Mid April & into May | Lambing time on the farm
With 1400 breeding ewes lambing from mid April, it’s a busy time. Most ewes manage all on their own but all have to be checked several times daily which in itself is time consuming with the problem ewes and lambs adding into this. Problems range from ewes with birthing difficulties to newborn lambs that haven’t found the milk supply- all needing urgent attention.
Any new born lambs that were a bit slow to get going and sample some of their mother’s first milk or colostrum succumbed to the cold winds and needed a bit of TLC in the shed. When this happens, the ewe and lamb(s) have to be caught in the field or on the hill (mother being more of a problem to catch than the lamb at this stage) and shipped into the sheep shed by Ali on the quad bike. There the lamb is assisted in feeding from its mother (every 4 hours) until sufficiently recovered.
New born lambs have special brown fat which helps them maintain body temperature in combination with their mother’s milk. Sometimes, if the lamb is more than 5 hours old and hasn’t found the milk supply, hypothermia (body temperature below normal) sets in and it needs glucose as well as a spell in the warming box as it is running so low on energy. Without the glucose the lamb would warm up but would not survive as it’s blood sugar level is so low. After this treatment, it will recover quickly and can be tube fed it’s mother’s milk which is full of antibodies to give the immune system a kick start. There is a huge amount of job satisfaction in watching the change from freezing lamb to a frolicking one!
One of our pet lambs, a two year old ewe or gimmer called Brenda lambed for the first time this spring. She is instantly recognisable by her funny stumpy horns and was born but abandoned in a terrible spring blizzard. She is showing great mothering skills considering she has been an orphan from birth.
The farm throughout the year
For more pictures and information about farming life throughout the year see our on your doorstep page for farming & walking in the Pentland Hills.