Monday, May 8, 2017

Day 2

I was awoken by the cat coming in through my window and knocking the blinds down on my head. He was very happy that I was up so that he could move in and sleep on my bed. With that rude awakening, I got my coffee and headed to the barn. Helgi took the night shift and filled me in on the fun he had in the night while we slept. There was a ewe who lambed out 10 days early and had very small lambs. One of them did not make it, but the other is a tiny ball of energy and is vigorously bottle feeding every half hour. There were a few others with complicated lambings that we were to keep an eye on during the day. I was able to move a few ewes into lambing jugs before joined by Jess and Dana. It was time for the morning feeding, so while Jess and Dana fed the girls in the "Pregnant Ewe House", I went to feed the mommas and older lambs in the adjacent barn. The way the feeding system is set up is there are lanes in between the groups of sheep, some have additional lanes for grain. With the bigger groups, there is enough room to put an entire round bale and unroll it, and in the smaller groups, you lay down a strip of hay. Snædis is usually the one that distributes the grain however, some of the ewes think we also may have grain.
Kruna who is the mother of Becca Jr. looking for grain.

There are three barns, or sheep houses, that we look after. There is the barn that houses the pregnant ewes and lambing jugs (where we spend the majority of our time), a barn adjacent where ewes and their older lambs are housed, and a barn where the ewes that are not pregnant and the rams are housed. As the number of ewes and lambs grows larger, the rams and the ewes without lambs get kicked outside. Today, Helgi moved a group of rams outside because of that very reason. Once everyone was fed we went back to our routine of labor watch and checking in on the ewes and lambs in lambing jugs.
This is the older ewe pen, they are much more calm about their pregnancy and enjoy each others company. 

The pregnant ewe barn is divided up by age, the number of expected lambs and healthiness of the ewe. The yearlings and "hospital bay" section are watched very carefully. One of the ewes that we are watching carefully is one that had a vaginal prolapse last year. This year she is wearing a contraption that keeps the vagina in. 

 Once she is in active labor, it will be removed and our fingers are crossed in the hopes that not too much of the vagina prolapses. This ewe will most likely not be bred again. Today we had a steady flow of ewes lambing and we only had one stillborn *knock on wood*. We all got to experience what it is like to pull a lamb with large horn buds. When a ewe is in active labor, we check the birth canal to see if the lamb is in the correct position (front hooves forward, and head forward). When there are large horn buds, sometimes they get stuck behind the pelvis and mom pushes without any progress. Bring in the wire! We have a plastic loop (or wire) that is placed around the horn buds on the head so that we can help mom push the lamb out. If you are an expert like Snædis you are able to pull the loop with your foot while guiding the legs and keeping the mom lying down. We are not experts, but we all did well pulling our ram lambs out. Some of the ewes have become used to our presence and have come to tolerate back or cheek scratches. 

This ewe has been very tolerant of my scratches after spending most of the day with her (Do not tell Olive!)
However, there is still a group of ewes that are not so tolerant. While Dana was in a lambing jug helping a newborn lamb clear his airways, the lamb's mother headbutted her in the face and proceeded to grab her hair and pull. Dana fought back so that she could exit the jug and the mom gave birth to another lamb while continuing to fight. Dana got out alive and iced her eye... we will see tomorrow if a shiner develops. We lost count of the ewes that lambed out but we were all very proud of how we kept up the pace and monitored our ewes and lambings. Snædis and Helgi reminded us that this is the calm before the storm and in a few days, we should expect many more to be lambing at the same time and to get our rest now. On that note, it is past 11pm here and even though it is not completely dark out, it is bedtime! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for blogging! Good to see the EWE Maine experience paying off....