You see, I knew next to nothing about the concept of lambing–still know next to nothing, to be honest.  As far as I understood it, here are some basic steps.

First, some background knowledge: Sheep farming is seasonal.  (You’re going to hear a bit of the vet student coming through right about now.)  Without going into the birds and the bees too deeply, you know within a few days when your entire flock is going to lamb.  If you want them to come early, e.g., so the lambs are ready for the Easter market, you synch them.  (Using hormonal therapy–this is one of my favourite parts of dairy and sheep farming.)

1. Get the ewes in from the field just before they’re ready to lamb.

2. Put them in holding pens.

3. If they lamb in the pen, that’s wonderful! If they and their offspring seem to be doing fine, let them there until it’s time to take the little family back out to the field.

4. If there are any complications with the parturition, then you bring the ewe out into a lambing pen.

I feel all maternal and warm and fuzzy about these lambs–the mother was my first ovine obstetrical patient!

5. Aren’t these darling?  They’re called the pets.  For whatever reason, their mothers couldn’t feed them, so they are fed by bottle (or stomach tubes) until they are able to hold their own and suckle out of the “automatic feeder.”  For example, the mother had triplets, and can only feed two lambs.  There are lots of sad reasons that a lamb becomes a pet, though.

6. Twenty-four hours after birth, all going well, the mom and her family are taken back to the fields.  This time they’re not herded into a big trailer, but rather, they get personalized care and VIP treatment.

8. The field is full of other new mothers, too.

9. Ewes don’t often need good fences, but lambs sure do!  If they get through the fence, well, marine biology would come into play.

10 It really was quite a cliff!

What to do when one ewe has triplets (she can feed a maximum of two lambs)… but another ewe has a single?  Next up: adoption.