Thursday, 14 April 2016

Heartache and joy at lambing time

When you have livestock, you will also have dead stock.
Spring and lambing are one of the biggest joys for a shepherd.
However, not everything goes equally smoothly in this time.
There is a very fine line between life and death.
Working in the lambing barn really highlights how fragile life really is.

A few weeks back one of the ewes had the misfortune of running in front of the feed tractor and got partially run over. She has been in the sick pen since then, with us turning her, lifting her up and doctoring her. We saw improvement everyday, and the last week or two she has managed to roll herself over, once helped up she would stand alone and even walk a few steps. We had hope in her recovery. Today, she started to lamb, I checked to see how she was doing and felt inside her. The was a lambing coming however it was totally in the wrong position. What was even more concerning was when I did the pelvic examination, I could feel that her pelvic bones had been broken and had shifted, causing the birth canal to be narrowed to the point that no lamb would ever be able to be born normally. It was decision time, and the options did not look rosy. The choices were to either try to save the lamb or try to save the ewe. Considering that the ewe was dealing with a pelvic fracture the decision was made to try and save the lamb. I phoned my kind neighbor to come and help me. He would shoot the ewe and we would then cut the lamb out of the ewe in an attempt to save the lambs life. You only have a very short amount of time to do this before the lamb will die from a lack of oxygen. The ewe was shot, and withing a minute we had the lamb out of her. He was in shock and was teetering on the brink of life and death.
With some vigorous rubbing, some swing to ensure all fluids are out of the mouth, lungs and nostrils, a dunking in some cold water he took his first breaths. He was transferred to a warming box and we stomach tubed some colostrum into him. While he was warming, another ewe lambed a big single lamb, she has more milk than the single needs so, she was gifted with an additional lamb. At least our little boy now has a mother to raise him. And, so the circle of life and death continues on.

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