Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turkeys - Selling

Back again to the turkey farm, and today is collection day for the public.
I was with Carlotte and Polly (Louises daughter) and Polly's cousin.

We had a little gazebo and a table with a stuffed turkey on and a few leaflets by the containers, the public then had to come along with their reciept, give us their name, and then we go and collect their turkey from the containers. We'd but some rosemary and a leaflet with info about the turkey and how to cook it, in the box and then they'd go home. We were also selling lamb and goose.
It was freezing cold, and we sat in one of the containers watching the TV waiting for more customers but a had a turkey hat on to keep me warm ;)

There were quite a few people who just turned up without ordering, and some people come to buy lamb, or to order turkey/lamb for early next year. One of the geography teachers from school turned up to buy a turkey aswell :D

There was a Charrolais lamb born today! It seemed a bit strange to see a lamb in December, but it's all to do with the Charrolais having a different start of the year, and the lambs are born early if they are going to be shown so that they are a little bit bigger.
There were also 2 calves born this week - John bought 3 Angus cows to be eaten, he knew one was in calf, and another possible. One was sent to the abattoir, and the other 2 have calfed.

Because of being away, today is the first day where it really reels like Christmas - I think it could be to do with seeing 600 turkeys and having customers wishing you Merry Christmas all day, or it could be the hats we were wearing :P

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Turkeys - Dressing

I've been back at the turkey farm today, and they've been dressing the turkeys for a few days, but there's still quite a few more birds to do.
To start off with I helped to organise the turkeys in the fridges ready for the public.
After they are dressed, the turkeys are put into cardboard boxes, weighed and a weight written on the box, and then put into another refrigerated container.
We got the orders and found a turkey for each order, and arranged them alphabetically to make it easier to find when the public come and collect them in a few days time.
That took quite a while to do, and then I went and dressed some of the birds.
The head is cut off, and the neck drawn out, the oesophagus is kept for the giblets. You then have to make a cut by the vent of the bird, cut up a bit, and around the vent to be able to get in. You work around the cut, under the skin, separating the fat from the skin, all the way around. Then you grab the piece, and pull it out the hole.
The intestines and everything are all still attached. You place them next to the bird, and cut off the bits you need - the liver (but make sure not to cut the sack of bile) and the gizzard, the rest, you just pull and it comes away. You then feel inside and pull away the heart which is also kept.
Then you have to scape away the lungs from the inside. The rest is then thrown into a bag, which is sent off for incineration.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vet-Medlink 2008

I've been to Nottingham this week at the Vet-Medlink Conference.
I went up on the train with a few of my friends and it was a really good few days.
There were 3 of us doing the Vet-Medlink course - Me, Chris and Jen and a few more people from school were doing Medlink.

The three of us were in rooms next to each other in Newark Halls at Nottingham University and we were also put in the same lecture groups.
The rooms were alright - it had an ensuite in a cupboard in the corner, but I can't really imagine living in there for a year or two. 
I'd have to have it full of my own things and pictures all over the walls to make it feel like my own.
The campus itself was really nice, even though it's not where the Vet students are based.

It was all lecture based, covering all things vetty; from hamsters in a small animal vet, all the way up to elephants in zoos.
All of our lectures were held in the same lecture theatre and most lecturers used powerpoint presentations as well as showing us case studies and other pictures.

Lots of things were covered, from getting into Uni (in the UK or abroad), life as a vet student and what to expect working as a vet, then other things like behaviour, The Horse Whisperer and running a Holistic practice.
I thought that some of the lectures were just there to be sales pitches -particularly RSPCA and St. Georges University in Grenada obviously trying to convince us to spend money and study in the Carribean, but they were still interesting to hear what people think.

We had "The Edge" session, which went on until the early hours of the morning and was really interesting. The lecturer was really enthusiastic and inspirational, he told us about interviews, personal statements, work experience and how to stand out from the crowd. One example he used was for girls to wear something that stands out like one girl wore a red beret to her interview!

I met loads of new people aswell and also met up with some people I'd spoken to on the related forums before we went.
It was good to talk to people who all had something in common and was the first time I'd been with so many people who all wanted to be vets which gives you something to compare yourself against.
It was quite interesting because there was a huge mix of people, some who had a vets practice in the family and had been working there part time for 10 years, as well as running the farm and riding 6 horses, playing instruments and learning languages; others who had done 1 day in a cattery and then came on this course to see if they could become a vet.
It makes you think about things and some of the stories people come up with, whether they really are super humans or if its all a bit of an act.

