first time lambing assistant

first time lambing assistant

Monday, 18 April 2016

No more lambs

So we have reached the end of lambing! Although all of our ewes have now given birth, I am still having to check on them every day and bottle feed those who do not have mothers (the twins and Fleecy).

Fleecy is doing very well with the newly fitted splints and I am hoping that Fleecy will be able to go into the field with the remaining ewes and lambs once bottle feeding is no longer necessary.

The little black faced lamb in the photo on top of the hay ring has started eating hay and grass. He is technically an orphan but we went around the barn stealing milk from other ewes until he found one which adopted him.

He is currently in a field outside of the house (I can actually see him as I type). He is in there with two ewes and his adopted lamb sibling. The three bottle fed lambs were in there too, but I moved them back into the barn as I was worried that Fleecy might be a "sitting duck" for a fox.

They have a little igloo which they can go in to shelter from the rain as you can see from the photos. This was put in the field for the bottlefed lambs as they are not able to shelter next to a ewe.

I am currently bottle feeding them 4 times a day and they are gaining weight quickly! I won't transfer them into a field however until I am happy with Fleecy's mobility. I do not wish to split them up as they have been together since they were only a few days old and stick together wherever they go.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Eye infection

We took Fleecy and another sick lamb to the vets today. Fleecy still cannot walk properly on her fore legs but we have been advised to make some splints out of foam pipe insulation to straighten the legs -  there is still hope. I will take some photos of the splints once we have found some pipe insulation.

The other lamb (un-named as it is not bottle fed) has a condition called New Forest Eye. It cried in the truck all the way to the vets for its mum. Its eyelids have a bacterial infection and became full of pus. She had to have an injection into her eyelid and we are to apply cream to its eyes every other day. The condition can be very contagious so we need to act quickly. If left untreated, lambs with this condition can go blind.

We spent today moving ewes and lambs out of the barn, ear tagging them and transporting them into a solar park to graze. We had lovely weather for this - 15 degrees and very sunny.

In the trailer we had one white ewe lamb with a black leg - pretty unusual but still very cute.

When we got to the solar park, we unloaded the stock and drove around the park to check that everything was ok. We had a sighting of a fox, but Archie thinks that the lambs are too large at this stage for a fox to risk snatching as the ewes can be very aggressive. Our collie, Fen, has run into trouble with mothering ewes on quite a few occasions.

I am pleased to report that we did not find any dead lambs in the park.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Going solo

Last week I was left to look after the whole flock whilst Archie was working away. This meant that I really had to step up to the mark.

The best bit of last week was when I spotted a breech birth and managed to run and catch the ewe, straddle her and pull the lamb out by myself. I didn't actually have time to find any gloves or the lubricant, but I knew I had to get on with it. There is a photo of the breeched lamb before I pulled it out below.

The biggest low was finding a ewe dead under a tree. I wish I knew how she died but it is an unknown. Her two twin lambs were using her body as a wind shelter and were crying for milk. I felt so awful taking them both back to the farm away but they are very strong lambs and are bottle feeding really well. They are the ones standing up under the heat lamp in the photo.

I am currently bottle feeding four lambs; the orphaned twins, Fleecy and one new one as of today. The latest addition is incredibly weak and is being stomach tubed.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Fleecy and the rotten lambs

I noticed half a lamb hanging from its mother this afternoon, tail first. I was not able to catch the ewe by myself, so my friend Olivia and our collie Fen rounded her up and caught her.

The lamb was completely black. Archie later informed me that this meant that the lamb would have died a while ago. Certainly its back legs were pretty gelatinous.

Olivia was brilliant and pulled the lamb out straight away. It was stillborn and its stomach was distended. There was a twin inside the ewe but neither of us could feel its second leg.

Archie pulled it out later but it was also black and stillborn. The second lamb did not have a rib cage and was not fully formed sadly.

Pain relief and penicillin were administered to the ewe.

In other lambing news, one of the Romney ewes had triplets today. One of the triplets has deformed joints unfortunately and is unlikely to ever walk properly. We took her back with us to bottle feed her as we were concerned that she would be left behind by her mother. I called her Fleecy (she is the fluffy white lamb in the dog basket in the photo). We are hoping to try and work with the deformity to encourage her to use her legs properly.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Romney ewes have started lambing

Arch and I walked through our Romney ewes (indigenous to Kent) yesterday to find that one of them had started to give birth. These ewes are on a separate site and were not due to give birth until mid April so we were quite surprised. They are lovely ewes and very docile.

I also got stuck in with an assisted birth back on the farm yesterday. One of the legs had not come through, so the lamb had to be pushed back inside, so its leg could be found before pulling it out. The massive orange disposable gloves are really for calving, but I am not yet comfortable lambing without gloves - give me time!

We have been very lucky with the mild weather recently, but the wet weather that we are due to have over the next few days will mean that we will need to be extra vigilant, as we do not want to leave any newborns out in the field as they could suffer from hypothermia.

You can purchase biodegradable plastic jackets for newborns, but Archie is yet to be convinced....


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Assisted bull calf birth

I returned to Stodmarsh today to witness a breech birth of a bull calf. James and his brother, Laurie, used a calving jack to assist with the birth, as the calf was facing the wrong way around. I have uploaded a video so you can see the calf being born.

I am disappointed with myself that I did not feel the unborn calf when James offered. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous because it was not a straight forward birth.

I am hoping to be more "hands on" next time.

The bull calf was a great size and he stood up very soon.

A little green plastic ring was tied around his leg for identification purposes. This will be replaced with ear tags once the calf is a bit older.

Monday, 21 March 2016


I spent this afternoon at my friend's farm in Stodmarsh helping tag their calves. I have not previously worked with cattle, so this will be good practice for when I go to visit my soon to be father-in-law on the Isle of Skye with his beef herd.

Some of the calves had ducked under the electric fencing and were sheltering in some nearby turnips. This meant that we did not instantly know who their mothers were, which we needed to record. The solution was to walk each calf back into the field and wait for their mother to find them so that we could update our records.

The heffer calf in the photo needed some extra milk so I was more than happy to bottle feed her.

Unfortunately, I was 10 minutes too late to watch an assisted birth with a calving jack, so I do not have any photos of this, but the equipment itself is pretty hefty.

On the lambing front, we are just about half way through now. 50 more in the field by the farmhouse and then a further 58 near Ramsgate.