Worried

Our new pup is a Maremma. She was born on a 2,000 acre ranch. And I don’t mean “the breeder who produced her owns a 2,000 acre ranch.” I mean, this pup was born and reared in an environment where she and the group of dogs into which she was born ranged over 2,000 acres. Naturally, the dams of the litters stick close to home when whelping and rearing young pups. The breeder described that at sixteen weeks, the pups still weren’t ranging far from the safety of the homestead. But, they were indeed ranging, and acclimating to the lifestyle of learning to protect a large span of territory from predators. She hails from Eastern WA, where wolf packs are now a force to be reckoned with, and most ranchers are needing to run large groups of LPDs to protect their livelihoods.

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The most common model used in the U.S. for managing lambing time is to “jug” each ewe into a 4×4’ pen in a barn right after she gives birth. Most people leave ewes jugged for several days. This definitely helps the ewe be sure to “learn” all of her lambs, and not get confused by any intruders into the birthing scent cone. It also gives the lambs ample chance to nurse on a ewe that’s not a moving target, to learn the smell and sound of their dam, and to gain practice at finding and using the ewe’s teats. If there is a problem during jugging, intervention is easy, since they are all easily caught in such a small space. The upside of this practice is reduced mis-mothering incidents (either caused by the dam’s or the lamb’s behavior), which can be a source of lamb losses.

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In the olden days, people navigated the earth using a combination of maps, agreed-upon street numbering and naming conventions, and indicator signage. When folks wanted to go somewhere, first, they would consult a map. Then, as they drove, they would follow the map readings to identify turns along the way, helped by signs which indicated the location of the turns.

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I have a crew of complications housed in the barn, where it’s easier for me to keep an eye on them. These resting ewes may look like they have whole litters of lambs, and in a way, they do.

 

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One of my highly productive ewes lambed on Thursday. She was big, her udder was big, she handily raised triplets last year. So I was certain she’d at least have twins. Nope. A nice, big, strapping single ewelamb. Gah. At the same time, a purchased ewe who is kinda skinny was also giving birth, right near the same spot. I was there to witness, so I knew who was who; but they were getting confused. Skinny Girl was glomming onto the Singler’s baby before her own emerged from the womb. Singler was sniffing around the scent pool of the other lady’s recently-broken water, licking her lips, and nickering from the scent trigger. I double-checked the Singler to confirm no more were coming. I pulled the first one out of Skinny Girl so she’d focus on her own business and ignore the other lamb that didn’t belong to her. She did. A second one delivered. I checked, and a third one was on the way. I saw an opportunity.

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