The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: mariegold on May 01, 2021, 11:47:55 am

Title: Stressed out new mum
Post by: mariegold on May 01, 2021, 11:47:55 am
Morning all,

One of my ewes (first time mum) gave birth to twins this morning. When I got there, she was just delivering the afterbirth. One of the other ewes was trying to 'steal' a lamb and was cleaning it and letting it suck from her (she has a lamb of her own). This was really distressing for the ewe that had just lambed. I've got the new mum and her twins into a pen,but the mum isn't settling, she's only letting the lambs feed from her for a couple of seconds before pushing them off and circling the pen so they can't latch on again. She's obviously really stressed out. I'm worried the lambs aren't getting enough to drink. She's letting the lamb she cleaned herself feed a bit more than the lamb that was 'stolen'. Will things calm down and sort themselves out or should I intervene and bottle feed the lambs? Their bellies are only half full, but they are warm, clean.
Thanks for any advice.
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: twizzel on May 01, 2021, 01:10:29 pm
It could be she’s rejecting the one that was stolen. Try to hold her steady (use a halter if needed) and plug both lambs on to have a good drink, if not milk her off and tube them so you know they’ve had enough colostrum. I’d persevere for a few days before lifting one or both off.
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: mariegold on May 01, 2021, 02:02:07 pm
Thank you for the reply. I've just followed your advice and put her on the halter. Both lambs had a good feed, but she is definitely rejecting the stolen one. Should I now do this every few hours for the next few days in the hope that they bond?
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: Anke on May 01, 2021, 03:10:59 pm
Thank you for the reply. I've just followed your advice and put her on the halter. Both lambs had a good feed, but she is definitely rejecting the stolen one. Should I now do this every few hours for the next few days in the hope that they bond?


Yes I would leave them penned up for a few days so you can keep an eye on things and hold both lambs onto her regularly. As she is a first timer it may take her a bit longer to settle. If she starts to push/but the lamb(s) away, I would have them in an adjacent pen and put them back for feeds only - she will start to shout for them in a day or so.
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: Fleecewife on May 01, 2021, 04:28:55 pm
The problem is that the stolen lamb smells of the other ewe, both from being washed by it and by having drunk milk from her (which makes the back end smell wrong).  So she thinks she has someone else's lamb in her pen.  Take a handful of her expressed milk and rub it over both lambs, especially their heads and tails (this leaves a horrid mess but will encourage her to lick them both, plus they will smell the same and of her.  Once her milk goes through the stolen lamb then it will smell of her properly.


Years ago we noticed our neighbour with a canister of 'Pledge' furniture polish in his quad lambing box.   ???  we asked?  He used it to spray a little near the mother's nose so she couldn't smell much in case she was going to reject her lamb (seems counterintuitive to me as she must have bonded by then surely), and to spray onto the lambs to keep the fox away, as these lambs were going on the hill.
It occurs to me that you could lessen her sense of smell with that trick in your situation, but the milk on the head has worked fine for us.


Carry on with holding her at each feed as recommended above of course but this should speed things up.





Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: shep53 on May 01, 2021, 06:21:31 pm
When a ewe rejects one of her own lambs it is very rare to get her to accept it what ever you do , in my case i either remove the lamb and bottle feed until a new mother comes along or fit a halter on the ewe and tie her to pen corner allowing enough length for her to feed & drink and let her feed both lambs until a new mother comes along , this year i had a ewe tied up for 3 weeks and for the first time EVER she went out to the field with both lambs . Just make sure she can't injure or kill the rejected lamb
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: mariegold on May 01, 2021, 07:36:29 pm
Thanks for the replies everyone.
It's weird, she seems to care for the lamb, as she sniffs it and licks it and is quite attentive towards it. I took it out of the pen and the ewe was looking for it. She just goes a bit mental if it tries to feed from her.
She's decided she's happy to feed the favoured lamb without being restrained.
I'll keep them together in the pen for a couple more days and persevere. Was thinking of getting the lamb to feed every 3 hours until midnight and then start again at 5a.m. Will she be ok with a long gap at night? I've got a toddler to look after all day!
Will try the milk trick too, but maybe not the pledge :roflanim:
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: twizzel on May 01, 2021, 07:40:37 pm
If she’s hellbent against the other lamb, I’d probably lift it and put it on the bottle, and turn her out with 1 lamb.
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: Anke on May 01, 2021, 08:56:10 pm
If she’s hellbent against the other lamb, I’d probably lift it and put it on the bottle, and turn her out with 1 lamb.


