Lambing at the Ten Mile Farm
Katahdin sheep are excellent at lambing and normally need very little direct assistance. There are still a few things that we can do that will make the experience more pleasant for them and lead to healthier lambs.
The main thing we want to do is ensure they have a protected space to care for their new offspring. We want the Ewes and their lambs to be comfortable and have unfettered access to fresh water and a variety of feeds.
To accomplish this, we have modified our old chicken coup into a three stall “barn” for the girls. We will introduce the girls to their space a few days before lambing begins and keep them confined to this space until the lambs are about six weeks old.
One of our Ewes developed a hardened udder. This will prevent her from feeding her lambs. We will put her newborns in one of the three stalls and suspend a bucket with feeding nipples for them to use.
This set up provides protection from wind and rain. It will contain feed and water and the floor will be covered with straw.
The sheep should be quite content in this space. It will keep them warm, well fed, and provide them with a sense of security.
Another benefit of restricting their movement the first few weeks is that it will help conserve their energy. In the past, we have allowed Ewes and their lambs to roam the farm. This has resulted in two tragedies. This first tragedy was when a newborn lamb wandered into the pond at night and drowned. We were awoken by the mother’s desperate bleating as she searched for her lamb. It took us a full day of searching before we saw the lamb floating in the pond.
The second tragedy came when a young lamb found it’s way through the fence, but could not find it’s way back in. Young lambs need to feed every three to four hours and this one was separated from its mother for nearly 10 hours before we found it. As hard as we tried, we were not able to nurse it back to health.
The confined area will prevent these types of accidents and as long as we keep it clean, will provide the best environment for the Ewes and their lambs.