Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lamb update

Well last night at the 6pm feeding the ewe lamb was not the bright eyed and rambunctious lamb she had been before. By the 9pm feeding she would not nurse at all, and I had to tube feed her. At the 11pm she was distress calling and laying flat. I propped her up under the heat lamp and at the 1am barn check she was looking ok. By 4am, she was flat on her side and had barely audible distress calls. This morning she had passed. To be honest I did the best I could and just regret not being there for the birth. I didn't think she would make it, as with babes of any species of livestock she did not stand in the first 48 hours, which I think is crucial. I didn't think she'd have a super good chance, but try we did. Especially because she's a ewe lamb!

Considering I've only lambed TWO BFLs ewes to date, and I've had issues with both (and one prolapse ewe prior to lambing), it sure doesn't give me great confidence in their mothering or lambing abilities. I've heard longwools as a general rule don't tend to be great first time mothers, although 2nd time moms are great and it really does pay off in the long run. It reminds of Holsteins versus Angus (dairy vs beef) breeds.

I'm not trying to bash the BFL breed. I honestly and sincerely believe that the breed is totally worth the hassle. They are extremely docile, friendly, inquisitive, elegant sheep, much like the other longwool breeds. I must admit they are NOT Shetlands in terms of hardiness, and I have had one incident of birthing issues with the Shetlands, but I've also lambed close to 100 Shetland births at this point and can say they are much easier lambers and I although I still check the barn every few hours, they are usually born between the barn checks and up nursing already when I do find them.

I know after talking with other BFL breeders, they are not all this way and I'm sure the rest of my lambing will go smoothly, but I am a bit apprehensive. :) I'm not jumping ship, or selling out, but I just need to be more prepared for the BFL lambs and I'm glad they are lambing at a different time than the Shetlands so I can concentrate on them 100%.

BFLs are poised to enter the market/commerical lamb market as more and more people are becoming aware of the awesomeness that BFL rams can transmit to their mule lamb offspring. BFLs as purebred are not for the faint of heart, but with some determination and basic supplies, I think you can do it, heck, if I can, you can too.

5 comments:

Ginny McMurrough said...

Stay strong Garrett, I'm sorry the lil ewe lamb passed. I have to say it wasn't unexpected, but I hoped she'd make for the same reason you did, because she's a ewe. And because it's so hard losing the wee ones. My mom lost several kids this kidding season, and one doe passed on. It's rough, but you're a good herdsman, you'll pull through this. Good luck with the rest of them. Very good that you have the BFL's & Shetlands lambing at 2 different times, very good idea!

Cynthia said...

You did what you could Garrett. It sounded like a considerable birth or intrauterine growth trauma and there is never any guarantee that these can be saved.

I would agree that the longwools are more complex with lambing and yes, you are wise to warm newbees toward caution. I have never had a longwool that I haven't had to assist in some way (prolapse, birth, nursing, mastitis etc) and yet can count the Shetlands on one hand. It is almost unfair to compare the Shetlands and longwools as they are historically so completely different.

While the Shetlands are almost bullet-proof, the BFLs are beautiful and worth the considerable extra effort they often require. I do believe it is possible to watch your mothering lines and draw from the best for better than average results.

How's the mother doing with her ram lamb? Any better? You can try some Arnica (homeopathic) for pain if you want to stay away from drugs.

Becky Utecht said...

I hear you loud and clear Garrett! You do remember me warning you, right? I think they are worth the extra effort at lambing time too. Keeping my fingers crossed for a successful lambing season for both of us!
I like to lamb the BFLs first because the first year we had BFLs and Shetland lambs at the same time, the poor BFL ewes are unable to protect their bags from the nasty Shetland ram lambs. It was hard for them to allow their own lambs to nurse without some juvenile Shetlands going in for an easy snack. And yes the Shetland boys' mom had plenty of milk, but they were opportunists. So now I put my BFL breeding groups together first.

Claire said...

So sorry to hear about your little one. It does sound like there was some kind of internal problem either with her skeletal structure or her muscles. My tiny one is able to get up and walk around on her own, and seems to be doing it more with time. I had no idea they would get hypothermia so quickly, but I realize their wool is barely there, and my comparison is Icelandics - the ultimate cold weather lambs! I hope things improve from here for both of us!

I think Sloan's lambs were smaller than expected because of the stress of the move, then the change in feed, and also the fact that we had trouble finding quality hay this winter. I think their nutrition was a little shaky in the earlier part of the pregnancies, and the intense cold here hasn't helped matters either.

All my other ewes are due in April. I never had a February lamb before, and I never will again if I can help it.

Donna said...

Sorry to hear about your lambing experiences. I have only lambed Shetland sheep so do not have much in the way of complications. I will have Gotlands for the first time this year. I hope everything goes well from here forward.

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