Saturday, March 6, 2010

Maternity Ward

Construction has been progressing on the barn improvement project. We've increased the area to shelter animals and machinery by 50% and improved the functionality. The extra space has really aided us in sheltering and caring for our girls and their babies. Here's how we've used the space this lambing season:
When a ewe is within a few days of her due date, we bring her into the birthing area. The birthing area consists of one large room with five small pens around the perimeter. The ewe will typically deliver her lambs in the large open area; the open area gives her room to move about and not feel crowded while in labor.

Bluebell in a jug

After the lambs are born, the ewe will clean off the lambs and encourage them to nurse. The shepherds typically stand by to assist, if needed. After the lambs have their first little drink, the shepherds will weigh each lamb and sterilize the navel area with an iodine solution. The ewe and her lambs are then moved into one of the small pens where she and her lambs complete the bonding process. The small pens are called a "jug". The jug is equipped with clean straw, fresh water, and a heat lamp during cold weather. The jug becomes the private room for each mommy and her lambs.

After one to two days of being in a jug, the ewe is moved into a larger pen we call "the preschool". In the preschool, the ewe and her lambs join a few other new mamas and lambs. The lambs in this pen make friends with other lambs while learning to find mama in the small crowd.

When the lambs are up and going strong, we move mama and babies to our "playpen". The playpen is the largest pen where all ewes with older lambs are living.The ewes and lambs spend a couple weeks in the playpen getting used to flock life. The lambs have room to run, jump, and enjoy the fun of their new playmates. The playpen is the final step before the ewe and her lambs rejoin the flock.

The mamas in the "playpen" enjoy a meal of grain.

On warmer, sunshiny days, the mamas and babies leave the playpen and venture out to our pasture. Here the lambs run and jump around or take a nap while mom looks for a bite to eat!

1 comment:

lmtc55 said...

You have made my day with these incredible pictures! I smile and laugh and say "Aahhhh" with each new photo and caption. It is so appreciated by your admirers’ to take the time to add to the blog at the same time you're overseeing the mammas & babies.
A HUGE Thank you! Lisa