As the world is in turmoil one thing keeps going – mother nature!
I have been incredibly busy over the last few weeks kidding our pygmy goats and lambing our Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset ewes.
Our pygmy goats decided to kid within 24 hours of each other, Frankie had a lovely set of twins, a boy and a girl, with just a little helping hand from me. Freya popped out a lovely girl all by herself. Both have taken to motherhood very well and are incredibly protective of their babies, making a strange grunting noise if anybody comes too close. After a week of being inside and beginning to jump on various obstacles I decided it was time to put them outside for them to enjoy the lovely sunshine we have been experiencing. They are sharing a pen with our 3 bottle lambs, much to the disgust of both species. Every morning we take them out and in the evening they come back into the safety of the barn. As they are so small at this stage, a fox or badger may see them as a very tasty meal.
We have had a very successful lambing this year, 16 of 19 ewes have so far lambed. 9 of our Dorset Horn ewes were first time mothers and all have taken to it very well, some with a bit more encouragement than others. We lamb outside, which takes a lot time with me walking around fields looking at sheep all day, but it seems to work well for our system. As soon as they have lambed and the lamb has had its first feed of vitally important colostrum, we then move the ewe and lamb into a small pen inside for 24 hours, to allow them to bond and check they are both healthy and happy. After that they are then moved into a barn for a few days with lots of other ewes and lambs. Then if all is well they go back outside onto fresh grass. If they are small or if we are expecting a lot of rain they have lamb macs on, these are little plastic jackets designed for young lambs. They are checked twice daily in the field, to spot any problems and deal with them quickly. Thankfully we have been lucky with the weather and have had a lot of twins, which is perfect for a sheep as they only have two teats. Margaret our lovely friendly ewe who many of you may have met at our fayres on the Estate has had a set of triplets.
I am currently caring for 3 bottle or pet lambs, often you end up with a pet lamb if the mother rejects one, if a ewe does not have enough milk for her lambs or often a ewe has a set of triplets and cannot cope with rearing all three. Lambs are never taken off of mum if they are happy and healthy – it is always a last resort. In the first week of life I feed the lambs every 4 hours – this includes through the night. From a week old they are fed 4 times a day with a powdered milk substitute, they become incredibly friendly and always tend to think you are going to be feeding them milk.
Agricultural Manager at Symondsbury Estate