Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a prolific list maker – a holiday cottage will do that to you! I love making lists, shopping lists, to do lists, you name it I will make a list. But one of my very favourite lists is the one I have just written and its ‘The Lambing List’.
The Lambing List is a list of all the due dates of our expectant ewes, detailing their name – yes they do all have names and they all do look different to the trained eye of the farmer, which date they are due to lamb, and probably most important of all how many lambs they are expecting.
Each year in December the sheep scanner visits to scan each of the sheep, to see how many lambs she is carrying. It’s very similar to the scan which a human would have in pregnancy, but instead of the excited father present, there is an excited farmer instead!
Sheep will usually have anything from one to three lambs, with the occasional set of quads. The ideal number is two, as the sheep only has two teats so if there are three, then one lamb always gets pushed out, and it usually the smallest one. As one old farmer once explained it “the table is only set for two!”
When a sheep gives birth to triplets, we try to foster one of the lambs onto another ewe who only has one lamb, as she will usually have spare milk and it gives the lamb a much better chance of thriving. Not all sheep are happy about this arrangement but we can usually win them around in the end!
So, getting back to my list, this is laminated or should I say lambinated (sorry) and hung in the lambing shed ready for the action to begin. The information is also important when caring for the sheep prior to lambing as the ones expecting triplets will next extra feed and TLC, whilst the ones carrying just a single need to be give less food. This it to prevent the single lamb growing too large, which can lead to difficulties when giving birth and in extreme cases we require the vet to perform a caesarean.
So with just a few more weeks to wait for lambing to begin, the shed is cleared out, the pens are washed, the Lambing List is ready to go – I can’t wait!
We have a weekend or two of Availability in the holiday barn if you’d like to come and meet the lambs and young animals, and explore springtime Derbyshire.