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Spring Bottle Babies

Posted 4/25/2010 1:50pm by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

Most of the time lambing goes pretty smoothly but sometimes things are a little more complicated.  Last week I checked on the flock in the morning and found two new lambs and a ewe in labor.  The one lamb was being taken care of but the other one, while obviously cleaned and dried, was wandering around aimlessly, crying for its mother.  We've learned to watch and wait before intervening, but when I returned to the barn mid-morning the lamb still had not been claimed.  It is easy to tell if a ewe has recently lambed.  Her udder is full and a little bloody and if she has normal mothering instinct, she is distracted, nickering, and licking her lips.  Except for the ewe guarding her big, single lamb and the one that had by now just given birth, there were no others showing signs of having lambed.  Most likely the ewe with the single had in fact had twins, got separated from the first one, and focused totally on the second one in interim.   So... we gained another bottle lamb.   We now have three.  

The day before we put down a ewe because of a torn uterus.   An immediate c-section saved the lamb; a strapping ram who is doing surprisingly well.  We milked some colostrum from another ewe and gave him enough for a healthy start  Our third bottle lamb was a triplet who we observed getting further and further behind his hefty sibs, who pushed it out of the way to claim udder space.   A couple weeks ago, when it was blustery and cold,  I found him lying alone in the barnyard, no longer able to keep up with his mom.   He was so cold and hungry I wrapped him in an old sheet, put him in a box, and kept him by the radiator all afternoon.   When the girls came home, they draped him in doll blankets and made decorations for his bed. That, and the fact that he was drinking well and trying to stand, was my cue, to get him to the garage before we acquired yet another house pet.  All three bottle lambs are now in the barn, with our bottle calf, Fern.  Yes... the work just keeps increasing!

Fern was a twin who got separated from her mother and forgotten.   Roy suspected the cow was going to have twins and was watching for them, however, our mature cows are on some land we rent in Blacklog Valley.  The day he checked the cows she was tending to one calf and there were no other ones in sight.  He assumed he was wrong and came home.  The next day a neighbor called and told us there was a calf lying alone in a separate  paddock.   Roy went immediately and as luck would have it, was able to catch her.   He gave the cow a chance to reclaim her but it had been too long, so he put her in the back of our Subaru Outback and brought her home.