Posted by: kathandroger | January 16, 2016

Lambing-not for the squeamish.

We have kept a few sheep on our back field and wood  since we have been in France. They are primarily for keeping the grass under control and for meat when we have any lambs. For the past four years we have had two breeding yews and a ram. Initially our first ram became too aggressive to keep, but his replacement, Hercules, has been the perfect gentleman and a good sire to his ladies. Because we run the ram and  sheep all together, they produce very early in the year, often in January. This is no problem usually as there is still plenty of grass and we feed good hay and hard feed from early winter. Last year the girls had three babies between them with no problems, in fact we were away when our twins lambs arrived and our neighbours looked after them for us. So this year we were confident of again having a simple time. I should have known better. I kept a flock of Jacobs’ sheep in Dorset and lost count of the times lambing became difficult, even having to postpone a surgery because an obstructed labour. My patients all watched and the outcome was successful!

Clover, the larger sheep, was obviously ready to pop. After a couple of false alarms,she separated from the others and went into production. I am a great believer in letting nature take care of itself, and she had lambed three times before. To my dismay, on returning from the club bike ride on Wednesday, there was a head protruding from her, and she was in distress. Normally the sac with legs comes first, but we must have missed the initial onset of labour, possibly because of her very thick fleece and tail. I managed to grab her (we always lamb in the open field), but the head would not budge. Feeling inside, to my horror there was another head blocking the first lamb, and no feet to be felt. This is a very rare occurrence, and hard as I pushed I could not get the second head to go back into the womb and relieve the obstruction. The first lamb had been there with its head out for some hours, I guess, and it was cold and now dead. Luckily, Kath had now returned and was able to help by holding Clover whilst I dealt with the other end. The second lamb was still alive, but its mum was struggling by now, and so the only option was to remove the obstruction by cutting off the head of the first lamb. This I did with the now trusty bone saw from the old Medical kit, and was then able to push the body back within the uterus and pull out the second lamb. After clearing the muck around its mouth and slapping it about a bit, it was obviously still in the land of the living and Clover accepted it immediately. I was then easy to pull out the remains of the beheaded lamb and the placentas came naturally a few moments later. Clover was exhausted, the lamb was exhausted, and I was knackered too. We watched for a few minutes and then left them alone for an hour. By the time we returned the lamb was standing and the mother had struggled to her feet as well. There was no sign of suckling, and we again became worried. I put the teat into the lambs’ mouth and checked there was not blockage of the mother, but a great spurt of milk showed me that she was in full production. Later we checked feltIMG_3298 the lambs’ stomach, and it was bulging full! To cut an enduring story short, we now have a live and thriving new born lamb-we await the next delivery. Who would keep sheep?IMG_3304



  1. Well done for probably saving the lives of ewe and lamb. Fascinating stuff.

    • Thanks Jean, we have just fed her and all seems well, I wanted to give her some antibiotics as I had pulled her about so much with unclean hands, but our vet refused to let us buy any-they don’ t deal with sheep!

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