Lambing Countdown - a Few Questions

shepherdO

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Well, I'm down to the last few weeks before lambs are due, and I'm trying to make sure everything is in order. I have 8 ewes, including 3 experienced mums (a little Katahdin who had quads last year, and other multiples before that, 2 big hair/wool crosses, both having had twins and triplets in the past) and 5 first timers. These include a suffolk-ish ewe who is due to lamb on her birthday, two commercial twins, and two huge rambouillet-suffolk crosses. All are due to lamb between Feb 23 and mid March, although most are at relatively even intervals of 2-3 days starting Feb 23rd. *** This is my first real year lambing, so they're all new to me ***

It's very cold here at the moment - temp's got down to -24 celsius the other week, and it's VERY windy around here, so I'd like to have the ewes in the lambing area for lambing - if nothing else, for my own peace of mind.

Anyhoo, I've transformed my old chicken coop (big, 10x14 I think) into a lambing shed, complete with heat lamp, several 'jugs' using pallets, and a side feed-room. I'm excited (and anxious!) about lambing and I have a couple questions I'd love answers for.

1) How much space do jugs required? In the lambing area I have a larger jug set up that's about 6x7 or something like that, and room for another one or two smaller ones. I've read that 4ft square is satisfactory - I have hay racks high enough that they don't interfere with the roominess of the jugs. However, I assume that 4x4 is NOT large enough for a sheep to actually labour/lamb in? My rambouillets are like hippos, so I think 6x7 is small enough for them as it is!

2) How far ahead of the due date would you enclose a ewe? I have several who I think are having triplets due to size and reproductive history. I've read that triplet-bearing ewes can lamb up to 10 days early - has anyone had this experience? My little Katahdin lambed quads yesterday right on her target date, so... My plan is to watch the first gal - triplets - due on the 23'd, and assuming she's on target, pen her up (with a friend next to her) a couple days in advance...?

3) For those who've had prolapses (my biggest fear...) when, in your experience, do they tend to occur? I can't get hold of a spoon around here at this point...

I think that's all, although of course I have a million other things whirling in my mind as the time approaches.

Thanks in advance,
ShepherdO
 

Mike CHS

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I don't have a measurement but they need enough space to be able to lay down with room enough to spare so they aren't laying on their lambs. Make them as wide as you can. Good luck on the remainder of your lambing.
 

Sheepshape

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Shepherd0....I hope you enjoy your lambing.The more questions, the merrier....and photographs of the lambs posted on site is the price for the answers.:thumbsup

Jug size.....mine are just under 6X6 (hurdle size) for medium sized sheep. Smaller jugs are fine for smaller sheep (as Mike CHS says)

When to 'jug'. I don't 'jug' them up until they are in labour as walking around can help with progression of the labour. Ewes often first go off thei food (not universal), then seem 'restless', then look for a quiet spot/corner etc, then start to paw the ground.... When they are pawing the ground regularly and circling, head down....they are well on their way.

Prolapses......vile things. Essentially an inherited condition, but aggravated by fat ewes on high bulk diet (silage, hay etc). Tends to occur in the week or two before birth in ewes which are expecting multiples. I use a ewe harnesses which I purchased on the internet. In emergency a contraption can be made with string, but it cuts into the ewe's flesh and is only to be used in emergency (Google or YouTube). If you have a ewe prolapse, the prolapse will disappear after birth, but don't keep the ewe or her offspring due to the genetic component.If a ewe prolapse this year, she'll do it again, earlier and more severe, next year. (But relax...prolapses aren't all that common.

Gestation for sheep is said to be 140-150 days with a median of 147 days.....multiples which give a bigger load to the uterus come earlier than singletons, as a rule.

The number of lambs a ewe produces has a genetic component, too. If a ewe produced triplets in one year, then she is more likely to have multiples in any other year. This brings to mind your Katahdin. At VERY best she can only feed 3 if she is young, fit and in excellent body condition. One or more will need to be artificially fed or 'grafted' to a ewe who has had a singleton/lost her own lamb after the lambs have taken colostrum from her. I personally only ever leave a ewe with two lambs (but most of my ewes are old/not so fit).

So....good luck....and, like many others on the site, happy to answer any questions to the best of our knowledge.
 

Baymule

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I'm still kinda new at this, only on my 4th lambing. What I have found is that they know what they are doing and I worried a lot for nothing. I have only witnessed 2 births, 1 was yesterday.

I wish you the best with your sheep, I am sure they will be fine. Be sure to post pictures!
 
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