spottedlamb

Thursday morning brought another set of twins, these are from #HHS116. She is a smallish ewe, but she had nice twins last year as a yearling. These were even nicer, at 10 lbs 3 oz and 9 lbs 3 oz. One was white with tan spots, and the other was almost all white, with a faded brown mark on her shoulders.

Our neighbor, Anna, had said to call her if a birth happened during the day when she could watch, so this one was timed perfectly. It was sunny, but windy and cold!

This ewe had a big udder, and I suspected she could take one of the tiny lambs that was not showing good growth. By Thursday, I had turned loose two of the three sets of “bad mommas” because their lambs had hit seven pounds and were showing consistent weight gain and strength. But I still had one lamb in a set of twins that was small and not gaining much at all. Sometimes I think those little ones use all their energy staying warm in chilly weather, and it’s hard for them to grow. Other times, the mother just isn’t producing enough milk. I made the snap decision to try to graft that little lamb onto this ewe.

It almost worked. I dunked the lamb in the stock tank to get her wet, and then we smeared birthing fluids all over her, and rubbed her up against the first newborn. Anna and I had a good laugh at this messy process- lambing isn’t as romantic as it might sound. Here is the grafted lamb, dragging afterbirth material, poor little thing.

grafting

The ewe sniffed her and seemed to accept her, though she still concentrated more on the “real” baby that needed a lot more cleaning-off. She allowed the grafted lamb to nurse, and that lamb was thrilled with the hugely available milk supply and really drank up!

whitelambThe ewe had her second lamb, and I just kept mixing in that third lamb, to mingle their scents. The challenge was that the grafted lamb knew this wasn’t her mother, and kept trying to leave! So, I penned them together, hoping the match would take.

But when I checked again in an hour or so, the ewe was onto the trickery. She wasn’t rejecting the lamb outright by butting it away, but whenever the lamb would try to nurse, she would politely and gently step away, and then nicker to and encourage her own lambs to nurse instead.

So, darn. I put the lamb back with her own mother, and that was fine, her mother took her back with no objection and let her nurse again. Fortunately, I think that lamb will be OK after all. Though she did get some scours from being able to nurse that rich colostrum! A few doses of Pepto Bismol should clear that up. She seems vigorous, so I’ll keep weighing her to make sure she is growing, and let it be.

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