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Lambing and kidding 2016

 
R Ranson
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Lambing and kidding time again. What little buns have you got in your ovens this year?

Let's talk about lambing and kidding. What questions do you have? Anyone here new to the experience?

CUTE PHOTOS ARE ENCOURAGED!

We can talk about llamas and alpacas too if you like, but I don't know much about breeding them.



This is the first year I've left the ram in with the girls all year, so I have no idea when the lambs are going to pop out. Usually, I like to keep the ram(s) separate from the girls and let them in for a couple of months. That way, I have a very precise date of when to expect lambs. I can give the girls their shots (if they need them) based on when they are expecting. Certain meds can't be given too early or too late in the pregnancy. For the most part though, I like to practice preventative care and only use drugs when other methods are insufficient.

This year, I'm really nervous not knowing when the lambs will pop out. The first heat I noticed was on Sep 1st, which would give me the earliest lambing date of Jan 16th, but more likely at the end of Jan. I used this lambing/kidding calculator

Yet, the last few days, I have had one ewe a bit distant from the others. She's trying to get her humans to understand something, but I can't figure out what. Long tail so I haven't been able to see if she's oozing guck (they do that prior to birthing sometimes). This morning she asked for more carb care (we give it for extra Selenium, as it reduces prolapse and mastitis), but shows no interest in hay or sheep text. Her back sagged a few days ago, which is a sign she's getting close. Also, her face is looking a bit puffy - which it didn't last year when she was pregnant. She's 3+ years old, and it's her second year making lambs. She's a Black Welsh Mountain. Her name is Marry.

Any thoughts about how close Marry is? I tend to worry over nothing when it comes to sheep, so it's probably just getting close to her pop-out-lamb-day. Then again, it is a dangerous time for sheep... I might catch her and give her a closer look for parasites and vaginal exam (yes, it is as gross as it sounds).
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Marry and her little ramlamb from 2015
 
R Ranson
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I just got in from giving Marry a hug and an examination.

It looks like it won't be long before we see our first lambs of 2016.

Her lamb-hole is larger than normal. Although her milk-bags haven't filled out yet, there is a waxy goo that comes out when squeezed... this is called the milk plug, I think. Her milk-bags didn't fill out until after her lambing last year, so I'm not too worried about it. Her gums and under-eyes are a bit paler than I like, which is often a sign of parasites or other physical stress. I haven't done it myself, but I imagine making babies is pretty taxing, so that could explain the pallor. No other problems visible like painful feet or joints, no need for a pedicure. Mary is alert but a bit more calm than normal. Usually she doesn't let me touch her, but today she did everything I asked... she even went into the jug without me having to wrestle her. I didn't even have to turn her upside to look at her feet. For a major Skiddle Bug Sheep, she's remarkably calm today.

Her only complaint was that my hands were too cold for examining her milk bags. She's right.

My plan of action is to watch and wait. If she shows signs of doing poorly, I'll give her some B-12 vitamin shot and call the vet for advice. It's tempting to give a wormer but the only one I have on hand can be damaging to the fetus, so I'll wait on that.

My guess is that the lamb will probably come within the next 10 days. What do you think? Any guesses on how close she is?

I can't wait to share the photos.


Any questions about lambing, just ask. I'm only on my third year, but I bet there are more experienced people lurking around the forum just waiting for a chance to help.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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It's very unusual for them not to bag up at least a week before lambing, particularly in ewes who have lambed before.

We are expecting goat kids around the end of February and our lambs are due at the end of April. I prefer to lamb later when the weather is slightly less inclement and there is some grass growth for turn out. I usually do the same with the goats but I had a buyer for my billy so covering took place earlier than usual.

I prefer to know when lambs are due as I give my ewes supplementary feed in the 6 weeks prior to lambing to reduce the risk of pregnancy toxaemia. They also get extra ACV in this period to help reduce lambing difficulties.
 
Kelly Smith
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we have 8 Katahdin and 7 Royal White ewes that have been with a Katahdin ram since about labor day - we dont keep our ram separate, we just got him then

we arent exactly sure when he did his job, so we arent exactly sure when lambs will be here. we are thinking sometime in Feb. (we will be out of town in late Feb, so likely then)

the sheep we got are supposed to be easy lambing and good mothers, so we arent really planning on helping much.


i would be interested in what items i should have around in case of emergencies?
 
