Monday, 17 August 2009

First Ewe Assisted in Lambing

Earlier today I received an email from a close relative who lives in Perth which read in part: “Glad to hear lambs are being dropped, have you had to deliver any as yet? I would like $10 for everyone I have back in the mid sixties.” My response read in part: “(Touch-wood) I’ve not had to deliver any lambs to this point. It may happen in time, but I think that the ewes are in just the right physical condition for lambing, coupled with the fact that, as I mentioned, this is their 4th time - with any that have not raised a lamb previously having been culled. We’ll see.”

Jan and I have been checking the lambing ewes regularly and, you guessed it, I spoke too soon in sending the above reply.

We saw a ewe not far from the mob but out on her own with the head of a lamb visibly protruding from her behind. She lay down and immediately a couple of Australian Ravens were focusing on her rear. Whilst we were quite a distance away it became clear that something was ‘just not right’ with the lambing process so we edged our way around to the other side of the paddock to were she was, trying to minimise the disturbance to the rest of the mob, most of which that were close to her were ewes with lambs at foot.

We ended up assisting in the birth, the process of which is termed locally ‘pulling the lamb’.

The main points / observations were:

  • It was not difficult for us to catch the ewe. She seemed quite prepared for us to come up to her slowly and only made a dash for it at the end. It was a relief that we caught her quickly as we don’t have dogs and wanted to minimse the disturbance.
  • The other ewes with lambs moved away, but not that far really, and watched from a safe distance.
  • It was immediately apparent that the lamb was dead. Its head and right foot were protruding and the Australian Ravens had inflicted some damage around the mouth area.
  • We lay the ewe on her side. It was much harder to pull the lamb than we’d expected.
  • On removal, the lamb was enormous. I think this was a factor of genetics as well as swelling from the ordeal.
  • The smell of the lamb was, shall we say, not pleasant.
  • Immediately post the removal the ewe lay there for several minutes, recovering from some level of shock I suspect. After that she stood up and wandered away gradually.
  • Only a few days ago my mother told me that my father had found rubber washing-up gloves very useful for assisting ewes with birthing. We were pleased to have heeded this advice given what we experienced.
  • Jan and I have agreed that we will replicate if need be what we did today. That is, I will ‘pull’ the lambs, and Jan will clean and disinfect the gloves.
  • I took the lamb away from the area and disposed of it in the adjacent paddock.

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