Its been an overly dramatic week down at the sheep field with the usual highs and lows as we prepare for lambing. The ewes are generally strong but there is a fine line between healthy and dead in the ovine world.
We have 12 ewes due to lamb over a 3 week period that should start around the 21st March. Since the ram is still in the field with them the simple morning check on arrival to feed the flock is to count up to 3, four times and then spot one more, trust me its easier than trying to count up to 13. I arrived early on Mother’s Day, Sunday 6th March, and the simple check failed, where was the extra one? Sadly she was found dead and cold, she seemed to have gone into premature labour and had some complications so much earlier than I could have expected but so frustrating. She had seemed quite healthy and strong and was not one of the ones I had been keeping an extra eye on, so much for my experience.
My level of pre-lambing paranoia then kicked in and visits to the field became more frequent and food quantities were checked and double checked. A couple of sheep had been a bit lame but I was trying to avoid the distress of intervening with the nail clippers and purple spray until they had lambed. One particular ewe was suffering more than the others and was already on the weak/skinny side of ideal, when they go lame it can slow their feeding down, so they get even weaker and are prone to infection setting in, which makes them feed even less and they can quickly end up dead. So I trimmed and sprayed the her feet which had a noticeable effect – now she wouldn’t walk at all!
When she subsequently started refusing food altogether the expensive call was made to the vet. Thanks to Georgina from Broughton Veterinary Practice a few jabs later and the ewe was back on her feet and currently seems to be back on the healthy side of the thin line of ovine life.
The beautiful sunny weekend concluded with a Sunday spent getting a lambing shed/gazebo ready so it feels like we are ready to go. A cheap white plastic gazebo has been strapped tightly to some sheep hurdles and bales of hay and straw, it should keep rain and modest winds at bay but I just hope we done have any more named storms rolling through which will certainly take away all our hard work. Just need light winds and the 11 remaining ewes to stay alive and get on with giving birth on time. Watch this space for lambing live updates.