Katy Whitby-last
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Kelly, I have a wee lambing box that stays nearby when lambs are due and it has the following things in it:

phone number of my very knowledgeable neighbour and the vet
obstetric lubricant in case I need to assist a birth (I also have a wee bottle of antiseptic hand wash so I can clean my hands first without having to run back to the house)
injectable calcium (Calciject in the UK) plus appropriate sized needles and syringes in case of hypocalcaemia (I had my first ever case last year and was glad I had it to hand)
twin lamb drench in case of pregnancy toxaemia
Iodine for dipping navels
rubber rings and applicator for castrating males
powdered colostrum, syringe and tube in case I need to tube feed a sickly lamb (only use this if you have been shown how otherwise you can put the liquid into the lungs)
dental floss for tying off an umbilical cord that hasn't closed off and is still bleeding ( this can sometimes happen if they are born fast)
a copy of "A Manual of Lambing Techniques" by Winter & Hill

Many of these things you won't use but are important to have on hand because if you do need them you need them at that moment not when you've had a chance to get them from somewhere.

One thing to watch out for with easy lambers is the second twin. Often they come out so fast they are still in the membranes and if mum is busy with the first born she doesn't get the membranes off in time and they can suffocate. In that situation I always pull the membranes off myself as soon as they are out and clear the nose then leave mum to do the rest.

I rarely have to intervene with my girls but I like to be prepared and keep a close eye on them so that I can step in and help if needed.
 
R Ranson
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Katy, great replies. Thank you. Love the supply list. The phone numbers are essential.

Another thing I keep on hand is molasis for the mums. After birthing, they really like warm water and molasses. It seems to help them recover quicker.


I'm a bit worried too. I never know if it's time to get the cigars ready (to celebrate the new lambs) or if something else is bothering the ewe. I think I need to review our nutrition as the hay might be a bit rich.

For here, I like the early lambing. Our grass stops growing in may, so there isn't much for the late lambs to eat. Also the January lambs/kids put on weight much faster and with less feed than the later ones. It is probably just a local phenomena because of our weather. The thing I don't like with this time of year is going out in my PJs in the rain at night to check on them.


What other books or resource on lambing do you like? I've been pretty impressed with Storey's Barn Guide to Sheep for it's fast and easy reference manual. The pictures of the lambs inside the womb and how to best get them out when stuck, has been really useful.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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The other sheep specific book to help with lambing that I really like is:

Tyne "the Sheep Book for Smallholders" I like this because it has chapters on specific times of the year and the particular issues that may present at those times, so it covers the pre and post lambing period as well.


For goats, the book I would recommend is:

John Matthews "Diseases of the Goat" I don't know about elsewhere but in the UK most vets know very little about goats as they are barely covered in the syllabus for a veterinary degree. there are no pictures as it is geared towards vets themselves but I find it handy to lend to my vet



 
Kelly Smith
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Katy Whitby-last wrote:Kelly, I have a wee lambing box that stays nearby when lambs are due and it has the following things in it:

phone number of my very knowledgeable neighbour and the vet
obstetric lubricant in case I need to assist a birth (I also have a wee bottle of antiseptic hand wash so I can clean my hands first without having to run back to the house)
injectable calcium (Calciject in the UK) plus appropriate sized needles and syringes in case of hypocalcaemia (I had my first ever case last year and was glad I had it to hand)
twin lamb drench in case of pregnancy toxaemia
Iodine for dipping navels
rubber rings and applicator for castrating males
powdered colostrum, syringe and tube in case I need to tube feed a sickly lamb (only use this if you have been shown how otherwise you can put the liquid into the lungs)
dental floss for tying off an umbilical cord that hasn't closed off and is still bleeding ( this can sometimes happen if they are born fast)
a copy of "A Manual of Lambing Techniques" by Winter & Hill

Many of these things you won't use but are important to have on hand because if you do need them you need them at that moment not when you've had a chance to get them from somewhere.

One thing to watch out for with easy lambers is the second twin. Often they come out so fast they are still in the membranes and if mum is busy with the first born she doesn't get the membranes off in time and they can suffocate. In that situation I always pull the membranes off myself as soon as they are out and clear the nose then leave mum to do the rest.

I rarely have to intervene with my girls but I like to be prepared and keep a close eye on them so that I can step in and help if needed.


thank you for your reply.
a lot of that stuff i have on hand already because our main animal is a dairy cow - luckily a lot of stuff crosses over.

now i can see why people plan a certain time of year to lamb at - instead of allowing it to happen naturally. that said, we really dont have the time to intervene in a lot of births. i guess i will do what i can and keep the hardy ewes around.
 
