FARMING MATTERS: Lambing in full flow with lots of singles

Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt
Picture copyright Heather Jan Brunt

Driving into the office yesterday I passed a field filled with ewes and lambs, and it was obvious the gorgeous little lambs were Jacob crosses due to their black, brown and white colouring. I used to have a pet ewe that was a Suffolk/Jacob cross and she was a beautiful chocolate brown colour.

These days our sheep are Texels, a good commercial breed that is relatively meaty. Our own lambing period began in the middle of March with the older ewes, and we are still going strong now with the ewe lambs (the younger ewes undergoing their first pregnancy).

It’s been a relatively straight forward year in terms of the work, with not too many complications. Most of the ewes have managed to give birth unassisted. There have been no breech births, but one or two have presented with one leg back and so required a bit of help. And there was one serious prolapse prior to lambing where we had to bring the vet in to perform a Caesarean on the ewe.

It hasn’t been a particularly productive year in terms of total numbers produced however. We always hope for twins, but this year we have had more singles that expected. This has been surprising as the ewes were well flushed in the autumn prior to ovulation and tupping (feeding them particularly well before mating with the ram).

A month before they were due to give birth, the ewes were brought into the lambing shed where they were introduced to hard feed, barley, hay and water and could be checked on a regular basis more easily. They were also given a vaccination to protect them and their lambs against several different bacterial diseases.

As the ewes have lambed they have joined the ‘mum and tots’ pen, unless there is a slight illness or a problem with mothering, in which case they go into individual pens for a short time. The ewes and lambs are also sprayed with a number to help with identification, and this can produce some hilarious results, especially with the lambs, as they wriggle so much!