Foster Lambs, 2012
First foster lamb eager for a warm, full tummy
Lambing on pasture is natural but can be fraught with difficulties that can result in foster lambs, so we check the several fields of ewes four times a day. Often we discover a small problem that could become serious if not caught soon enough: a ‘cast’ ewe (flat on her back); a ewe whose udders are so swollen the lambs can’t get their first suck; a newborn who has gotten though an impossibly tiny hole in the fence and can’t find mom. Rescues are deeply satisfying.
Jake found two very hungry lambs in his noon checking. Apparently a ewe birthed twins and simply lost track of one – or possibly chose to reject one. One of the foster lambs was still strong enough to stand and suck, and took readily to the lamb replacement formula that we feed. (We use stubby beer bottles, as they can fit in the microwave for quick reheating. We buy black rubber nipples designed for lambs.)
The other foster lamb couldn’t even lift its head. It’s a pretty black and white marked baby, and was just a few hours old. I milked the nipple, dribbling a few drops at a time down its throat. A few hours later he was up and yelling for more. This year’s Lazarus.
Another possible reason a lamb might become fostered is if a ewe has triplets and the smallest one can’t compete.
When possible Christopher sets up an adoption with a ewe if she’s lost a lamb at birth – but so far we’ve had few of those. Otherwise, we send them to a new home where they’ll be raised. We just got a report that one of last year’s foster lambs birthed a lamb last week. Our other potential home has a child with ADD, and the farming parents want the nurturing, tactile experience for the child. It’ll be lovely for the lamb too.
We’ve had 8 foster lambs so far with 6 already in their new home. We have a few weeks to go yet.