Kelly Smith
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R Ranson wrote:Katy, great replies. Thank you. Love the supply list. The phone numbers are essential.

Another thing I keep on hand is molasis for the mums. After birthing, they really like warm water and molasses. It seems to help them recover quicker.


I'm a bit worried too. I never know if it's time to get the cigars ready (to celebrate the new lambs) or if something else is bothering the ewe. I think I need to review our nutrition as the hay might be a bit rich.

For here, I like the early lambing. Our grass stops growing in may, so there isn't much for the late lambs to eat. Also the January lambs/kids put on weight much faster and with less feed than the later ones. It is probably just a local phenomena because of our weather. The thing I don't like with this time of year is going out in my PJs in the rain at night to check on them.


What other books or resource on lambing do you like? I've been pretty impressed with Storey's Barn Guide to Sheep for it's fast and easy reference manual. The pictures of the lambs inside the womb and how to best get them out when stuck, has been really useful.


we usually give our dairy cows a molasses/epsom salt mixture right after they calf. im interested to know what mixture you give them.

your 2nd point is something that i am concerned about.
our main animal is a dairy cow, so we must meet her nutritional needs - generally speaking, the sheep gets whats left over. that said, what is left over is still pretty rich. our pastures are ~75% alfalfa currently - but we are trying to nudge them torwards more grasses/forbs. what, if anything can be done to reduce their intake, without limiting nutrition?
FWIW _ we produce all our own hay, so buying low quality hay isnt an option.

thanks in advance.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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How is Marry doing today? If she is still off her hay I would give a twin lamb drench as it could well be pregnancy toxaemia.
 
R Ranson
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Katy Whitby-last wrote:How is Marry doing today? If she is still off her hay I would give a twin lamb drench as it could well be pregnancy toxaemia.


She started munching hay again yesterday afternoon after I had another talk with her. She isn't eating as much as normal, or as often, but she is still eating and drinking and showing enthusiasm for her grain ration.

She seems to be trying to tell her humans something, only her stupid humans don't understand. She likes that we are listening to her, but is frustrated we don't understand sheep-speak properly.
 
Katy Whitby-last
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If she is close to lambing (ie in the last month of gestation) she won't eat as much roughage as the lambs are taking up so much space that she can't fill her rumen adequately. If she is eating grain that is great and will give her the calories she requires. You can always offer some molasses on her grain to give her an extra boost.
 
R Scott
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We keep the rams in all year, they help protect the herd from predators. Downside is lambing in the cold sometimes. But we usually have better luck lambing in cold dry January than cool wet March. We started lambing on the second.
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R Ranson
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R Scott wrote:We keep the rams in all year, they help protect the herd from predators. Downside is lambing in the cold sometimes. But we usually have better luck lambing in cold dry January than cool wet March. We started lambing on the second.


Love the photo. What kind of sheep are they?
 
R Scott
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Mongrels. they are katahdin, black belly, st Croix cross hair sheep.

One other bonus of them lambing in late winter is I can get close to them. They will not come to feed if there is anything growing, only while I am haying. Otherwise I have to inspect them with binoculars. I have a few extra rams because of that...
 
Andrew Schreiber
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Howdy all,

We keep both sheep and goats, and I've personally been through 7 birthing seasons. We're running Nubian and Kiko (meat breed from New Zealand) with interbreeding being done to see if we can make the Nubians more hardy, (thicker hair, bigger bodies, better mothering, etc).

We're in a very cold and snowy climate, which inhibits how low we can have animals out grazing. We aim to Kid in the first half of April (breeding begins on Halloween) so that the mothers in their late gestation have at least some access to green forage in march when they need to most high-density forage.

We usually lamb a month before that, as the sheep are significantly hardier. We want to the lambs to be on the ground, eating green forage, as soon the weather provides. Which is usually in March. Our sheep are a mix of rambouillet and polypay. good western range sheep with a fine to medium-fine wool.
 
R Ranson
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No lambs yet, but she is doing her prenatal stretching. She's this big and she hasn't popped out her lambs, makes me think it's twins. It's so fun guessing.
 
