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Author Topic: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins  (Read 1051 times)

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« on: March 19, 2021, 12:50:11 pm »
Hi folks,

We have a ewe who has rejected one of her twin lambs for two years in a row. She would have been burgers by now if it wasn't for Covid, but here we are.

Assuming it's twins again, is there anything I can do either as she lambs or afterwards to increase the chances of her taking both of them?

Thanks!
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2021, 01:07:59 pm »
Have you got an adopter to put her in? Maybe put her straight in once the lambs are both dry, get both lambs sucking off her straight away ? And kebab once the lamb(s) are weaned  :roflanim:


Or just take 1 off once itís had colostrum and leave her to rear a single, if youíve got another ewe to adopt the lamb onto. That might be the easier plan.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2021, 01:14:02 pm »
Remembering that sheep aren't daft, it could be that she just knows she is not up to rearing two lambs, so in order to be successful with one, she sacrifices the other.  Or it could be that she senses there is something wrong with the rejected twin and it is a no-go from the start.  I have seen both these situations, and the ewe is normally right  :o .  Be prepared to twin any rejected lamb onto another ewe, or to bottle feed it.  Watch carefully and react early if it does happen again this year.  My approach to animals is that they probably do know what they are on about, so by culling her you are destroying a possibly valuable trait in your animals. Is it so important that every ewe has twins, or is it more important that every lamb born is raised to good health by its mother?
The alternative is to force her to accept the lamb by tying her in one of those horrible adoption contraptions and forcing her to keep it.  I know which one I would choose, you have to decide which is right for you and your livestock raising ethos.


Cross posted with twizzel  :)
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2021, 01:53:37 pm »
Remembering that sheep aren't daft, it could be that she just knows she is not up to rearing two lambs, so in order to be successful with one, she sacrifices the other.  Or it could be that she senses there is something wrong with the rejected twin and it is a no-go from the start.  I have seen both these situations, and the ewe is normally right  :o .  Be prepared to twin any rejected lamb onto another ewe, or to bottle feed it.  Watch carefully and react early if it does happen again this year.  My approach to animals is that they probably do know what they are on about, so by culling her you are destroying a possibly valuable trait in your animals. Is it so important that every ewe has twins, or is it more important that every lamb born is raised to good health by its mother?
The alternative is to force her to accept the lamb by tying her in one of those horrible adoption contraptions and forcing her to keep it.  I know which one I would choose, you have to decide which is right for you and your livestock raising ethos.


Cross posted with twizzel  :)


For me it would be a culling offence to reject a lamb every year. I had one that rejected her first lamb, the next year she did rear twins, the third year she had dead lambs and would not take an adopted lamb wearing a skin from one of her dead lambs. I took her to market and got over £100 for her in the cull pens.


I expect my ewes to rear 2 lambs- rejecting lambs is definitely a cullable offence from a maternal breed (my sheep are lleyns). Likewise is not rearing 2 lambs properly due to lack of milk. Lambing is full of hassle and I donít need more hassle, so I agree with womble here. As a side note with high cull values any ewes without live lambs this year have a 1 way ticket off the farm. But then Iím harsh and cull hard, no passengers  :roflanim: 
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 02:01:44 pm by twizzel »

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2021, 02:25:35 pm »
But then Iím harsh and cull hard, no passengers  :roflanim:


Yes, and I've seen you say this many times in the past, and winced.

But then we lost our rented grazing two years ago and that forced us into some really tough decisions. Basically the 20% of ewes which had caused us any issue at all went to the butcher (I wouldn't sell on a known problem)...... and lo and behold, 80% of our problems disappeared at the same time. Pareto was right, you know!


Yes, if we have another ewe to twin on to, we'll try it. We did try last year, but weren't successful and ended up bottle feeding the rejected one.


My approach to animals is that they probably do know what they are on about, so by culling her you are destroying a possibly valuable trait in your animals.


OK, so let's assume she was right both years. Two possibilities - 1) the lamb was defective in some way..... nope. Both rejected lambs went on to do just fine thank you. 2) She didn't have enough milk for two  - I'm afraid in a Zwartbles, yes, that is a hanging offence - sorry.


Is it so important that every ewe has twins, or is it more important that every lamb born is raised to good health by its mother?


Don't misunderstand me - if she had a single and accepted it, that would be fine. But that's two years running that she's given birth to two but only wanted one of them. She has one last opportunity this year. If there is anything I can do to help her succeed, then I'll give it a go of course.

However, I'm afraid you have to work hard to stay on our team, and leaving us with pet lambs to rear and no excuses is not acceptable. I have rookies waiting in the wings, and if they show more potential, then I'm sorry, it's burgers for you, and I make no apology for that.



« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 02:27:24 pm by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

silkwoodzwartbles

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2021, 02:30:13 pm »
Do you give a mineral drench pre or post lambing? I had a disastrous year with my Zwartbles when I first started. Only had 4 ewes to lamb and the first two weren't interested in their lambs at all, generally rejecting a twin each and only feeding the other when distracted (e.g. eating or drinking!) I consulted a couple of other breeders and one suggested mineral drenching all my ewes. The first two suddenly decided they did like their lambs after all and the last two were no trouble to lamb and mother up. The year after I drenched them pre-lambing and they all took their lambs nicely. This last year I've given everything a mineral drench every month including pre-lambing and they've been amazing so far - tons of milk, loving their lambs and really wanting them all to the point of not coming to the trough if their lambs are sleeping or feeding! Worth a try :fc:

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2021, 02:38:22 pm »
That's a good tip, Silkwoodzwartbles. Yes we do, actually.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2021, 03:20:36 pm »
Exactly. I am limited on numbers too, so the ewes I keep need to earn their keep too. I canít keep everyone... so sadly any cases of poor mothering, mastitis, prolapse, abortion, empty at scanning, caesarean sections, all have to go. This year was noticeably better in terms of lambing ease, and how little we had to mess around with lambs once they had been born. Up, sucked, mothered up, and out to the field  :thumbsup:

Hopefully your ewe takes both lambs  :fc:


That said, plenty of people like fleecewife will give second chances or be more lenient. Thereís nothing wrong with that, but it depends how commercial you want to be, and how much land is available.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 03:24:32 pm by twizzel »

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2021, 03:39:46 pm »
It is one of the many dilemmas of keeping livestock.  I can totally see that if your facilities, finances or whatever mean that always lambing twins is important, that you have to balance your books, then culling harshly is the way to go.  It's also the way to create a strong, healthy flock with good genetics, good mothering, good lambing and so on, absolutely.  But it's also worth listening to your sheep as silkwoodzwartbles has done, and hearing them telling you that something is not quite right.  It might be a mineral deficiency, inadequate feeding during pregnancy, overstocking, a worm burden, or any one of many other possibilities our sheep love to present us with. In the wild, sheep may have the opportunity to take themselves off to better grazing, to go to their natural salt lick, or whatever they need, but on a farm, the animals rely on their owners to keep things right.  It's up to us to work it out.


I hope your ewe performs well this year Womble and accepts her twins, or only has a single so there's no problem. We decided not to lamb this year with the pandemic, as we rely on selling stock direct from the smallholding, which is difficult with shielding.  We do carry passengers, but we just don't breed from them if there's a problem, so we have our breeding ewes and our grazing ewes and fleece wethers.  It's a different type of venture. 
It's good to have a discussion on this sort of topic, and interesting what comes out of it  :thumbsup:
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the the lifeblood of your land.

shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2021, 06:12:24 pm »
Maybe she can only count to 1 , no certain way to ensure she takes both but i suppose once you see her start to lamb then put her into a lambing pen , make sure she licks the first lamb then rub the second lamb and any fluids over the first lamb and try to keep them together in a heap . Most rejections of a twin happen when the ewe  concentrates on 1 lamb and the second wanders off or the ewe leaves the birth site to chase the first lively lamb , a good mother can hold all lambs on the birth site

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2021, 10:37:12 am »
Are you sure that she does not have a blind quarter?  I had an older ewe reject a lamb at 2 days this year and on checking milk would only come out of one side of her udder.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2021, 10:55:12 am »
Yes, she's fine. I'm not going to say her milk production is massive, but both quarters definitely work.

Shep - Yes, I think that's probably the best plan. I know that wasn't why her last one was rejected, but if she can't tell which one her favourite is, perhaps that will work!?
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Bramham Wiltshire Horns

  • Joined Oct 2014
  • leeds
  • Bramham flock Wiltshire Horns
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2021, 02:10:55 pm »
hi

our first year we had a ewe that rejected a triplet which was fine then and she mothered up really well with the other 2 lambs,

last year she lambed twins and rejected another one of the lambs lamb, i am in a position where i have small acreage and can only have limited numbers so i am at thesize of flock where i need to cull harder than usual.

i decided to cull the ewe, her first lambs are now due to lamb so will be keeping a close eye on how those lambs especially the Pet lamb she rejected gets on.

follow on FB@BramhamWiltshireHorns

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2021, 02:29:41 pm »
As a word of encouragement, it doesn't always go in families!  We bought a ewe with ewe lambs at foot, who was a fantastic mum. Her lamb turned out to be absolutely the worst though - two years in a row we found lambs in the field and had to go round looking at bums to figure out whose they were. Last year we managed to watch her lamb - she popped them out and then literally just wandered off! (Her name was Caribbean.  It turns out that Caribbean curry is delicious).

However, Caribbean's first daughter, Easter is a great Mum - much more like her Grandma.




"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Bramham Wiltshire Horns

  • Joined Oct 2014
  • leeds
  • Bramham flock Wiltshire Horns
Re: Ewe rejecting one lamb of twins
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2021, 02:39:30 pm »
As a word of encouragement, it doesn't always go in families!  We bought a ewe with ewe lambs at foot, who was a fantastic mum. Her lamb turned out to be absolutely the worst though - two years in a row we found lambs in the field and had to go round looking at bums to figure out whose they were. Last year we managed to watch her lamb - she popped them out and then literally just wandered off! (Her name was Caribbean.  It turns out that Caribbean curry is delicious).

However, Caribbean's first daughter, Easter is a great Mum - much more like her Grandma.

yes totally i agree and they will be given the best chance to raise the lambs etc. fingers crossed iwould hate to tell the Kids Orphan Annie and Bubblegum on the lunch menu :-)
follow on FB@BramhamWiltshireHorns

 

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