Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Alendil's surprise

This morning, Tim and I awoke to a surprise from Alendil.  She was due to birth anytime after tomorrow, but decided that this chilly 30 degree morning was perfect for lambing.  Tim hadn't realized that she had lambed until he was almost finished with the morning chores in the sheep pen.  He then spied Alendil in the llama pen with a lamb.

The surprising thing was that the baby is black.  Since she was bred to a brown based sheep, this helps us to identify the gene that she is hiding under her white and also lets us know what gene her mom is hiding. I'd since discovered that her mom had a brown gene, and now we know that she's got a black gene as well.

Luckily, another girl, which means we're now at 10 lambs with an even split of boys to girls.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Viveka's lambing

Friday, April 25th was the date that Viveka decided to start lambing.  It was early afternoon when she finally got down to active labor.  First thing that happened was the bag broke with lots of fluid.  I'd never saw that much fluid come out prior to a lamb being born.  After about a half hour of active pushing, nothing was proceeding, so I applied some super lube to my hand and reached in to see what was happening.  I could feel the head and from the feel of it, the baby was completely upside down as the throat was up and I could feel the ears below.  I searched around for a leg and found one, pulling it forward.  I then searched for the second front leg and couldn't find it, so I went back to the first front leg.  Unfortunately, it had reverted back to where it was when I found it.  I attempted to turn the baby's head around so that the presentation was a bit more normal and searched for that leg again.  At this point the head was in the pubic region, so I did what I could to get the head to pass beyond her hips.  Finally, the head was presenting and I kept reaching in to find the front legs.  Still no luck keeping the front leg forward, so I began putting steady pressure on her head.  During this time, I had called to speak to one of our vets and was waiting for a call back, since this would be my first solo assisting of a birth.  I was able to get the head out and kept pressure on the head until a good portion of the lambs neck was out.  I tried again to get that front leg out and was able to get it out, but it hooked around her vaginal opening weirdly.  With steady pressure on the head and one front leg, I was finally able to get the shoulder area to pass and finally the rest of the baby passed as well.  I brought the baby to Viv to get it cleaned up and remarked to myself that the baby had some good horn buds ... typical.  Last time she bred she ended up giving us boys and the first was full on butt breach!  The lamb's front legs looked a bit weird and I tried straightening them with no luck.  Here's a shot of what they looked like, hopefully you can see that they're tucked in a C shape.

Soon after the lamb was fully birthed, I got the call back from my vet.  I told her about how the baby presented weirdly, but I was able to get it out, but that the front legs looked kind of weird.  She said that it could be that they were just a bit stiff from being in one position for a while (similar to my ram lamb from the first birthing that had a loose hip joint).   She also suggested that it could be a disease known as arthrogryposis, but that she wasn't willing to say that was what it was without seeing the lamb first.  She suggested I continue to try to straighten the legs and get the twin out and if the legs wouldn't straighten, then I'd need to bring the lamb into the clinic for a looking over.  If it was the disease, then the lamb would need to be put down as there is no fix for this disease and the lamb wouldn't be able to walk.  I went back to mom and baby and found that the baby had passed away while I was on the phone with the vet.  

Next thing to worry about was the second lamb.  I waited for her to get back down to brass tacks and luckily for me the second presented well and came out fine with virtually no assistance from me (front legs not full on superman, so I gave them a tug and they popped into full superman mode).  
Another boy.

Once the second lamb was out, I contacted the vet and told her that the first lamb had passed and I wanted them to look at his front legs, so I drove over to their clinic.  Unfortuantely for us, the diagnosis was that the lamb had arthrogryposis.  

"Arthrogryposis, congenital fixation of multiple joints, has been reported to result from infectious, toxic and genetic causes.  Affected animals have severely flexed forelimbs and overextended hind limbs.  A spiral deviation of the spine also is evident"  According to the book "Sheep & Goat Medicine" by D.G. Pugh and N. Baird.  My vet also mentioned that sometimes the jaw is affected (in this case the fore and hind limbs were affected, but not the spine or jaw).  

The vet suggested that I could have the lamb sent off and be tested, but I wanted Tim to see what the lamb looked like so she suggested we place the lamb in a garbage bag and place it in our freezer.  This will help us in two points: 1) By keeping the body we're less likely for it to happen again (you know Murphy's Law and all) and 2) if it does happen again this year, we still have the body for sampling purposes.  When Tim got home, I showed him the lamb who passed and his first thought was that it was a black based katmoget.  I hadn't really looked at the coloration of the lamb as I was so focused on not losing the mother and getting the lamb out that it hadn't occurred to me that he was a katmoget.  This loss is sad for a few reasons.  We do not plan on breeding Viveka again as she has turned 10 years old and since we've not kept a katmoget from any of her or her sisters breedings, we have not retained the pattern.  If we want another kat, we'll have to purchase one.  Secondly, of all the breedings, this is the first time we've got a black based katmoget only for it to not survive due to problems.