The way it was done crammed lots of things into the day so you always had something to do and although we weren't doing anything physical everyone was really tired at night, so you could either eat on campus, or we just ordered pizza between the 3 of us and then went to bed at 11ish because we had to be up at 7am!

Last night there were a lot of people wondering around halls so we got talking to a group of girls from Wiltshire and sat talking to them for a few hours. We had a case histories test today and were given a list of diseases, one of the girls had a few old vet books with her, so we worked out what a few of the cases off the list were ready to be tested tomorrow.

I also bought a newly released book called 'Vet School' while I was there, written by two vet students called Christopher Shivelton Queen and Matthew James Swaffield who were speakers on the course.
We got a change to speak to them after their lecture and they both seemed like really nice people, really helpful answering questions and from the first couple of pages it seems a good read!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Turkeys - Killing and Plucking 2

Back to the turkey farm today.
I had a go at killing a few today and then plucking them.

You have to go into the shed, choose a bird and then carry it into the back of a converted livestock trailor which we used to dispatch all the birds in. The birds head is put into a cone, with its back facing you. It looks like a big upside down traffic cone, but with a wider hole for the neck to come out of, and it is made out of metal, they come in different sizes to cater for the different weights - from 9lbs to 53lbs! The birds head then comes out the bottom.
You hold on to the turkeys neck, and then get the electric stunner. You hold the stunner in your hand, and there are 2 prongs coming of the side, with pads on the end. The pads need to be touching the turkeys head, and then you press the button, which stuns the bird. You count to 15, while still holding the button and holding the pads to the birds head, and you can feel the neck and the head relax. You then take a knife, push it into the neck and cut towards the bone, which hits the artery and then the turkey bleeds into a bucket.
The worst thing for me was going into the shed and choosing who would be killed next. For me it wasn't the fear of actually killing something, it was me thinking that I could do something wrong and harm the turkey. I wastched a few be dispatched, and once I'd done the first one I was ok and knew that it hadn't gone throught too much pain and suffering.

Next the bird is carried into the container, plucked and then hung in the refrigerated containers for two weeks.

I feel better now that I know I'm able to dispatch of an animal and that I can cope with all the emotions and things like that.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Turkeys - Killing and Plucking

I went back to the turkey farm today, and its their 3rd day of killing the turkeys, they have 600 birds, so it takes a while to get them all done. They have been raised from day old chicks and now is the time when they are killed and plucked.
There was about 6 of us all in a container with a rail running along the top, with hook things on. The turkeys legs are put into either side of the hook, and hung up, and then you start to pluck them. The wings should be done first because if the bird starts to go cold they are hard to pull out because the fat that is holding in the feather turns into a solid. You just hold onto the wing and pull the flight feathers up, they are quite hard to pull out, and sometimes you have to use pliers to get them out. Then you start on the back of the wing with the smaller feathers, onto the breast and up to the legs. The feather 'pins' left behind from some feathers need to be pulled out aswell. Once that is done the bird is unhooked and taken to the big fridge containers and hung up on the racks I painted a few weeks ago.

The feathers are just thrown onto the floor of the container, and then bagged up and sent for incineration as they're classed as industrial waste!

The birds are hung there for a few weeks to let the muscles relax, which gives a better flavour and texture to the meat.

I didn't kill and today, but I think I'm going to tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I've been up to the turkey farm today, and I havent seen them since they were a few days old, and the change is (obviously) massive.
Turkeys in the barn (click to enlarge)
The different breeds have now been more obvious apart from the colour, because they are still different colours, and they are different sizes now.
The males have a bigger wattle under their chins, and they are generally bigger birds.
They are all free-range turkeys - they are let out in the morning and put themselves to bed and then locked up at night, so that they are safe from foxes.
John + the turkeys

Free ranging in the field

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More Practice

I've done a few days of work experience this week at a vets in Bourneville, about 35 minutes away from me. My mom has been dropping me off there, because she works in Birmingham so it's not too far for her.
It's been really good because I've known one of the vets there for years, so I've been able to ask him questions and things like that, and then he offered for me to go there and see practice with him in March, and now I'm back again.

