Jugs Well, I’m not completely writing them off as bad mamas, yet. But none of these three are winning a blue ribbon mama award, either. All three are yearling ewes of my breeding, all have the same sire and different/unrelated mothers, and all were bred to the same sire (their peer, #KMC900). They each have smallish twin lambs. And they all are managing to leave one or both of their lambs alone a little more than I’d prefer. :-{

This probably normally wouldn’t be a big deal. Lambs often fall asleep and nap while their mothers graze a short ways away, or run around and play while their mothers are napping. When the lambs get hungry, or are in any distress, they call to their mothers, the mothers answer and come running.

But these six babies are a little different. They are all visibly nursing, and I can feel milk in their bellies. They can run fast (they’re hard to catch) and are keeping warm enough (as evidenced by warm mouths). But they are all a bit thin, so they have me concerned. And they are all somewhat passive. They follow their mothers less than normal. And they don’t call to their mothers much, even when I do things to them that would normally make a lamb get mad and cry for help. Because they are small, they especially need to be eating frequently. Newborns that stick close to their mothers seem to eat every few minutes. But these guys don’t seem to be as motivated.

Their mothers are doing an ok job. They know these are their babies, and they encourage them to nurse when they are close and nuzzle them appropriately. They try to encourage the babies to follow them, but sometimes give up too easily and leave them behind. So, I keep finding the lambs sleeping all by themselves in the grass. And in the rare instances that the lambs do call, the mothers don’t always notice, answer or respond; and I think they should. So I’m not entirely pleased with that. But it could be that if they were blessed with more aggressive, mom-seeking and -following lambs, I wouldn’t have noticed this slight bit of lackadaisical mothering.

I decided to supplement all of these lambs with a bottle. To help them grow a little until (hopefully) their mothers’ milk supplies increase and/or the babies start seeking out nursing more aggressively. And I wanted them all to learn to accept the bottle, in case I have to take over for any of them. But I was getting tired of hunting them down in the grass. The brown ones are about the same size, shape and color as a molehill when they nap, and in the tall grass, they are hard to find! 🙂 Especially when sixteen other lambs are all scampering about and confusing me!

So, I’ve “jugged” all three sets. This way, their mothers will be conveniently close to their lambs encourage frequent feedings. And it’ll be easier for me to work with them and monitor them. I just want to watch them for a few more days, be sure they are growing, and are “out of the woods.”

I used dog “ex-pens,” which I have on hand. They are working great so far, easy to move and configure as I move the graze. And this way, the ewes can still feel like they are “with” the flock out in the pasture. These would not work with crazy ewes that would panic and crash into the pens, they could easily be knocked over. But  so far, knock on wood, my ol’ mellow sheep accepted the pens right away, and were content since their lambs were close and I fed them some nice hay.