The Birth of a Lamb w/photos

purplequeenvt

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SheepGirl said:
Sheepshape said:
Very good picture series of pics....I'll try to get a 'back legs first' one when my lambing starts in about 10 days.....it will probably only go as far as a bit of legs showing as I always pull them out.
Why do you pull all of your lambs? Do your ewes always have trouble lambing? Are the lambs too big?
When a lamb is born rear legs first (breach) there is a significant chance that the umbilical cord could kink or break before the lamb's head is out of the birth canal causing the lamb to take a breath and inhale the amniotic fluids.
 

Sheepshape

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Purplequeenvt....spot on. I always lose some lambs which have tried to breathe as they have been born when I am not around, only to fill their lungs with amniotic fluid.

If the birth is clearly breech, then clean hands, dry hands (or gloves) and gentle firm traction with the next contraction, pull membrane off the face and offer immediately to mum and back off (feeling ridiculously proud of myself, although I really haven't done a lot!)

It is pretty common for a ewe who is having twins to have at least one breech, and it is such a shame to lose a potentially healthy lamb at this stage.

Equally so for any of the other odd birth presentations like one front leg forward and one back. It is very wise to become familiar with what the various parts of a lamb feel like with your eyes closed, and be prepared to push the lamb back to allow legs to be straightened etc. (An experiences shepherd nearby is a great boon!).

'If the legs joints both bend the same way =front legs, if they bend in opposite directions=hind legs', was probably the most useful bit of advice I was ever given.
 

The Grim Raker

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Just brilliant pics
esp the Nose and toes shot - when you see nose and toes then its sort of safe to crack open a beer
 

SheepGirl

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Sexing Newborn Lambs

Male (Ram) - In between the legs will be the scrotum. Right below the umbilical cord is the sheath.


Female (Ewe) - There is nothing on the underside of a ewe lamb.


How Can I Tell if My Lamb is Nursing?

Not Nursing - The lamb will have a sunken in belly and when you squeeze it, you can feel the sharp points on the side of the spine due to how much you're able to squeeze since there's nothing there (no milk in the belly). The lamb pictured had nursed the night before but the morning the picture was taken did not nurse at all.


Nursing - The lamb will have a full belly and when you squeeze it, you won't be able to squeeze very much. Their belly will be relatively firm. The lamb pictured had nursed throughout the night.
 

Southdown

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Excellent pictures and more helpful than most books. I have never had a breech lamb and therefore, never needed to pull it out. I have "Storey's Barn Guide to Sheep" ready, just in case I need to know how to address different birthing positions.
 

purplequeenvt

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A little update:

As a general rule, a reliable sign of impending labor is the color and puffiness of the vulva, but occasionally you will come across a ewe that does NOT get significantly puffy.

This ewe was in labor when this picture was taken and delivered twins shortly afterwards.
 

Nardalyn

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Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this series of pictures! I'm a newbie with sheep; I have two ewes and one ram, all Icelandics. We did our spring chores this week - vaccinating, worming, trimming feet - and when we tipped the ladies into their hammock (thank you Premier 1!!), both had nicely developing udders and prominent vulvas. That's what we hoped for, but with all their wool, I can't see a thing when they're walking around.

I've got Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep by my bedside, but these photos tell me what is normal and how the process goes. (And my husband too. He's being pulled into the role of 'farm boy'. ;)) the absolute earliest I should be expecting lambs is April 10... Yikes!
 

norseofcourse

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Thank you! Great set of pictures. And amazingly, I got to watch the birth of my first lamb today! In the beginning stages of labor, she also did some upper lip-curling, and yawning. And she kept trying to reach back and lick at her hind end, but she couldn't reach, so she licked where she could.

I saw the clear bubble, which broke quickly. I didn't really see a dark bubble, but after a bit I saw a foot, then two, then the nose. It took the longest for her to pass the head, it seemed huge and I kept silently telling her, 'you can do it!'. After that the rest of the body came out pretty quickly. She is a first time mom but she did a great job licking it off. I watched as it took its first steps, then tried to figure out where the udder was. Mom didn't help, she kept moving so she could lick his face again.

The 'boy/girl' pictures are good too! It's a boy, although the scrotum isn't nearly as big as SheepGirl's boy lamb's is. I will post pictures soon, but I need to take more tomorrow - by the time he was standing well, it was getting too dark for good pics.
 
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