It's at these times that I have to look at the big picture.  Viveka is alive due to my intervention and she still has a lamb to take care of since the second is perfectly healthy and gaining weight.  Add to that the knowledge that I've gained with assisting a birth and this new to me disease and I feel better armed to handle another birthing issue (even if I'm hoping I never have another problem again!)

Waiting for the next sheep to lamb.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

End of Finn Babies for this year

Sunday, April 13th at oh my gosh it's early (read 30 minutes after midnight) was when Rachel started her lambing.  Luckily for us, Tim was out feeding Ebby her bottle when he heard a baby crying and the sound wasn't coming from the lambing jugs or the "baby and me" pen.  He stopped feeding to glance over and see Rachel mostly inside the sliding door of the llama annex with a newly birthed baby.  He gently nudged her all the way inside and closed the door behind him.  No Shetlands are going to steal these last Finns if he has anything to do with it!  He then came back in the house to give me a holler and went back out to finish bottle feeding Ebby.

The first baby was a mostly white little guy with brown markings.  He was pretty big looking and when we weighed him, we found out that he was 7 lbs (that's about the weight of Ebby now at one week old!)

The next baby presented normally for all intents and purposes, but for her front legs weren't fully stretched out in the "full Superman" position that I'm most comfortable with.  I could reach in and feel the right leg bent back just a bit and wiggled it forward.  Then momma gave another great push and out came this beauty.  A girl, with amazingly beautiful markings.  Mostly black with a white head, panda bear eyes, black around her lips (like she was painted by a clown and black tips on her ears.  She also has a black spot on the top of her head, a white spot on her side (which you can see in the picture) as well as stripes of white on the bottom of her legs.  This picture just doesn't do her justice. She weighed in at 6 lbs.

Tim was pooped, so he went to bed and I stayed out for another hour waiting to see if she'd give us triplets.  No more babies came along, and truthfully, I was only expecting twins, but keep in mind I wasn't expecting quads from Love either!

They were moved to a lambing jug and are doing exceptionally well.

And so passes the end of the birthing of Finn babies for the year.  May the Shetlands be ever so fruitful and ever so kind in doling them out so evenly spaced as the Finns did, where there was only once when we needed two lambing jugs erected (only because Helle stole one of Love's lambs).

My best guess is that Viveka will pop next.  What do you think??

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lumi's Lambs and Chicks = Busy Day

On Thursday, April 10th Lumi shared with us the question of how many lambs she was carrying in her 54 inch circumference body.  Here's the shot of what she looked like prior to lambing.

Her first lamb came breech as I saw a hoof and a tail.  By the time I came back from the house with some lube to see which foot was showing, she had already birthed the first lamb.  A cute little ram.

Second lamb came an hour later with a proper presentation and turned out to be a cute little ewe.

Third lamb came about 10 minutes later ... another girl.  I waited a few hours later before I realized that she didn't have any more lambs in her.  Three babies for that large a body.  What a crazy thing.

That same morning, I found out that our chicks we ordered from the feed store were ready to be picked up.  I let Tim know and on his way home from work he brought these cuties along.  My friend, Susie, was here to see the lambs and saw Tim bringing home chicks.  Her comment was priceless saying that some husbands bring home flowers or chocolates but she liked that Tim brought home baby chicks.  We got 18 Black Australorps.  Here they are in their new brooding area, yes it's a kiddie pool with window screening binder clipped to the pool.

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Lambs of 2014

Sunday, April 6th was quite the busy day.  Love Potion #9, one of our Finns, decided it was time to give birth.  This is what she looked like before she gave birth.
She didn't look overly large, so didn't bother measuring her like we did with Lumi and Viveka.

She lambed her babies all on her own and so at 7:25ish in the morning, when Tim went out to do morning chores, he was alerted to that fact by Jack, our Border Collie, who sniffed in the air and immediately ran to the sheep pen.  Sure enough, there she was a few feet in where Tim couldn't see what Jack sniffed from the front steps.  She had two ram lambs with her and a stillborn ewe.

 He immediately called for me and I went in to see if anyone else had lambed.  As soon as I walked into the barn I saw Helle with a black ewe lamb (she wasn't pregnant), so I did a double-take and went to see if anyone else had given birth earlier in the morning.
Nobody else had lambed so it was obvious that this additional lamb belonged to Love as well.  That made a total of 4 lambs in a not so overly large body.  Unfortunately, since Helle stole the black ewe lamb, Love wouldn't accept her back.  Since Helle isn't pregnant or even lactating, I've got my first bottle baby.  I've nicknamed her Ebony and call her "Ebby" for short.  She readily accepts the bottle and is a voracious eater.

We are now very nervously awaiting how many reside in this 54 inch diameter body!  Update:  Since I was having trouble posting this until now, please note that there will be another blog post as Lumi has lambed her babies on Thursday, April 10th.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


These are shots of "Peanut" my moorit gulmoget blettet lamb born this year.

Here you can see some shots of her with her mother, Astrid, another moorit gulmoget.