Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Triplets are a mixed blessing

Sonatina with her triplets about 8 hours after they were born.

 While triplets are not uncommon for Shetland sheep, they are not an everyday occurrence.  Sonatina is a deep bodied girl in great body condition and as the days ticked with everyone dropping lambs around her, she continued to balloon in size.  I jokingly said, “She is so big she could have triplets in there” and all the while not really saying it with much conviction.   I did my final barn check one night to fine her nesting in the corner of the common area and decided to put her in a jug because delivery seemed to be imminent.  I had added cameras to the outside and inside of the shed this year so I kept watch from the house until I saw that a lamb become visible.  I headed to shed and there was this very tiny black krunet sokket ewe lamb being cleaned off.  I was thrilled to have such a lovely ewe lamb, but was really puzzled by how tiny she was considering Sonatina’s size!   I got comfortable in my chair and waited for the next lamb to appear and after about 15 minutes I saw more white hooves emerging and a very large wildly spotted grey Katmoget ewe was out in record time.  I thought to myself that now the first lamb made sense because this girl was huge.
As I watched her take care of the lambs, I suddenly realized there wasn’t a water bag that followed that last ewe lamb out and that I was either going to have to call the vet or there was another lamb coming.  Sonatina didn’t even lay down for the last lamb, she barely even had contractions when a small water bag appeared and just hung there with this tiny lamb in it.  It only took me a few moments to realize that he was in trouble if I didn’t break that water bag, and with quite a lot of effort I finally got it open and one of the tiniest lambs I’ve ever seen was out.  This little guy was about 2.5#’s, a fawn kat with wild spotting and he was weak and chilling fast.  I scrambled around for heat lamps, a pole to hang a lamp, an extension cord, more towels to dry him and a few boards and panel to block drafts.  It took about 45 minutes for the little guy to get warmed up and then he was up and looking for food!!  I was thrilled because 10 minutes after he was born he couldn’t even lift his little head. 
After a lot of failed attempts, the little fella was finally nursing and I could breathe a sigh of relief.  I had given all 3 a couple shots of Nutri Drench, so they were all bouncing around by the next morning like they didn’t have a care in the world.  They are now growing like weeds and you’d never know that the ram and that first ewe were ever that much smaller than their large sister at birth. 

Sonatina is a perfect example of a  ewe with great mothering instincts and still has plenty of milk for 3 lambs, (says this grateful shepherd) and I am very happy to report that all 3 have amazing tight, crimpy fleeces and lovely birth coats. 
Below is a photo of Lynx, the tiny ram that was last of the triplets born, warming under the heat lamp. 
And here are the triplets about after a few weeks of being taken care of by a fantastic Shetland ewe.  
Right to left: Lynx, Leda and Larissa 

As you can see, there are no signs of these lambs not getting enough nutrition, so this ewe will be sticking around in my flock for a while, she exhibits everything that I want to see in a Shetland ewe.   Sonatina has definitely earned her keep here for the foreseeable future. 
Kelly K. Bartels
OK Acres Shetlands

Monroe, WI  

Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....