Phew! Despite the whirl wind of activity the past two weeks, I have learned two helpful tips for shepherds this lambing season. Our lambing began on March 15, one day after our big snowstorm, and ended this past Wednesday. The day before the storm, we worked feverishly to tighten up our old barn. With lambs due any day, and wind chills well below zero, we wanted to be sure that the ewes had dry, warm places for delivering their lambs. They all held off until 5am, the morning after the storm. For the next 21 hours, we would have four ewes deliver with more to follow just a few days later. Early this week, our last two ewes gave birth.
As with every lambing season, there were challenges and rewards, and new tricks learned. This lambing season there were two new things which I learned from other seasoned shepherds which I will continue to use.
Helpful Tips for Shepherds During Lambing
- Velcro Name Bands-I usually do not put ear tags in my new lambs until they are about 8 weeks old. Their little ears are so tiny that I do not want to hit the vein that runs through their ear. In the past, we have also had lambs who rip their tags out causing their ears to tear. This year, I was concerned about how I would identify all of my lambs. A friend of mine who raises Dwarf Nigerian goats told me about calf leg bands. They use these velcro bands to label all of their kids as they are born. The bands are wide enough that they cut them in half in order to make two bands out of each one. They come in a variety of colors so you can color code your lambs as well. I made a few out of white velcro that I had at home while waiting for my order to come in. My husband says that it makes all the lambs look like priests.
- The Secret Sauce-We had two sets of triplets this year. One of the little ewes from a set of triplets has had a tough time adjusting to our crazy weather with its ups and downs in temperature and relentless snow. I noticed that she was standing all hunched up and did not nurse vigorously. She did not run and play with the others either. Her temperature was normal, so I knew she was not necessarily sick. I was talking with Theresa from Great Bay Wool Works in New Hampshire. She told me that my little lamb needed some Secret Sauce. Theresa shared her recipe with me and told me to drench the lamb with 2-4 oz. of the mixture. About 4 hours after giving her a dose of Secret Sauce, she was bouncing around and stealing milk off of other moms. This wonderful concoction provides important microbes for digestion, energy, and lubrication for jump starting sluggish digestive tracts. I will keep this recipe handy and am forever grateful to Theresa for sharing it with me.
Theresa’s Secret Sauce for Sheep
1 cup greek yogurt
2T vegetable oil
2T Karo Syrup (I used maple syrup.)
Enough Nutri-Drench to thin it enough to go through a drencher.
Feed 2-4 oz. at a time.