Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Night time checks  (Read 6021 times)


  • Joined Mar 2012
Night time checks
« on: March 29, 2012, 07:20:40 pm »
What does everyone else do about checking their pregnant ewes through the night?
I tend to check them just before I go to bed, at 2am and at 6am even if none are showing signs of lambing - but OH thinks I'm fussing too much.

I've had a few lamb at 2am (including my second set of twins on Tuesday night), and I find that some ewes lamb without any pre-warning (like my ewe on Monday who was happily munching away then half an hour later had produced twins).

I guess I'm just cautious.  :sheep:


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Cumbria/N Yorks border
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 07:46:31 pm »
I do 2am and 6am too  :)


  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 09:05:39 pm »
I've never yet had any who have lambed in the night, I check them last thing at night and first thing in the morning - only one ewe has lambed just prior to my early morning check.  All the others have very kindly produced during the day!
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep


  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Perthshire
    • Brucklay Pygmy Goats
    • Facebook
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2012, 09:09:11 pm »
Last year one of my Jacob lambed late afternoon and everyone else way 10-11pm - just waiting for dark and the wind to pick up a bit!!! Hence expecting something soon!!
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!


  • Joined Jan 2012
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2012, 09:12:10 pm »
I only had three sheep to lamb (for the first ever time) - the first one (who looked the furthest away) was discovered at 6.30am in distress struggling.  The vet saved the lamb and the ewe was fine but it really scared me- I felt very guilty.  So for the next two weeks I did 11, 2 and 5 (well my OH did one of the slots). Nothing every night they may as well have laughed at me.  Then I got twins at 9pm.  I was exhausted at this point and a little less neurotic so did 10.30, 2 and 6 (alternating the middle of the night one with my OH) for the next week.  The final one lambed at 10.45am.  I have three more to lamb in early May and will just stick to the 10.30, 2 and 6 for my sanity and I wonder if they will all lamb during the day too!
Very new to this all.  (very) Smallholder since March 2011 

12 Registered Soay sheep (8 breeding ewes, 2 Rams, 1 wether, 1 retired ewe) 5 Hens, 2 Cats, 1 labrador puppy


  • Joined Apr 2010
  • Perthshire
    • Brucklay Pygmy Goats
    • Facebook
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2012, 09:34:41 pm »
Just to get a bit more experience I popped into a farm I've have bottle lambs from before along the road from me, I asked when would my help be the best - 4.00am check so he could stay in bed so I don't think your checks are silly - I just aim for as late as I can and as early as I can - OH too much on his plate to do checks but is there if I need help
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 10:08:41 pm »
Outdoors is checked before dusk and after dawn.  Anyone looking imminent is brought in if we think there could be problems.  With the current weather, mostly we leave them out. 

For indoor ewes, we do 'late shift / early shift' - I do a very late check, BH gets up at first light. In the very rare circumstance that action looks likely and problems are anticipated, but I can't just lamb her now before I go to bed, then I may decide to get up between my late and his early shift - but it hasn't happened this year so far.  We have very few indoors, though, so there's a very low risk of mix-ups when several lamb at once and get confused about who's lamb is which.

However, when you are lambing hundreds all at the same time, you do have to prioritise where to spend your time and energy.  We probably take some risks that a small-scale keeper with ewes numbering in the tens or twenties would not wish or need to.  And we certainly get hands-on and lamb ewes that, given less numbers to cope with, we might prefer to just leave to get on with it in her own time.

