is licking the lamb, a stillborn lamb passes in the straw which I quickly remove to examine later.  As it turns out the lamb did not stand a chance of survival - it was not fully formed - probable disrupted attachment.  Likely another victim from the dog attack. This is the ewe that survived the mauling.  We are fortunate she did not lose both lambs.  It is a testament of her strength. 

She is a good mother, cleaning and bonding with her lamb.  The act of licking stimulates the lamb to breath as well as helps to dry it off. 

Within minutes the lamb is cleaned of most the birth fluids and on it's feet.

We had to enter the jug to clip the umbilical cord and check the lamb.  Mom is none to pleased. 

She continues to lick her lamb, encouraging it to nurse.

The lamb makes her way to the back, where she latches on.

Another adorable ewe lamb.  I love her badger markings. 

What a nice way to end a week.  

 2 down, 20 more ewes to go.


The Green Dogs said...

That lamb is seriously cute!

But do you know what's really annoying? When the ewes run off without licking their lambs. Can be a nightmare.

I'm glad Freckles is a good mummy!

Karen said...

What an interestingly marked lamb! Glad it all went well, well except for the stillborn:(

Versailles Rose said...

Just wonderful. The lamb is beautiful.

The girl behind the lens said...

I've been helping a friend who has Finnsheep lamb out always..haven't been out as much yet this year, but it's always a joy.

Finns, though, we wind up handing a lot of the lambs, and scoping out a lot of the births...they have large litters, and they're kind of fragile little creatures... It's always fun! Not squeamish at all, here...just envious of how great your shots are! :)