I've seen a lot of operations and sat in on consultations with a few of the vets. There were a lot of castrations/spays, and lots of people coming in for booster vaccinations.There was only really 2 emergencies which came in, a puppy with parvo virus, and a spaniel with its leg cut open. The parvo case was interesting, as it was a new puppy to the owners, and they bought it in, it was kept in overnight and treated with a drip. It had runny/bloody diarrhea and the bloods sent off to the lab had low white blood levels. We were having to disinfect everthing as we went as it was so contageous, and wear gloves and the puppy was kept in isolation so the risk to other dogs was really low. Unfortunately it died and the owners contacted the breeders, who didn't accept responsibility.

I saw a few animals being put to sleep, which isn't nice, but has to be done. If they're in a lot of pain, sometimes its the kindest thing for the animal.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vetquest and another New Practice

I've booked on the "Vetquest" 1 day conference at Bristol University, in March 2009, and had a letter through the post today confirming my place :D I'm going with 2 other friends from school.
I also had a letter through the post today saying that planning permission for another vets around the corner from me has been approved! It's at a craft centre, and at the moment there is already an animal feed shop there. So there are now 2 brand new vets opening, within a few miles of each other in different directions.
I went up the the feed shop to ask what they think will be happening next, and they knew it had been proposed, but didn't know it had been approved! It could take a few years to build and get open, they said.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vet's Interview

I've just been for an interview at a Vets around the corner from me, and I start some time next Spring :D
I sat down with the owner (Phil) and he just asked about my Work Experience and what I've learned from it; Was I confident with horses? - they had 3 heavies, 2 horses and 3 ponies at the last farm I worked at; and then about some of the other things I do, like mentoring and charity work.

He had a flick through my Work Experience folder aswell, and asked about a few things I'd done on work experience which I explained.
They showed me around the practise and then the stables which are being built and then they said I can join the team.
It's a brand new practice, which is still being built at the moment, and they are due to open in April next year.
I think it will be a mixed practice, with a planned Artificial Insemination
unit for horses on the side.
They are building a stable block to house 3 horses, they have a few paddocks, and they're also having a "menage" area to exercise the horses and observe them in.
It should be good fun, and they seem like really nice people! So far they've found a vet nurse, and are still looking for a graduate vet, so we should all start around the same time next year, which will be really good as we can get to know each other as the practise gets going.
It will be really interesting to watch the practise be completed, and then be there when it opens, I can start to see it to become a functioning practice.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Practice

A planning application was approved around the corner from us a few months ago, and I walked round with my friend yesterday to have a look.
As we walked up, a man pulled up in his van and spoke to me and said if I was interested to go back today.
I've been back up with a letter this morning, and he's just phoned me and arranged for me to go back in 2 weeks for a chat-like-interview and to see about me getting some work experience with them.
The surgery has a stable block attached and is being built at the moment to be opened some time next year.
I've got the planning applications off the internet and it looks good, there will be 2 consult rooms, an x-ray room, as well as the others such as waiting room and reception.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Turkey Poults!

Me + Mom have just been up to the Turkey farm to see the turkeys!
Young turkeys are called "Poults". These ones were hatched in big incubators in Wednesday, and delivered to the farm on Thursday and there are just over 650.
Already they've had quite a few die, because of "vent pecking" - chicks have a natural instinct and they peck at things which are red (which is why chick feeders and drinkers are red), the vents are red and when they peck at them they get even worse and can pick up infection which can be fatal. At the moment the poults are being kept in brooders, they are big round pens with gas fired heaters in them to keep them warm so that they use their energy to grow and grow feathers. They are round because in square brooders the chicks all try to get to the corners and all pile up, which suffocates and squashes the chicks on the bottom.
There are 4 different breeds (Super Mini, Roly Poly, Wrolstad, Plumpie) of turkeys which will all grow to different sizes so that there will be different weights later on in the year. There are also males and females of the breeds which will result in even more weights - with males being generally bigger and heavier.

They are eating high protein Turkey Crumb at the moment.
It seems strange to think that they will all be eaten at Christmas, and that I will be involved in killing and preparing them. John asked wether I think I'd be able to do it at this stage, but I'm looking forward to learning how it's all done.

