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Author Topic: Can she stay ??  (Read 1142 times)


  • Joined Sep 2015
Can she stay ??
« on: January 13, 2019, 06:56:15 pm »
After having a bit of a rainy day I thought I'd have a little think about our sheep. We have only been smallholders for a couple years and around 18 months ago went into purebred Derbyshire Gritstones, we currently have 13 (including 1 ewe lamb we kept as a replacement) but haven't tupped the autumn just gone due to work commitments this spring.

I am thinking about what ewes we've got and which ones I will be breeding off, my main question is one beautiful ewe struggled at her first lambing last year, tupped fine, pregnancy went as normal, labour started etc but for some reasons no contractions ever followed so the vet ended up coming out and giving a C- section to deliver what he thought was one dead lamb ..... turned out we had two very healthy and lively twin lambs which she refused to rear as the vet thought as she hadn't gone through the proper delivery process so didn't see these lambs as hers. It was the first time we have had a vet out due to lambing difficulties so I am presuming that because she has had a C-section she shouldn't be bred from again ????

She is probably the best example of the breed we have (her lambs were great too) so I can't bring myself to send her as a cull ewe but have no experience of whether it is safe to try again and for her to be re-tupped as I wouldn't want to risk her or the lambs so could probably try and find a pet home if not.

Thanks in advance


  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2019, 07:22:03 pm »
It is probably safe for her. Not sure its wise. All could go well etc etc but - risks increase for her and maybe she is not the best you have after all as she failed to do the minimum a ewe should do, create lambs with no drama


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2019, 08:20:19 pm »
When you say she is the best example of the the breed what you mean is she is very good looking , the number of sheep keepers who say this  about a sheep based  on looks when a good example is a ewe with decent looks who nicks with  a decent looking ram, lambs her self  every year has plenty of milk and is a great mother .   Your sheep has 3 failures against her  so I would not want her .   I have only had  4 ceasers in sheep and 2 in cows over 50 yrs  and 2 sheep 2  cows reared own offspring , 1 died  after  day or so and the last had a lamb fostered onto her , all then sold fat plus the offspring .  Many pedigree breeders  would keep and try again even if it means a second ceaser


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2019, 08:35:13 pm »
...... which then breeds potential problems in to future generations as well!

We've made the decision not to sell any animal on for breeding that we wouldn't 100% happily breed from ourselves. At the end of the day, any animal we sell goes out there with our name attached to it, and it's easier to lose a reputation than gain one.

Also, we realised that the time to cull harshly is right at the start of your sheep keeping. Problems breed problems, so get rid of problems *before* they work their way through your flock. I'd send her for mutton, and look to buy in the best replacement I possibly could.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2019, 09:56:57 pm »
I'm soft and I'd give her another chance. After all, with only 13 ewes and not breeding this year, it's not like you're relying on the income!
As the vet said, the rejection of the lambs was probably due to the caesarian which stopped all her mothering hormones being produced.
I had a Ryeland ewe one that had a caesarian ewe for her first birth. She went on to have other lambs with no problem and at 3 years old won best of breed and topped the market at a breed sale.
However, next time they are pregnant I would make sure they have a vitamin/mineral lick or bucket in case there was a deficiency implicated in last year's problem.

Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2019, 10:00:38 pm »

There may be nothing wrong with her that would cause her to have a difficult labour again or there may be… you don't know.

First-time lambers can take a long time lambing, you may just have been too impatient (one of my ewes walked around for several days last spring, doing the pawing of the ground looking as if starting and then just getting up again and going for feed - in the end she did her thing and all was fine). I can't see why the vet did a C-section, mine will not do it unless there is a clear indication that something is very wrong and s/he would be unable to deliver any other way and he will not do it if he thinks the lamb (or kid in my case) is dead! Did the vet give you an opinion as to why he thought the problem (if indeed there was one) occurred and he could not go in an get the lambs out but had to do a C-section?

However once done I would not breed from that ewe again and also not sell her for breeding (just because vet call-outs are expensive, and usually more than the ewe is worth, so my risk assessment says - too risky and you will always be able to breed another good ewe!).
I have also found (in goats and in a few sheep) that once they have difficulty in lambing/kidding (serious mal-presentation for example) it does happen again - but I never had to resort to C-section (yet!).  But
I don't see why you should assume her offspring is not good, I would try, especially if you a) pure breed and b) can get them scanned to make sure the right amount of feed in the last 6 weeks so not overfat - one of the main reasons 1st timers have difficulty in lambing/kidding.


  • Joined Sep 2015
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 07:39:17 am »
Brill, thank you for your replies as C-sections in sheep is something we've never experienced before. We did presume she would have to go which is a shame but I personally wouldn't want to risk tupping her again so I am hoping to try and find a pet / lawnmower / fleece home if possible.
As you have all said problem breeds problems, both her lambs were sold last year so we haven't kept anything from her and as we're only just really starting off in gritstones I want to be gradually improving what we've got over time, not the opposite.

Thanks again


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2019, 10:55:31 am »
It sounds like Ringwomb to me. I had a ewe with it last year, similar to you she was one of my better ewes. She had minimal dilation, no contractions and had I not seen a tiny bit of the water bag protruding I wouldn't of known she was lambing. It took a long time to get her to open up enough, but the vets managed to deliver one dead and one live lamb.

I wouldn't take the chance of breeding from her again. If the bag doesn't show, or you miss it, you could end up loosing the ewe, her lambs and have a massive vets bill. I agree with others that its not fair to sell on your problem stock, so even if you found a nice grazing home for her you still don't know they they won't sell her on?

I would cull her now


  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 08:09:13 pm »
I would cull if you are not breeding this year, your girls will be fat and the risk of having issues will be greater. Try to keep them as fit as you can ready for next tupping season... easier said then done! I only ever skipped one lambing. Never again!


  • Joined Jan 2019
Re: Can she stay ??
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2019, 09:31:54 pm »
I always give mine another chance, especially if it was her first time. They quite often do better second time round having gone through it before, having said that make sure not to feed her too much through the pregnancy to keep the lambs smaller!


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