Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lambing Questions and Answers

I've had lots of people ask questions about lambing season, so I'm doing Q and A today.

Do you keep the ewes in the barn until they lamb?
We allow the ewes to go out to pasture and graze until they give birth. I believe this leads to less birthing problems because the ewe retains her muscle tone. Once the ewe lambs, I bring the ewe and lamb inside the barn, dip the lambs' umbilical cords in iodine, and keep an eye on them to ensure the lambs are nursing and that the ewe is okay.

How long do the lambs stay in the barn?
Usually I let them rejoin the flock when they're about three days old. However, because of the cold temperatures, wind and mud, I've kept them in a little longer.

How many lambs does a ewe usually have?
In the Katahdin breed, twins are common. Sometimes a first-time mom will have a single. The lamb with its tail to the camera is a single born 11 days ago. The lamb in the background is a twin born six days ago. Triplets aren't that unusual. However, triplets can be worrisome if the ewe cannot produce enough milk to feed all three. The ewe pictured below actually had four lambs, but the last one died. We're hoping she'll be able to nurse all three.

At what time of day do the lambs give birth?
Most birth overnight, but I've had some birth in the morning and a few in the afternoon.

How long does the birthing process take?
Not long. It's very common for a ewe to deliver twins and have them cleaned up within 30 or 40 minutes. Ewes birth standing up, and very seldom do they need assistance.

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