In a few weeks time they will be switched onto Growers pellets, and start to be let out into the field next to the shed, and brought back in during the night to protect them from foxes and rats.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lambing - Day 15

I got to the farm for 8 today. There are only 25 of Johns Welsh Mules, and 0 of Louises Mules left to lamb!
Violet has had twins :D
I did the usual and fed and watered the ewes in the big and little pens then started on rubber ringing and preparing lambs and ewes ready to go outside.
When I was done I helped John to load up the sheep into the trailer to take them out into the field.
I took down the spare pens from the new shed and stacked up all the hurdles together onto a pallet.
There were enough spare pens, so I moved the newborn lambs into the remaining small pens and Iodine and Spectam'ed them.
After that I went over to the old shed and took down all the empty pens in there. All of the ewes were in the big pens as I took down the hurdles.
After lunch, John and I injected some thick antibiotics into a lamb with an inturned eye lid. The eyelid needs to be facing the right way as the eyelashes rub against the surface of the eye and can damage it. I held the lambs head really tightly and John injected it. The antibiotics puff the eyelid back out of the eye.
All of the water buckets needed to be washed out to make sure there wasn't enzootic bacteria in there, so I did that.
After hays and waters we fed the sheep and I went home at 4.
It will be strange not going back to the farm, but its been a really good few weeks and I've enjoyed it all. I think I've learned how to properly deal with sheep and lambs (and to some extent newborn animals). Its also shown that animals will and do die no matter what you try and do for them which is just a fact of life. I used to think sheep were boring and that goats were better, but they're not anymore. I love sheep (bah) :D
Hopefully I'll be coming back to the farm to help with shearing in the summer if I am around or if not next year to help with lambing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lambing - Day 14

I got to the farm this morning at 8. Its good to be back after a week off.

It was a normal day - first feeding and bedding down then spending a lot of time rubber ringing and trimming feet.

We took quite a few ewes and lambs out into the fields today.

The cade lambs are all fine - they've grown loads in a week, but I can still tell them apart.

I'm sure Greg and Bluebelle still recognise me!
Mom with Greg + Bluebelle

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Lambing - Day 13

I arrived just after 8 this morning at the farm, and most of Louise's sheep have lambed, and a lot of Johns sheep have also. I went around and changed every ones waters to make sure they were all clean and fresh. After that we fed the sheep.
I topped up all the hay racks and then bedded everyone down with straw.
Next I rubber ringed, Scabivax'ed and numbered lambs and also trimmed ewes feet and wormed them which took quite a long time.
After that I moved onto the next job - jet washing! The livestock trailer which the sheep came from the field to the farm needed jet washing so I did it. It is a huge trailer with two floors. I took out the ramps and doors and washed them down first, and then got inside. I did the upstairs first which was ok as I could just about stand up in there. I had to do the roof, floor and all the walls to make sure there was no mud or any nasties left in there from the sheep. That was ok, but the downstairs was next. There was literally no room so I was half sitting down on my feet at first, but it was ridiculous so I went to kneeling along then crawling on all fours in muddy sheep poo'y water! The whole thing was tilted a bit so the water would run out of the door, but I had a broom and scraped all the mud down, then jet washed it, but that got mud everywhere so it took forever to do and end up with a clean trailer!!
I came out soaking wet and covered in mud and who knows what else, but it was alright :D

I then had to go around and top up hays and waters and ended up leaving just after 4 o'clock.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lambing - Day 12

Back at the farm after a few days off revising, and all 200 of Johns Welsh Mules are in the new shed. The prolapse ewe we brough back died a few days ago because of an infection.
After the normal routine of waters, hays and strawing down the pens, I helped Polly (Louise's daughter) to bottle feed the cade lambs in the old shed. Greg and Bluebelle are doing fine - they are the most tame lambs, and I think they might recognise me!
I went around with Charlotte and prepared the lambs + ewes in the small pens which needed doing.
After I'd finished we went out into the field and walked in Louises Mules and rare breed Charollais sheep down into the spare big pens in the old shed, it took quite a while to make sure none of them ran off, but it was alright. They are due to lamb on the 11th April.
Me + John put up the 4x4 pens in the new shed, ready for when the Welsh Mules lamb. Then I put straw into the pens as bedding.
John, Charlotte + Me went into the woods around the back of the shed to try and push out a ewe with her twin lambs which had got through the fence into the woods, but couldn't get back out. We managed it in the end.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lambing - Day 11

