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Author Topic: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too  (Read 1113 times)

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« on: March 30, 2020, 08:47:53 am »
I have a ewe that lambed yesterday early evening. Lambed outside, looked a smooth birth that didn’t last too long. Left them but on checking a little bit later witnessed her butting the lamb away a lot. It seemed whenever the lamb moved towards her, her head was held low and she was making gutteral noises, not mummy noises. She had cleaned it up which seemed to show some interest.

As it was getting dark I brought her in. Picked up lamb and she followed straight away all the way back to the shed.

When penned she was licking it but when it went to go near her rear she would make these low grunty noises, butt it away, and even appeared to try and bite it.

I haltied her up with plans to leave her overnight. When I checked them lamb was curled up in front of where she was stood, but again when it went for milk she wouldn’t stand still. I took the halter off as she was pulling it so tight across her nose and put the lamb in a separate pen in her eyesight but not right next to her as the lamb was sticking its head through the bars and I was afraid she would butt it and break its neck.

When they were apart she called for it, and it called back. But every time we’ve put it back with her she’s turned on it again. I’ve checked her bag. She has milk and it isn’t hot, swollen, or lumpy. We’ve popped her on her bum so lamb can have a drink and when it gets the chance it’s sucking okay.

Any suggestions? It’s like she wants her lamb, but she doesn’t want her lamb. It’s puzzling as I’m not sure what the cleaning and following and calling is all about if she’s rejecting it.

We were going to try and halter her and pen her tight whilst trying to rig it with some hurdles so the lamb could still get to the teat. Although as she kicks about when it goes near her I’m not sure it’ll work.

Sometimes I think they sense a lamb that has issues and this can cause them to reject it but this lamb appears to be okay.

My OH seems to think I have spoilt her (she was the first and almost only one to come to the bucket and feed out of my hand) and this is why she is acting like this. A bit like a spoilt ram. But another one in this flock that is tamer lambed and mothered okay, and all of our other flock are on the bucket and have had no issues.

I’m a bit upset as we have to downsize our Badger flock for various reasons and now although she’s one of the tamest she’ll have to be one that goes. As well as what to do with the lamb...
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crobertson

  • Joined Sep 2015
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2020, 08:59:46 am »
Is there anything wrong with her udder? Would explain why she wants her lamb but doesn't want it to go down there.

We're having a problematic year too, I also have one first time shearling with one lamb who is perfectly fine inside, lamb looked after, lamb well fed but everyday they go out she will spend the whole day walking off (little lamb keeps up) but never stops for it suckle, every time it tries she just carries on walking - poor little thing was trying its best yesterday. Soon as shes brought back inside at night lamb has a massive drink and mother stands still for it.

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2020, 09:10:12 am »
Common problem in sheep & cattle , since you have haltered her then leave her haltered with enough length to lay down and feed /drink  then just push her against a wall /pen /hurdle and put the lamb udder her 3-4 times per day ,if she kicks/jumps then put the flat of your hand on her spine in front of the hips and apply pressure ( in cattle you can buy a kick bar or put a rope round in front of the udder and over the spine and tighten ) as the lamb gets stronger then it will get easier . HEIFERS will sometimes butt their calf and send it flying through the air while following up and bellowing ( scary to see but they normally come to be good mothers )














9

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2020, 09:20:51 am »
, I also have one first time shearling with one lamb who is perfectly fine inside, lamb looked after, lamb well fed but everyday they go out she will spend the whole day walking off (little lamb keeps up) but never stops for it suckle, every time it tries she just carries on walking - poor little thing was trying its best yesterday. Soon as shes brought back inside at night lamb has a massive drink and mother stands still for it.
keep her in and increase her feed  until the lamb is stronger  or confine her to a small grass area if you left them out full time she would just keep walking & eating and let the lamb die . A ewes first instinct is for her to survive and breed again next year even if she sacrifices this years lamb  , this is often seen in hill breeds when they are lean and food is short

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2020, 09:23:48 am »
Either leave her haltered or make an adopter for her to go into- a piece of plywood, cut out a U shape and fix another plank of wood along the top of the U with a screw bolt at each end so you can slip the ewes head into it then fasten/screw the plank down. Then fix to a hurdle pen in one corner.


