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.

No comments:

Post a Comment