Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The lamb who didn't care to live

We've had problems keeping lambs alive sometimes, but it has usually been one of a pair of twins, which the mother sheep would not acknowledge. Once we gave a good friend two lambs which we had been bottle-feeding. Two sheep who'd had twins each refused one of them, but we finally had managed to force each mother  to nurse her “extra” lamb, briefly. They must have the early milk, the colostrum, which contains antibodies for immunity.

Finally we penned them inside the Zámek where they were given bottles by a young couple visiting here. Eight months after we'd given the friend those lambs I saw them one day. They were alive and well, but strangely grown - much smaller than are normal sheep. This winter two sheep had twins, but this did not bother those experienced mothers. One of each set was smaller than the other at birth, but they did nurse and grow.

The problem baby did not seem to have the slightest idea how to nurse; the mother was a first time mother who also didn't know what to do. However our farm manager knew just what to do and, as is her wont, proceeded to do it. She milked the mother sheep, filled bottles, and took the lamb home with her for the weekend! This astonished us.

 Only today I heard from Lída, the lady who runs the store how she also helped with the milking! This actually went on for more then two weeks. Štepánka, our farm manager, sat the mother sheep on her lap.  The sitting position immobilises the sheep. She held the sheep´s four legs in her hands, while the store keeper milked the sheep into a bottle!

 For about a week she did some of this, gradually transferring the lamb to the mother. We were suitably impressed. The next week she trimmed the sheep's wool around her udder, milked her again, and fed the lamb with the bottle right in the barn next to the mother. Now that lamb is out with the other sheep and lambs. You would never know that there had been any problems with it.