I got to the farm at 8 with Greg + Bluebelle - I put them back into the cade pen with the others who seem to have grown since Friday! I then fed the sheep.
Lois, Charlotte, Louise and me filled up the water buckets and hayracks, then strawed down all of the pens.
We all started on rubber ringing, Scabivax'ing and numbering the lambs, and worming and trimming the ewes feet. It didn't take long because there were 4 of us, so we got through them quite quickly, taking it in turns to do lambs then ewes.
After that we cordened off a field for the smaller lambs and ewes out of the bigger pen to go into just for the day - we walked them back in later this afternoon.
John came down to the farm and then all 5 of us got into the car to go and see 200 of John's ewes (about half an hour away by Kings Bromley). These are the ewes that will be brought into the new shed for lambing in a few days. They are Welsh Mules.
We fed all of the sheep and there was one ewe with a prolapse which John couldn't catch on his own yesterday, so we had to spot her and then catch her. When we'd got her John helped to put everything back inside the ewe, and then inserted a prolapse spoon to hold it all in and stop it all falling out, he then tied it onto her. It looked like she had already started lambing, so we put her into the back of the truck and drove back to the farm.
When we got back we topped up the hay racks and hay racks, then fed the sheep.
No more ewes had or were lambing so I went home at 4.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lambing - Greg + Bluebelle

Greg + Bluebelle are doing fine!
Once people hear we've got lambs at home they want to come and see them, so people have been popping in all the time to have a cuddle.
Greg is my lamb, and Bluebelle has become Nathan my brother's lamb. Greg is the white one with Red number 91 and Bluebelle has black spots - Blue number 83.
They're drinking better than they were before so hopefully they'll be alright :D

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lambing - Day 10

I got dropped off at the farm at 8am this morning.
All of the sheep are now in the old shed, while the new shed is being cleaned and disinfected ready for Johns sheep to come in and lamb.
We filled up all the hayracks and changed waters in all the little pens, and then bedded down all of the pens in the old shed.
We moved all of the bigger lambs and their ewes into a spare big pen which can all go outside at the same time when the weather gets better, we now have room for newborns to go straight into smaller pens.
I went up to feed the triplets in the paddock and up in the top field.
Lois + I went around all the smaller pens and rubber ringed and prepared the lambs and ewes so that they are ready to go outside.
We bottle fed all of the cade lambs and made sure they had enough milk, and then topped up the molasses feeders in the big pens - its so heavy and the ewes try to drink it out of the bottle before it gets into the feeder which makes it even harder to do!
There was a single lamb ewe which had been struggling for quite a while, so I helped her to deliver the lamb because it was stuck. I pulled one leg at a time to make sure it was presenting properly and it also makes the shoulders narrower. I got the head facing the right way - head first out of the ewe - and then pulled the legs at the same time and out it came. I cleared its mouth and scrubbed it with straw to make sure it was breathing and then the ewe started licking it. I penned it up and Iodine and Spectamed it.
Me + Lois then went out into the paddock next to the new shed to have a look at a lamb which wasn't putting weight on one of its legs. It took quite a while to catch and then we gave it 2ml of Engemycin intravenously.
After that we went back into the shed and bottle fed the cade lambs.
We topped up all the hays and waters and penned up some more newborns. We're running low on small pens because the lambs can't go outside because the weather is so bad.
At the end of the day I took home 2 of the weaker cade lambs to bottle feed during the night to. They are called Greg and Bluebelle :D
They are bottle fed with a powdered milk called Lamlac, made up with hot water (4oz Lamlac to 1 pint water), and fed every few hours. They'll go back to the farm with me on Sunday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lambing - Day 9

I got to the farm just before 8 today.
We did the usual routine - bed down all pens with straw, change hays and water and feed all the sheep. I got all the nerborn lambs out of the big pens, and out them into smaller pens with their mothers and then dipped their navels in Iodine and gave them 1 pump of Spectam.
After that I got on with the rubber ringing the lambs, Scabivax'ing them, trimming the ewes feet and then spraying on ID numbers.

Louises rare breed Charolais lambs needed weighing today, it is something to do with the breed standards and seeing how much weight they've been putting on. So we drove up to the field and set up the race so that there was a pen, a raceway with a gate on the side (so we could let the ewes out and only weigh the lambs) and the scales were at the very end.
We chased them down to the corner and rounded them all up into the pen and started weighing them and recording their ear tag number and weight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lambing - Day 7

Back Lambing today at 8 and when I got there we did as usual and fed and watered all of the pens. We also bedded them all down with stray and gave everyone fresh hay.
Next we put the newborn lambs and ewes into the newly bedded down pens, and gave the lambs a squirt of Spectam in their mouths and Iodine on their umbilical cords.
Me + Lois castrated the males and docked the tails of the lambs due to go out into the field and trimmed the ewes feet. We took it in turns, so I would do the lambs, while Lois did the ewes, and then swapped so I would do the ewes and Lois would do the lambs.
Then we loaded the ewes and their lambs into the trailer, and sent them outside into the fields.

