Finally, after some challenging times and a three week spread, all the ewes have delivered. Eight lambs, two born around midnight this morning. Five boys, three girls. I did not expect everyone to twin this season.
The bottle ram has been able to get up on his own, and is probably going to be introduced to the other lambs today or tomorrow. He’ll probably be out on pasture before the weekend.
A third ewe birthed yesterday, it was not easy for her and she had surprise ram/ewe twins. The ram’s horn buds were really stuck in there and he had to be pulled out by my husband. She’s our other first-timer and she managed to do ok with the ewe that followed very unexpectedly (my husband was worried it was a prolapse until it became clear it was just another bag and lamb), but I think we have a new fiber wether if he gets his feet today.
I was up all night with him, he is pretty loud, which is a good sign, so that’s all for now.
I checked on all of them this morning and the little ewe lamb looked a little wan, so I reached out to gently poke her to stand up as I had yesterday and she jumped up, ran for her dam and immediately nursed.
If they can run from you, things are probably fine. And they both already figured out how to do that. The new mother hasn’t cleared up all her placenta, but that is not so uncommon. It’s just lying around, and the black and tan ewe herself doesn’t look bad and was eating with typical vigor when I showed up.
These lambs are still less than 24 hours old, but it looks good from here.
Our black and tan ewe (we didn’t get around to naming everyone just yet, haha) just finished birthing a pair of evening lambs. We are monitoring right now, the ewe looked a little weak, but a small poke on my part and she got up and wobbled over to the udder, so it looks like both probably got some colostrum. We’ll be back out around 8pm to see if they still look good. We may delay dipping the cords until tomorrow, the first set of twins did ok with the wait.
For this ewe, it’s the first lambing and the mothering instincts are a little nervous. The other ewes have left plenty of room and Bucky, the father is pacing away in the ram pen, which is still kind of cute and charming.
This is going to be a restless night, but both the ram and the ewe lamb look pretty sturdy. Here’s hoping.
The two ram lambs are growing about 1lb per day per lamb, based on the weighings we were able to manage. They are increasing in vigor and size visibly. They’re also darkening up, with a lot more brown than when they were newborn. They are not likely to have much white, that is both recessive and not heavily selected for in the American Icelandic genetic pool. As far as I’ve seen, shepherds of Icelandics in America cater to wool buyers who want a range of colors and not just white dye-friendly wool. White wool isn’t rejected, it’s just not necessarily as sought after by people who want this fleece. Also, many Icelandic-raising shepherds like working with wool themselves and also have a personal preference for the color variety of brown, black and spotted that is typical for the breed.
I think the other ewes must have been covered later than my recollections. I looked back at my posts around that time and it looks like the first week of November might be when they were bred and not the very tail end of October. The grey ewe was settled very quickly, which is surprising given that she remains our most skittish and feral ewe herself. But I thought the gap between her and the others was just two or three or maybe four days. If it was a week or so, then we could be waiting until the first few days of April for all the lambs to finish making their appearances.
We’re going to see if we can put together a permanent ram pen rather than a temporary one. Even though Icelandics are not prone to out of season conception, their season goes through April, and they return to fertility during that time. So it will be easiest going forward to keep the rams completely separate from the girls, especially since it will mean less work separating ewelambs from breeding ewes. It’s too bad, it would be easier if they could stay in all summer with the ewes and the new lambs. But our rams do better without the distraction of the ladies, surprisingly. No dominance fighting, sharing food occasionally, and generally calmer.
We had to dip the cords in iodine, so that meant actually catching both lambs. We have two little mostly-white rams, they look quite a bit like their sire.
Found out having two sexually mature rams in with the ewes equals one hassled new mother. So we will separate the rams when the flock returns to the barn once it gets dark. Live and learn. The other ewes figured out what we wanted to do and have been separating the almost-adult rams themselves most of the evening, but we’ll make it official before bed.
It’s been a challenging day. And another ewe looks like she might lamb tomorrow. We’ll see. And we’ll see how the newest little ram lambs do overnight. Hopefully very well, they can run like the wind already.
Both lambs and their mother are now out in the main pasture and Bucky, the father, is actually showing fatherly behavior, gently nudging one of the lambs back towards mom when it tries foolishly to get milk from him. Both lambs were able to run, and the one I thought was on the weak side climbed right over a big branch the sheep use for hoof scratching. They both also got through the muddy entrance to the barn (yes, we put straw down, but it’s just a lost cause with all the rain we get).
So I have a little quick food ready, and will make up a bottle if need be, but they both look ok. I haven’t tried to touch the lambs or the ewe, although before bedtime husband and I will try to catch her for a quick udder check. She isn’t showing any signs that there’s inflammation or soreness, but if we can grab her for a quick once-over, that wouldn’t hurt.
And now I will try to not create a cause for intervention and let the lambs and ewe hang out for a couple hours and get more settled. It’s hard to remember that going up to ogle them is also a form of needless interfering if they are getting along.
The flock is very protective and extremely gentle with the new lambs. No sheep is butting the lambs or making the mother nervous/defensive. It’s really interesting, I had no idea what to expect as far as flock behavior.
My only worry is the seasonal flooding the pasture gets, but I think the sheep can keep the lambs safe, as they’ve been avoiding the flooded area on their own for quite a while now.