I woke up a 3:30 this morning. I think I was having a bad dream that woke me. My immediate intuition was to check the lamb-cam, just to be sure all was well. I scanned the barn and saw a weird black smudge on the hay. Blearily, I realized that the immobile black form on the camera had to be a lamb, so I threw on some clothes and went out.
It was a lamb! Dalek had birthed a single ram and cleaned him off completely, but all was not right. The lamb wouldn’t stand up and seemed to lack control of his limbs. Dalek had no milk to speak of, and to make matters more complicated, Ohio-65, a Border Leicester ewe, was also beginning labor and was CERTAIN the lamb was hers.
I penned Dalek and brought the lamb inside for warming and evaluation. He just flopped on the floor- he had poor control of his front legs and no control of his hind legs. We got him some colostrum-replacer, and I snoozed while he slept. I woke up and checked Ohio-65. She had a ewe out and was licking her with gusto. Good.
Eventually, Ohio-65 had a ewe and ram. Though she is not an experienced mother, she knew what to do and her babies were up and at-’em.
But Dalek’s little ram showed few signs of improvement through the morning. He and I snoozed until 7:30, when friends of mine visiting from Massachusetts came downstairs to see what the commotion was. I think I was sleeping face down on the floor in front of the stove, with the lamb curled beside me at that point. When I explained the lamb’s condition to Dani and Sarah, they started working to help him learn to stand and walk. The lamb made rapid progress – with assistance, he began to stand stable-ly and then figured out a tentative walk. He also figured out how to sit up a bit without assistance, so he wouldn’t just lie on his side.
It is hard to make a call about trying to save a lamb in the condition that this young ram. Lambs are always cute and it’s easy to go to extreme measures. We’ve agreed that we will continue to help him along provided he is making progress, and provided he is in a state where he can survive. Currently, we are worried that if he fell on his back, he would be unable to roll over and could be asphyxiate on his rumen. As of now, he is developing the ability to right himself and to stand up from a lying down position. So we will see how things go with our little lamb.