If she still doesn’t take the lamb after a few days in the adopter you’ll have to lift the lamb and rear on a bottle. Cull the ewe and don’t keep the lamb to breed from if it’s a ewe lamb.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2020, 11:15:58 am »
Its a PITA when they do that.. If she had twins and refected the one I would just take it away and rear myself, as its a single I think I'd percevere. I would keep the ewe in a pen and the lamb in a separate pen next to it. catch the ewe every 4 (or so) hours and let the lamb drink. Hopefully after a few feedings the suckling will make the ewe feel a bit more maternal? I'd be very careful not to leave them together for too long. The light head butts can get a lot more aggressive if the lamb doesn't heed them.

I had one ewe that I had to catch the whole time she was suckling as she wouldn't let her lamb feed on its own. I had a dog collar on her and she was luckily tame enough to come for ewe nuts. Following year she was fine!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2020, 12:56:35 pm »
if it's a first-time ewe, then persevere with the supported feeding.  Very good chance she will settle and become a good mum from hereon.

I have had them take a week, even 10 days once, but it's usually more like 2-4 days, often only a few feeds.

My feeling is that these new sensations can take some getting used to! 

If it's an experienced ewe then there may be something else going on, but I would still do the supported feeds and hopefully she will settle.  They say that after a week, the lamb smells of the ewe, and she will take it then.  But the issue here seems to be that she loves it, just doesn't want it to suckle. 

On techniques for restraining the ewe while the lamb feeds, I found that the lighter your touch and the less of a fight it is, the sooner the ewe will come around.  So my usual technique is to quietly pin the ewe against the wall of the pen, with her nose into a corner, using my legs at her shoulder and hip, with one hand gently but firmly supporting her chin and the other pressing on the spine as shep53 describes if necessary.  The lamb will get it and come diving under after a couple of feeds.  Relax the pressure as much as and as soon as you feel you are able so that the ewe feels less constrained as far as possible consistent with getting the lamb fed safely.

And there is nothing wrong with giving the ewe some cake to keep her occupied while the lamb is feeding ;)


Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

sabrina

  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2020, 11:28:42 am »
I had a ewe like this years ago. Lamb was a breech birth and quite small. She would show interest until the lamb tried to feed. In the end I put her out with the others with her lamb. I bottled fed him in the field every couple of hours. She kept him close but never fed him. He was a cheeky lad and would sneak a drink from any ewe who would let him. I never bred from her again.

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2020, 09:36:50 pm »
I had a ewe like this years ago. Lamb was a breech birth and quite small. She would show interest until the lamb tried to feed. In the end I put her out with the others with her lamb. I bottled fed him in the field every couple of hours. She kept him close but never fed him. He was a cheeky lad and would sneak a drink from any ewe who would let him. I never bred from her again.

This sounds like little molly lamb! He came out backwards, second twin. Wasn’t a peaceful birth and he was very underdeveloped. Mum took a dislike to him but would let him feed. Took him off in the end as she was depressed and the first twin was a monster! He goes out and hangs round with his brother and her, gets his bottle in the field, but is an opportunist and usually tries it on when we are checking the ewes over!

The ewe and lamb I posted about here are improving. Mum is much less feral now and feel comfortable leaving them alone together in the same pen. She still won’t let her voluntarily feed but can be held with an ever decreasing lack of effort. It’s nice to see progress. Not much in the way of communication between the two of them still. Would love to stick them out in the field, always think they feel better outside, but don’t think lamby would get much to eat at the moment!

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2020, 08:29:53 pm »
Mum has let lamb feed a couple of times later today without us being involved! Still a bit fidgety and not over keen but nice to see progress  :excited:

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Ewe knocking lamb away but calling for it too
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2020, 09:41:21 pm »
Ewe and lamb went back with the others on Friday and they don’t leave each other’s side (well, most of the time unless lamby goes for a wander whilst Mum is eating!) So pleased they came through the initial rejection stage and now seem to have a really strong bond. Only took five days/nights! I guess because of the penning they’ll probably be closer than any of the others that lambed outside. I will probably keep her now  ;D

 

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