Spring definitely feels to be just around the corner and at Donaldson’s Vets that means one thing – Lambing Time.
During the day, there is a steady procession of sheep brought to the surgery in the back of Land Rovers and Pickups for help with lambing and the procession seems only to increase at night when our on-call vets deal with lambing emergencies as well as the usual year-round emergency cases in domestic pets and farm animals.
Fortunately most difficult lambings can be manipulated within the Ewe but many of the cases we see are at the most difficult end of the spectrum and clients waiting in the surgery to have their rabbit’s claws clipped or their cats vaccinated are often surprised to see a sheep being lead through the waiting room either on the way to or from the Operating theatres for a caesarean section.
As well as being a seasonal addition to our clinical work at the practice, this is an especially busy time of the year for me as I am also lambing my own sheep at home. We aim to serve all our sheep within a few days in Autumn so that our ewes lamb in as tight a group as possible. This allows us to juggle our busy work and family commitments with the need to be on hand to supervise our sheep at lambing time and this year we excelled ourselves with all our sheep lambing within just 4 days of each other.
Even with such a tight lambing period, we started checking on the sheep every 2 hours round the clock over a week before their due date and by the time we had lambed the last sheep, we were exhausted. Farmers who lamb hundreds of sheep over weeks and weeks deserve a medal for their stamina.
We tend to lamb our sheep in the field to reduce infection build up in the lambing pens, but then get the ewes and new-born lambs indoors as soon as possible to allow the lambs a chance to bond with their mums and become more robust. The few days when we were lambing was pretty cold, wet and windy so we had to house the lambs very quickly when they were born to avoid hypothermia and this meant that vigilance and regular, round the clock checks were essential.
Last year, our sheep and lambs were indoors for nearly 4 weeks because of the terrible snow we suffered. This year, we have been blessed with much kinder conditions and we were able to turn them out on Sunday.
There is no more rewarding a moment in a sheep farmers year than watching ewes and lambs turned out and enjoying a little early spring sunshine………….then going to bed to catch up with some much needed sleep!