We are now officially in the lambing lull, that break between when the AI lambs and lambs from the AI backup rams are due and the lambs sired by the secondary rams are due. It’s been a busy and somewhat difficult lambing so far.
Our AI experiment was a rousing success, of 44 ewes bred AI using the cervical procedure with frozen semen 22 of them produced lambs. We may have actually had a 23rd but either her lamb was stolen by another ewe or was stillborn and the guard dogs disposed of it. We may do parentage verification on the possible stolen lamb although it died later so perhaps not. It would just be for academic interest. If the lamb had lived we would to be sure we had the pedigree correct.
Which bring up the difficult part of this year. We have actually lost 4 lambs after birth. Most years we never lose any. 2 died from illness. The first we didn’t look at, the second we had samples tested at the lab. It turns out it was Clostridia Type A, a variety for which the nice safe vaccine used widely in the UK and elsewhere is not approved for use here in the US due to our stupid FDA rules on re-doing all the safety and efficacy trials before approval. 1 lamb had some sort of birth defect with a deformed face. She died less than 24 hours after birth. The last lamb we had to euthanize. He got injured somehow and was 3-legged lame. The injury was massive and we tried to treat it but then he got flystruck. Even with attempting to deal with that we could not get all the fly larvae out and they were going to make his life miserable before they killed him so we opted to end his suffering. It’s never easy but one of the jobs of the shepherd is to ensure that the life our charges lead is as pain free as we can possibly manage.
Overall the lambs are growing well and look good. We have had 75 live lambs born, 2 stillborn lambs and lost 4 leaving us right now with 71 beautiful lambs. We’ve had 2 sets of triplets. 1 set is Ginny’s and she is again doing a good job. She is a very small ewe and very skinny so we are feeding her grain and have removed her from our grassfed program. The other set is from a large ewe who could be a decent dairy sheep so she does not need any supplementation.