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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • "Possibilities and miracles mean the same thing"
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2012, 10:37:16 pm »
......When we were in full swing lambing ,-10 pm  last check .
                                                              - 2-3am up and out again- often out in lambing shed for 40 mins or so sorting out new Born's.
                                                               - then first morning check 7am .
 My senses seemed tuned into the noises coming from barn -and often woken up by hearing vocal  ewes, as they went into labour !
All but finished lambing now  :sheep: :D so caught up on my sleep  :thumbsup:

Tilly  :wave:


  • Joined Apr 2011
  • lymington hampshire
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2012, 08:53:05 am »
Yep we do a late check about 22.00 and if anything looks like she going to lamb we go back a couple of hours later.Then we do early check about 6.00am


  • Joined Nov 2010
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2012, 12:56:40 pm »
Last year (our first) we checked them every 2 hours throughout the night. We took turns so we had 4 hours in between checks. Of course they all lambed during the day  ::) We're not expecting any lambs this year but I think we'd probably check less often unless we felt sure a lamb was imminent.


  • Joined Jan 2009
  • Pen Llyn
    • Viable Self
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2012, 03:14:20 pm »
I think a lot depends on how many ewes you have, how quickly you expect them to lamb and how willing you are to risk losses, mismothering and aggravating problems that don't get picked up quick enough.

As already said if you are lambing outside, you need to look round last thing and just before dawn (before the crows get out of bed) although if your ewes are in a field nearby and you have a very powerful torch, you ight just want to shine the light round in the middle of the night so you can check without having to disturb the sheep.

Indoors - well I can only tell you what we do. We had 180 ewes to lamb and all bar 14 of those to lamb in a fortnight, sso quite intensive. Once it gets busy either myself or my OH are on duty 24 hours a day, although we may not be in the shed, we will be about, or grabbing a quick 20 minute kip on the straw stack. Both of us manage about 4 hrs sleep a night. Now it has eased off, and we only have a dozen or so left, they are being checked every 1.5 hrs, with us taking it in turns so we are getting 2 three hours stretches of sleep each, per night, or thereabouts.

Our ewes rarely need assistance, but we feel that to loose a lamb just because we weren't there or were in bed is a bit slack really. Most of the year the sheep pretty much look after themselves, but a lambing time, we owe it to them to make sure they get the best of care. Given that we have only lost three lambs out of well over 200 hundred born suggests it works (and those were all premature low birth weight lambs).

Yes it is KNACKERING, but soon it will be done.
The SHEEP Book for Smallholders
Available from the Good Life Press


  • Joined Jun 2009
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2012, 02:26:35 pm »
We now have a webcam overlooking the ewes in the barn and a laptop next to the bed - bliss!  The best thing is being able to listen to them as well without disturbance.  However, we still do 11pm and 6am, it just means less obsessive checking in between.  We only have a few and none of the Shetlands have yet lambed in the middle of the night.

Pasture Farm

  • Joined Aug 2011
  • East Lincolnshire
  • Trusty Traca
    • Pasture Poultry
    • Facebook
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2012, 03:58:01 pm »

We have cameras in the barns laptop next to bed  :thumbsup: every hour or two


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2012, 05:10:42 pm »
I check at last light (when I can still actually see the sheep through binoculars) and not long after dawn. I try not to get in the field with them, even and I don't shine lights about to stir them up at night time.

I have no sheds etc, so I have to deal with problems outside if they occur. This is one of the reasons I lamb in April, I don't feel so bad about penning a ewe along a hedge then, not that it really happens that often.


  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: Night time checks
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 03:43:04 pm »
Our Shetland/Ryeland, Sylvie, on her third lambing, obviously knows this game.  I checked her last night at 0130 - absolutely no sign of anything happening , and 4 days to go.  OH went out there at 0600 this morning and she was tucked around the back of the barn feeding two snowy white ewe lambs.  Up, washed, dressed, fed and raring to go (unlike me).  ;D
At midday her pal Beryl, 1 day late, looked fit to burst so I pushed her into the barn (which she hates). 30 minutes later she popped out a ewe lamb which was up and tottering round the pen in 3 minutes. 10 minutes later, whilst standing up and feeding the first one, and scoffing coarse mix herself, she slid out a ram lamb.  I had to catch him before his head hit the floor.  ::)

 They were bought as unregistered store lambs 4 years ago - but I relented... Brilliant mothers, a lovely day.


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