Its February……So that means the start of Lambing.
At Crake Trees we lamb in various stages through February, March and April.
The first Ewes to give birth this year are Mules. This breed has been the traditional choice of sheep farmers for over a hundred years. They are a crossed breed of Swaledale mother from the fells with the Blue Faced Leicester lowland ram (Tup)
This Mule Ewe is then crossed with what is called a “terminal sire”. Our ladies have been mated with a Texel. A meaty breed originally from Holland that has overtaken our English Suffolk in the popularity stakes.
So its all go in the lambing shed as in February all Ewes in the north of England give birth inside.
The expectant mothers settle into the maternity ward a few weeks before lambing. They are happy and content to eat their protein nuts, nibble some Haylage and generally hang about. Being in constant contact with their shepherd means the ewes are calmer when they lamb. This makes taking a Ewe with her new lambs from the communal maternity ward to a small pen less stressful.
Into a small pen goes the mother and twins. She will be busy licking and mothering her babies which encourages the afterbirth to drop away and the baby lambs to start looking for a teat. The quietness of a small pen allows this to happen with no interruptions and for the ewes mothering instinct to kick in.
Mike (the shepherd !) will dip the lambs navels with iodine and leave well alone for a couple of hours while the lambs drink their first milk , the vital Colostrum. If the lambs haven’t sucked in that time, and if they haven’t passed their first Meconium ( a black faeces) then intervention is needed.
Colostrum is the richness of life itself. The most important part of a lambs first hour of life. With high levels of fat, protein and essential trace elements, Colostrum will ensure the baby lamb will survive the first week of life. No Colostrum means the baby lamb will probably die within a few days from scour and bloat, know as the shepherds worst enemy… Watery Mouth.
Lamb and Ewe Video clip