Early Friday morning there were more lambs on the ground, this time from #38, who is a two-year-old maiden ewe from Montana. She is a lunker, fatty of a ewe, and looked huge, so I was sure she had triplets. And she did.

First, the bad news, one was a stillborn ewe. It was stone-cold by the time I arrived, so I imagine it was born quite a bit earlier and did not make it up. The sack was off of it, so it would appear she tried to get it going. It’s hard to know what causes stillborn lambs, it could be lots of things. I saw a very wide patch of smashed grass, so it appeared as though she thrashed around a bit while giving birth. And, there was a very full amniotic sack sitting there like a water balloon. sack

One book I have advises to break the amniotic sack yourself the moment you see it protruding. The explanation is that when the umbilical cord breaks (which ideally happens late, but sometimes earlier than you’d like), the lamb will be triggered to take a breath. And if it is still inside the unbroken sack, it’ll suck in water and suffocate because it’s no longer receiving oxygen via the cord. Whereas, if it’s at the end of the birth canal, it has some hope of taking in some air as long as the birth waters are out of the way. So maybe that’s what happened to this lamb, if it happened to be inside a particularly break-proof sack? Who knows.

That’s the price I pay for sleep. Some shepherds get up every couple of hours during the night to check on ewes which are due. The idea being, you might be able to catch things like this, and possibly save the lamb with CPR, or whatever it takes! But, with 16 ewes due over a span of almost three weeks, bleah, I need my sleep! So, I only check right before bed, and then immediately when I get up. So I didn’t save this one! And even when you do check frequently, you still often miss the action. They are quick!


Well, anyway, here is a photo of the dead one. If I’m going to properly blog about lambing, I can’t just show you the cute live ones! Well, and with one admission, too: the lamb was born with all four feet, I promise. It’s missing a  hind foot in the photo because I left the lamb on the porch while I ate eggs that Kirk made me for breakfast (he said I figured you were down there long enough that there were problems, so I made you some eggs… Wasn’t that nice?), and Mr. Spanky chewed a foot off of it. <sigh> Well, death isn’t too sacred to animals… 😕

Later I cut the whole thing up in the kitchen sink and fed it to the dogs anyway. No use wasting 9 lbs of good lamb! And, it’s useful to check out if there was anything wrong with it. Everything looked good to me, except her lungs were red-spotted. I wonder if they were flawed, or whether that was damage due to oxygen deprivation?

So, on to the good news, two live lambs. A dilute brown ewe, and an almost-black ram lamb. He really looks black, but I can see brown shading in his coat. I had one born like this last year too, and she turned out brown in the end. It’s almost like they have the Suffolk-like gene of black legs and head with an alternate body color. But in this case, the body is so dark brown that it’s almost black too.