I feel like an anxious grandmother, waiting for these sheep to give birth. They are all huge, hot and tomorrow is the first ‘due date’ based on when the ram entered the flock. The experienced mum (in the middle) has been acting oddly. She didn’t join the others at the trough for her breakfast nuts and has been standing swaying on her back legs. Either she’s stiff and uncomfortable or she’s been listening at her ante-natal classes and is doing some exercises.
I am checking them regularly and spending the intervening hours checking the internet for ‘signs of labour in ewes’ and ‘twin lamb disease’ as there’s some overlap in the symptoms. The results are equally reassuring and panic-inducing so digging the raised beds is a better way to focus the mind.
It’s definitely easier when you’re the one having the baby – at least as a human you have some control over events, and even if it doesn’t feel that way, there’s usually a trained midwife on hand. These poor ewes have no idea that I’m doing the job based on watching a couple of Youtube videos and reading a smallholding magazine. I’ve not even been on work experience. Luckily I do have the number of a local expert as well as the vet, so if things go badly wrong hopefully I’ll be able to call in the professionals.
Useful signs that labour is imminent (in sheep)
- Doesn’t come to the feed trough for a meal
- Stands away from the rest of the flock
- Udder is swollen, vulva is pink and puffy
Useful signs sheep may have twin lamb disease
- Doesn’t come to feed trough
- Stands or lies away from the rest of the flock
- Dull, depressed demeanour