We then fed the sheep and changed all the waters and left at 4.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lambing - Day 6

Today is Easter Sunday, and I'm Lambing :D
I got there at 8, and Lois was already there with Louise.
We changed all the waters, and replaced all the hays and then strawed down all of the pens.
Me + Lois fed the big pens, and Louise fed all the small pens.
We took out the newborn Lambs from the big pens, and put them into smaller pens with their mothers.
We walked out 8 ewes and all of their lambs into one of the fields, and carried out 2 sets of triplets and the 2 ewes into the paddock next to the sheds. Most of the twins and triplets which were in the paddock were all cuddled up under one of the big trees, and the ewes were all spread out, so we spent a long time chasing the ewes and lambs around, getting the right lambs and ewes with corresponding numbers back together. The lambs all had a good feed and stayed with their
Lois + Me prepared the lambs (castrating, docking tails and Scabivax and ewes to go outside, and we also sprayed I.D. numbers on them.
While we were doing that, Louise was out on the quad bike checking all of the fields making sure no lambs were lost.
When Louise got back we loaded up the lambs and ewes and sent those out into the fields.

There was a ewe which has been having trouble lambing all day, so we stepped in and I helped the ewe to deliver it.
We fed, watered and gave hay to all of the sheep.
Mom and Brother came to pick me up to go home and Louise saw something which looked like a newborn lamb in the top field.
Me + Nathan my brother got in the trailer, while Lois got on the quad bike and drove up to the top of the field. When we got there there was a ewe lying down with a newborn lamb, and there was a dead lamb with her aswell. We put both lambs into the trailer and eventually got the ewe in aswell. Lois + Nathan got into the trailer with the sheep and lamb, and I drove us back down to the shed.
We put the ewe into a pen, and gave the lamb some spectam and dipped its umbilical cord in iodine. We put the lamb into the pen under a heat lamb, and left at 3.30.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lambing - Day 5

I did another day of Lambing today which started at 8, which is a bit later than we've been starting before.
It was pretty much the same routine, feed and water both sheds, give all the sheep hay and bed down all the pens, and then we checked on all the lambs which were born during the night.
I Lambed a big single lamb today, which the ewe had been trying to deliver for hours, so we stepped in and helped her.
After that we prepared the ewes and lambs which were ready to go out into the field, and sent them out.
We left at 4pm.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lambing - Day 4

Back at the farm today for day 4 of Lambing. I'm really enjoying it so far.
Nothing too different happened today. Me + Lois fed and watered the sheep in both sheds and in all the small pens.
We then sorted out the lambs which were born during the night, and penned up the ewes with them.
After that we prepared the lambs and their mothers to go out into the field together. So after we'd prepared them we set up some hurdles to that the ewes couldn't escape and loaded them 3 at a time into the trailor and they went outside.

I saw a ewe lambing, and managed to get a few pictures:
After we'd fed and watered the 2 sheds, I left at 4.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lambing - Day 3

Today is the first day of the Easter Holidays :D
I got to the farm for 7am and did the hays and waters in the new shed.
I strawed down both sheds.
At 8, Lois who I used to work at Ash End Farm turned up! She is here on a 2 week University Placement (she is a 1st year vet student).

We all fed the sheep and got the newborn lambs from the big pens into the little pens and Iodine and Spectamed them.
We freed up a few more little pens by turning out some of the older lambs into the field. We've put a set of triplets out into the paddock next to the shed so we can keep an eye on them.