I wouldn't unless you already have a bottle lamb, ending up with a single bottle lamb is a pain (mine always think they are goats, as they will grow up with the kids).


I think the milk trick mentioned above and putting the lamb onto her until it smells right at the backend should work, as she is licking it. I would also remove both lambs and put them onto her together. They will soon smell the same.


And yes, as long as they get a good feed at midnight they should be ok until 5 or 6am. They will just be extra hungry, which may well be a bonus.
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: mariegold on May 02, 2021, 12:52:31 pm
Thanks again for the advice. The ewe became really aggressive towards the lamb this morning so we've decided to bottle feed her in the field. Mum will tolerate her being close by and is sort of interested in her, as long as she doesn't try to feed from her. So far, so good. We've got milking goats, so will feed her on their surplus milk. Fingers crossed we've reached a compromise.
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on May 02, 2021, 02:02:40 pm
Thanks again for the advice. The ewe became really aggressive towards the lamb this morning so we've decided to bottle feed her in the field. Mum will tolerate her being close by and is sort of interested in her, as long as she doesn't try to feed from her. So far, so good. We've got milking goats, so will feed her on their surplus milk. Fingers crossed we've reached a compromise.

Is each lamb feeding from a different side?  If so, check that there isn't something wrong with the teat on the side of the one she's rejecting... also worth checking if the rejected one has teeth which could be sore on her if she's a first timer.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: mariegold on May 02, 2021, 02:11:47 pm
She does have teeth! I wonder if that is part of the problem. I've also just realized that the ewe doesn't have a very big udder, maybe she doesn't have enough milk for both....
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: shep53 on May 02, 2021, 05:41:09 pm
All lambs have teeth
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: mariegold on May 02, 2021, 08:45:07 pm
Well that hasn't gone to plan! I now have a lamb in my house (our land is a 15 minute walk away). This seems a bit bonkers/unnatural but my farming neighbour keeps her lambs in the living room and suggested I do the same! It's ok for a couple of nights but it's taken me two years to get my toddler to sleep through the night and I can't face her being kept up by a noisy lamb.....
Will she be ok in a pen by herself in the field? At least then she can see the other sheep and have a nibble on the grass when she's ready to. I can put a roof over it to keep her dry. Silly me for not thinking about this before hand!
Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: Anke on May 03, 2021, 07:35:51 am

Will she be ok in a pen by herself in the field? At least then she can see the other sheep and have a nibble on the grass when she's ready to. I can put a roof over it to keep her dry. Silly me for not thinking about this before hand!


I wouldn't leave a lamb without a ewe in a pen by herself, foxes may just take a chance esp if the lamb is noisy. Do you have a garage or safe outbuilding? If you have a goat shed, can you put the lamb in a pen in there, next to the goats/kids? That's what I do, usually the lambs will grow up believeing they are goats as well.


Also, again having a single bottle lamb is really difficult. It does take sometimes a few days for the ewe to accept their lambs, esp if a first timer was confused by other ewe interfering.



Title: Re: Stressed out new mum
Post by: twizzel on May 03, 2021, 08:05:32 am
The best thing to do would be either find a spare lamb from another farmer and rear them on the bottle together, or sell the lamb to somewhere where it will have company. There’s no point trying to make a ewe that clearly doesn’t want the lamb take it, just for convenience to you  :thinking:  you could put her in an adopter but given she’s lambed a couple or days now, would be surprised if she had a change of heart now.