In addition to my veterinary job, my wife, my son and I also have a smallholding where we keep hens and Pedigree Southdown Sheep and Berkshire Pigs.
The first hints of spring we have seen this week herald the start of spring and at our house that means “Lambing Time”.
We have slowly grown our flock over the last few years having started with 2 Ewes who were given to us. Last year we bought a new Tup called Augustus at the Pedigree Southdown sales in Worcester. The first year we had lambs which we called names beginning with the letter A and we are slowly progressing through the alphabet. This year all the lamb’s names will begin with D.
Since I am at the surgery for much of the time, we try to organise our lambing so that the sheep lamb within a compact time frame. This allows us to keep a close watch on them at this important time. To predict the lambing date, Augustus wears a marker so that we can tell which ewes he has served. Sheep are pregnant for 144 days so our sheep were predicted to lamb at around Thursday last week.
The weekend before lambing we prepared the lambing pens, checked that we had sufficient colostrum and readied ourselves for a series of interrupted nights sleep. At lambing time, my wife and I tend to take it in turns to do checks every 2 hours and sure enough, at 5am on Wednesday morning, our first lambs were born. Our 6 year old Son has named them Dumpling and Dotty. Since Wednesday, the days (and the nights) have been punctuated with regular new arrivals.
The last of our ewes still had not lambed when I left for work on Monday morning but I got a phone call at lunch time from my wife who reported that she had started lambing. My wife had felt the lamb and it felt large. When I got home, the ewe had made no progress despite having strong contractions. A feel inside and a lambing rope behind the lambs ears confirmed my worst suspicions – the lamb was too large to pass through the ewes pelvis so a caesarean section was the only option.
We bundled up the ewe and rushed her to the surgery while phoning ahead to alert the nurses to prepare for the imminent arrival.
At the surgery, the nurses helped me to unload and prepare her for the operation and within half an hour, two lambs (one giant and one not so large) were bleating for the attentions of their mum from a cardboard box in the corner of the theatre.
Having stitched up the ewe, given her antibiotics and pain killers and checked the lambs over, I could then get back to the business of treating other peoples animals instead of my own.