We rubber ringed some of the lambs tails and castrated them, and trimmed the ewes hooves. Then we sprayed I.D. numbers onto the ewes and lambs.
I helped to deliver my first lamb! :D
I put on a huge shoulder length glove and then using my fingers, felt my way inside and felt that the 2 front legs were facing forward with the head. I got hold of the legs and made sure they bonded to one single lamb, because otherwise if it was 2 lambs you would pull them apart and rip their legs. It was only one lamb so I waited for the ewe to contract, and then working with her, pulled the lamb out.
You have to pull it out and then straight away clear the membrane off the lambs face and inside the mouth and next pinch the nose to make it sneeze. If it doesn't sneeze poke some clean straw into the nose to clear it so it is breathing. You get some straw and rub the lamb to get it breathing and then put the lamb in front of the ewe so that she licks it clean and bonds with it.
We changed the hay and waters and went home at 4.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lambing - Day 2

I got to the farm for 7am.
I got out all the lambs and ewes which were born during the night, and put them into the smaller pens. I dipped the lambs navels in Iodine so they they do not get infected, and I squirted 1 pump of 'Spectam' into their mouth, which prevents them getting 'Watery Mouth Disease'.
I then strawed down all the 4 X4 pens and gave them fresh hay in their hay racks, and strawed down the big pens.

Because the weather last night was really stormy, one of the older ewes died in the lambing shed and 8 lambs were found dead in the field which were just a few days old.
Louise went up on the quad bike and checked all the lambs in the fields, and brought back the ill lambs with their ewes and put them in the small pens in the shed under heat lamps.
We fed all the big pens, and gave the small pens 1 level scoop of sheep nuts.

Then I went up on the quad bike to feed some sheep in the next field up - and I slipped on the mud when I was getting off the bike :P !!

There is another girl there today on Work Experience called Charlotte, who has applied for Vet School this year. Louise, John, Charlotte and I went up to the far field on the quad bike (John drove, we were in the trailer) and we bought back more ill lambs and ewes. We loaded up 1 ewe and lambs into the trailer, and walked down 8 ewes and their lambs into the shed. They all went into one of the big pens we made free.

John, Charlotte + me went over to the new shed to vaccinate the 90 ewes we had left from yesterday. ME and Charlotte made up the 10ml syringes of Engemycin, while John turned and injected the ewes.
The problem that they have can be vaccinated against, but as they weren't aware they had the problem until recently, they were too late as they should be vaccinated before 'tupping'. (Tupping is another name for mating, which is done in August for the lambs to be born in March.)

After vaccinating the ewes, Louise showed me and Charlotte hot to stomach tube lambs which are not taking milk from the ewe, or that refuse a bottle. You can tell by looking at the lamb if it is not drinking as its stomach is small, once full it is big and round.
After milking a ewe, you have to put a catheter tube attached to a syringe with the plunger removed into the lambs mouth and push it slowly down the lambs throat. When it is down the throat, you have to listen to the end of the syringe, and if you can head breathing you are in the lungs, not the stomach, so you have to pull it out and try again. The syringe is filled with milk and it slowly trickles down into the lambs stomach. Another few lambs were born today, so I took the lambs out by picking them up with their front legs and making sure the ewe follows. The lambs are held by their front legs so that the ewe can see and small the lamb and will follow, and it also allows you to carry twins in one hand and open gates etc with the other hand. If the ewe does not follow you have to imitate the sound of the lamb and the ewe usually follows. I then dipped the lambs navels in Iodine and gave them Spectam.
After filling up the hay racks and changing the waters, I left the farm at about 4pm.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lambing :D - Day 1

Today was my first day Lambing at the farm in Hints at it was really good. I got there at 6am and it was still dark. The farmers are called Louise and John and are really nice. The sheep are all in 2 big sheds - an old one and a brand new one. The older shed is separated 7 into different pens with 30 ewes in which are due to lamb either one lamb, twins or triplets. Then there are some smaller 4 X 4 pens which the newborn lambs and ewes go into so that the lambs and mothers do not get mixed up and lost. The new shed has 5 big pens and then the smaller pens.
The ewes are all scanned with an ultrasound machine and are marked with a coloured dot on their back which tells us how many lambs they are due with. Green means 1 lamb, no dot means twins, and a red dot means they are due to have triplets. This helps because we can see that once they have delivered one lamb we know if they are due to have another or not.
My first job was to go round all the pens and check for lambs born during the night.
We then put 2 bales of straw into each big pen and bedded them down. Then came one of the funniest jobs - feeding! Each pen has one big bucket of sheep nuts which is taken from a bigger barrow. As soon as the sheep hear the noise they go crazy and really loud. Then you have to try and get into the pen with 30 sheep all trying to get into your bucket, and spread the food out in a horseshoe shape so that they can all get to some food. I got stuck in the middle of the sheep and had to struggle to get out and spread out the food !! :D

