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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping sheep
...Slaughter practicality
...Jacobs crosses
...Ram management
...- Feeding
...- Castration & strike
...Summer & autumn

The main aim through the preceding months has been to bring the ewe to lambing in a fit not fat condition, with her lambs healthy and well grown.

If your ewes have not been inwintered, they should come in now. It is certainly worth spending time and effort to provide yourself with a building to lamb in. Even a temporary shelter of straw bales close to the house makes a great difference. If you ever have to attend to a ewe which is lambing in an exposed field in the early hours of the morning, with the wind howling and the hurricane lamp flickering, you will recognise the appeal of lambing indoors. If your vet has to accompany you on your cold mission, he will certainly add weight to the cause.

To get the most live lambs and that is what it is all about you want to be in pretty constant attendance. If the ewe drops her lambs cleanly and enthusiastically licks them dry, all you have to do is watch to see that the lambs suckle. If the ewe struggles for a while and is in obvious discomfort then call the vet, unless you have had a lot of experience in lambing yourself. Twin lambs can get tangled up inside the ewe, a lamb's head can get jammed backwards all kinds of difficulties can prevent the ewe from an unaided delivery. Putting a hand into the ewe to help is only successful if you can identify what you have hold of and this is astonishingly difficult. When the vet helps he generally gives the ewe an antibiotic in case an infection sets in. Sometimes the lambs that arrive are very dopey and if the mother does not lick them hard enough you must take all the mucus from around the lamb's nose and face. A good rub with a rough towel is often enough to get the little one going. When a lamb is really cold and not reacting, the most effective life-saving operation is to warm it up. For years the traditional way to do this has been to pop it in front of the fire or in the cool oven of the Aga with the door open! We have revived all sorts of apparently hopeless creatures this way. There are now quite a few gadgets available without resorting to the kitchen: most work on a kind of boxed-in hairdrier theory.