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Author Topic: 6 month old lambs pregnant?  (Read 346 times)

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
6 month old lambs pregnant?
« on: March 03, 2021, 11:34:20 am »
To cut a long story short, a neighbour's ram lamb jumped into my field of ewes last November and wasn't spotted for a couple of days.  He's clearly got many of my ewes in lamb, including my retired oldies with no working udders and I suspect some of my ewe lambs, who would have been six months old at the time as I've seen some with suspiciously large bellies and swelling vulvas.


Will it be detrimental for them to lamb?  I've only ever bred from shearlings at the youngest age, and am worried they are too immature to cope.


1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2021, 12:35:24 pm »
What breed are your ewes and what breed was the ram?  Some breeds happily have lambs on their first birthday, others are best allowed to mature until they are lambing at 2 yo, generally smaller and primitive breeds.  We have had fence jumping and lambs lambing many years ago without problems, but we learnt from that that 'good fencing makes good neighbours'.  We prevented neighbours animals - sheep and cattle -  from jumping in by doubling all our fences and planting hedges in the space.  It has been a huge job, but we are now nicely protected from various problems.


If your sheep are commercials, I'm sure more knowledgeable shepherds will be along to tell you how best to manage those you think are in lamb.  It sounds as if you'll need to have Calciject, some bottles and colostrum and formula ready for the elderly lambers.
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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2021, 01:47:13 pm »
I ended up having to let my tup run with all my ewe lambs one year (major floods, safer for them all to be on the higher ground, but no separate paddocks up there) and he got 15 of 16 in lamb.  Tup was pure Shetland, ewe lambs were all Shetland crosses.  All would be lambing at around 13 months old.

Because I knew they were likely in lamb. I had looked after them appropriately.  As they were still growing, they need a bit of extra rations to make sure they have enough for themselves, the lambs, and to produce milk.

I gave them a little bit of cake daily from 8 weeks out, upped the ration slightly at 5 weeks out.  Mineral drench early in the pregnancy. mineral lick available throughout.  If it was a breed and farm that was prone to swayback, they'd have had copper needles half way through.  Good hay all winter. 

I let them lamb outdoors, in the riverside pastures where there was some light woodland cover and good grass, and captured anyone who didn't seem to know what to do or wasn't feeding her lamb.  It was harder to catch these young mothers if there was a problem, as they didn't all follow their lambs as reliably as an older ewe would do. 

None of them had any problem lambing (using a Shetland tup rarely gives any issues in this department) and the majority, being primitive types, naturally selected secluded spots to lamb and fed their lambs without assistance.

I missed noticing that one lamb wasn't full the second day and it died.  The mother had definitely fed it colostrum the first day, was mothering it well, and the lamb had seemed happy and bouncy and normal on the second day, but I found the lamb dead on the morning of the third day and its stomach was empty.  The ewe's bag wasn't turgid, so she had clearly not had enough milk for it after the first day.

One ewe lamb, a Manx x Shetland, was a very skittish mother and kept losing track of her lamb, but all the others kept their lambs with them or stashed them safely while the ewe grazed.


So my advice would be to feed as though in lamb (but not overfeed as you don't want large lambs that are difficult to push out), remembering that the girls are still growing themselves.  Make sure they have mineral drenches, licks and so on. 

Vaccinations three weeks out if the ewe lambs are already vaccinated, or if they haven't been vaccinated yet, start a month earlier so that they are getting their booster 3 weeks before lambing.

If you normally lamb outdoors then personally I would still do that, but think about how you would catch a ewe and lamb that need help, so maybe use a smaller paddock for them to lamb in, or have a pen set up and feed them in there so they are used to going into it. 

Keep watching for lambs being underfed, and feed the lambed ewes generously to help them make enough milk.  Be more alert for mothering issues, for ewes who stay out partying and don't return to their lambs frequently enough to feed.  It may take them a few days to get the hang of the job ;).  You might decide to put them in nursery paddocks for the first few days so you can keep a really good eye on them.  Of course bring any in that are not hacking it, as you would with any ewe.

What breed are the ewes, and what breed was the tup? 
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landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2021, 02:50:22 pm »
While it's true that ewe lambs still have some growing to do, anything above maintenance that they are given after the first 2 months of pregnancy will go straight into the lamb. Bear in mind also that ewe lambs are also more likely to have singles and that in itself can cause problems. You are better with a small lamb and easy birth than a large lamb to start with. Unless the tup is something small like a Shetland, I would feed the young ewes just hay/haylage and a high energy feed block. You can feed extra concentrates after the birth, to encourage milk yield.  The ewes will help themselves as and when from the feed block and will be perfectly capable of producing a healthy lamb without anything extra. But if you do feel you absolutely must give them some more then give something like some oats or barley which will add energy to their diet, without high protein which will give unwanted added size to the lambs. 
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  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2021, 03:15:49 pm »
Thanks for your replies.  In answer to your questions the lambs are mostly Texel crosses, with a mixture of all sorts in the cross - Lleyn/Suffolk/Charolais/Ryeland/Zwartbles, and of commercial type.  The ram that jumped in was a Welsh cross (have no idea what the cross was, possibly Texel?).


They have had ad lib access to high energy licks (Lifeline Lamb & Ewe) and have been given good quality haylage up to now (which they eat sometimes and sometimes not!).  I have a lot of grass coming through in one field which I intend to move them onto this week, so probably won't give them extra feed.


They are due to lamb at the end of April, by which time they will be a year/13 months old.  So I'll probably vaccinate them early April as they have already been vaccinated.  I have all the usual lambing emergency stuff, just have to keep fingers crossed nothing goes horribly wrong!


I think we will also be doing as Fleecewife says, adding extra fencing as this farmer has started putting tup lambs in as stores over winter, right next to the field I winter all my ewes on.  I already have good quality fencing but this ram was obviously determined as he cleared it.  I don't want to have to go through this again!  :-\
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2021, 05:31:08 pm »
But realistically - how many of your ewes will have been cycling on these two days? A tup lamb can only cover so many ewes (and it is less than an adult one) in a couple of days, so I would hazard a guess that not that many of your girls are actually in lamb, he may have covered quite a few, but they will not all have taken.




Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2021, 05:44:56 pm »
But realistically - how many of your ewes will have been cycling on these two days? A tup lamb can only cover so many ewes (and it is less than an adult one) in a couple of days, so I would hazard a guess that not that many of your girls are actually in lamb, he may have covered quite a few, but they will not all have taken.


I'm going by the ones who have large bellies and swelling vulvas - I can't imagine they would look like that if not in lamb
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: 6 month old lambs pregnant?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2021, 05:54:30 pm »
To look on the bright side they are lambing when the weather should be decent , the grass growing  and all should lamb in roughly 1 week  . Just keep doing what you are  a welsh x ram should give slightly smaller lively lambs

 

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