It is quite clever because as a ewe only has 2 teats, they are fine with single and twins, but they cannot cope with triplets, so the 3rd triplet is fostered on to the single ewe. The triplet is taken to the single lamb ewe as soon as the single lamb born, and covered in all the lambing fluids so that the ewe thinks it is her lamb and licks it clean, and bonds with it. She is then put into 'stocks' so that the triplet can suckle, and it will start to smell of the ewe.
If the ewe rejects the lamb, or the natural mother rejects a ewe the lamb has to be bottle fed - it is called a 'cade' lamb and is bottle fed with a replacement milk - Lamlac.
Once the lambs are a few days old and have a dry umbilical cord and are generally strong enough, they are ready to go out into one of the fields. Before this can happen they need to be 'prepared'.
The lambs tails are docked so that their bums do not get dirty and clogged, and males are castrated. This is both done using a small rubber castration rubber ring which is put on using special applicators. The tail is left just over an inch long (by law they have to be under a certain length so they don't become dirty + matted, but not too short). Eventually both testicles and tails will lose circulation and will drop off after a few weeks.
They lambs also need to be vaccinated against "Orf" - a swelling of the mouth which comes out on their lips - which is done using a special applicator which gives a measured dose, you click it down and then scratch the inside of the lambs leg with the "Scabivax" to make sure the dose is absorbed by the body.
The ewes also need to be wormed by inserting a tube into her mouth and pumping the gun so that the wormer goes into her throat. You also need to turn her by having her on your left hand side, hold her chin with your right hand and push her head to the left and up against her body. With your left hand push down on her bum so she sits down and sits in between your legs. Then her hooves need to be trimmed and cut flat so it as a greyish white colour. If you cut too much the hoof will bleed. The lamb and ewe need to be sprayed with matching I.D. numbers on their side, a different colour is used for single lambs, twins and triplets.

Then we loaded the sheep and lambs into a small trailer attached to a quad bike, 3 ewes and her lambs at a time and they were drove up to the field.

There is an abortion problem at the moment which is caused by an infection they can catch. They become affected and 1 year later they abort their lambs. They have caught it from a few ewes which were bought in last year.

The ewes have to be injected with 10ml of 'Engemycin' which is a really thick yellow liquid. It is injected 'Intramuscularly' into the muscle of the leg. I prepared the syringed with 10ml, while John turned, injected and marked each ewe with a green dot on her head. Today we injected 9 out of the 12 pens.

We fed and watered the sheep in both sheds, and then went up to one of the other fields where the pedigree 'Charolais' sheep are kept. We fed those and filled up the milk bucket for the lambs.
I went home at about 4pm.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

One step closer - Lambing

After a few phone calls over the last few days I've finally found a Lambing placement! :D
The farm is in Hints - about 15 minutes away from here, and I've just been up to the farm to introduce myself.
They have around 600 sheep, which are all going to be brought inside the sheds in a few weeks, so we will be Lambing indoors.
I'm really excited and I'm starting on the 15th March at 6 o'clock in the morning! but it will be worth it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lambing ?

I've been trying to find a placement Lambing for the last few weeks, and haven't really got very far. I had a look on the internet and phoned all the places I could find, most can't take me or have already started/finished Lambing.

The only experience I have with sheep and lambing at the moment is at Ash End - I saw one sheep lamb which didn't need any help. They also take in 6 cade lambs (abandoned my their mothers) every year, so I've bottle fed those from a few days old with the help of visitors to the farm.

I asked the careers people at school who at first thought burst out laughing I was joking, and then suggested "to try a placed called Ash End Farm who had 100's of sheep" - I told them I worked there last year and they don't do Lambing as such as they only have a few sheep which are put to the Ram separately for a week at a time, so only have 1 lamb born every few weeks.

Then I tried one place called 'Lamb Farm', and when I asked about a possible lamb placement the man on the other end of the phone just laughed at me and said they didn't have any sheep!? :S
So then I found an organisation called the National Sheep Association, who I emailed and they sent me a list of all the farms who need help Lambing. After sending out about 20 emails to farms I have finally found a place in Kings Bromley (about 40 minutes away) who I can go and help, or they are asking their relatives who have a farm in Hints (15 minutes away) if they need any help.
Hopefully I'll hear something soon!