R Ranson
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Gave all the girls a check up yesterday. Marry is about the same, but her twin Minnie (I didn't name them, that's how they came) had sizeable milk bags. Tonight, she's walking a bit odd, like her bum is uncomfortable, and her milk bags have tripled in size since yesterday. I had a look to make certain the limp wasn't a leg or foot issue. A bit of white goo coming out her lamb hole. Going at the hay with full force, which is unusual for her.

Now... trying to remember how long it is from white goo to lamb. I think milk production can happen as early as 2 weeks prior to popping out a lamb... but white goo...? Last year I think it was within the next 6 days.

I'm a bit worried about Minnie, her lamb last year was very difficult. She was in and out of labour for almost two days before she got down to it and her 'water' broke. It took 6 hours to get the lamb out of her. Normal presentation, but her lamb hole wouldn't get big enough. Of course, the vet wasn't available. After the first hour, I tried to help. Lubing her up and pulling with all my might. after 5 hours of this, I just sat down and talked with her. I told her, this thing is got to come out of you, there's no other choice. We gave it one more go before I was going to have to try something so horrible I'm not going to say it here, to save her life. But instead, we got the lamb out. Rubbed it a bit, and somehow it was still alive. Hoping for an easier time this year.
 
Jacque Ence
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This was our first birth of anything aside from our own children. I had no idea what I was doing. We noticed one of my grandmother's pet goats (we bought grandma's farm, but kept her here. That means we're taking care of her pets as well) was going into labor. I had been told by people with tons more experience than me that she wasn't due for a month. Still, no mistaking it, she was definitely in labor. The goat "Angel" hadn't settled down yet, and these were her first babies so I just assumed it would take her some time. We went in the house and started researching. About 11pm we went back out to check on her, and we discovered she was presenting with a tail. I had just researched abnormal kidding positions and what to do. Crash course! I had to reach in and discovered she was having 2 at once, and one was breech. I had to push them both back in, and pull out the breech baby's legs one at a time. We lost the little breech baby, but she gave birth to two healthy bucklings after that without further complications. I got a crash course in banding them this week too. What a week.
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Katy Whitby-last
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R Ransom. If it was her cervix failing to dilate that is likely to be a case of ring womb and I wouldn't breed from her again. If it happens again this time you will need to manually dilate the cervix with your fingers. I would suggest asking your vet to show you how to do it so that you are prepared. Good luck
 
Kris schulenburg
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When normally presenting lambs are "stuck" I have had good luck with pulling one front leg out and then the other. Seems to loosen them up from "elbow lock". Good luck everyone it is an exciting time of year.
 
Kelly Smith
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We have started our lambing season.
2 ewes, 2 twins so far.




2 down, 12 more to go. hoping for a 200% lamb crop this year

hopefully you can see the pics
 
Travis Johnson
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We winter lamb for the market, and thus are almost done lambing. Mortality was really down this year for awhile, but ticked up some in the last week or two due to a couple of late deaths. Twin percentage was really high compared to last year too, with most having robust weight gains. Our biggest lamb so far was a nice 16-1/2 pounder. We had bigger, a 17 pounder, but that was a single and not a twin. (second picture). We want ewe-lambs primarily because we are continuing to grow our flock, and for awhile we were pushing ewe-lambs at 70%, but of late it has dropped back to an almost even split of 50%. Not what we want, but better for the profit column at years end. Only one bottle fed lamb all lambing season too, so overall we are pretty happy the way 2016 Lambing Season shaped up.

Naturally we hope 2017 is better!

Here are a few pictures of some of the ones we had "in the house" which naturally is Shepard speak for a sick sheep.



 
Kelly Smith
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@ Travis - how many sheep do you have?


he had another set of twins
our best ewe - she was EXTRA wide. i even got a video of the 2nd birth.

 
Kelly Smith
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more lambs!






 
Kelly Smith
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Kelly Smith wrote: we really dont have the time to intervene in a lot of births. i guess i will do what i can and keep the hardy ewes around.


so far, with our katahdins, we have had 12 lambs our of 6 ewes. i have only had to help with 2 different ewes (1 was by choice). both times i helped get the first ones head out and they did the rest.
we have 6 more Royal White sheep to lamb. we are expecting 1 prolaspe and we can see one bulging when she lays down. hope all goes well with her.

i think next year i will try to limit their feed over winter. currently they get the same hay we feed our dairy cow - so we may have grown babies that were a bit big this year....


anyway - here is our last katahdin to lamb. a single, large, ram.
 
Jennifer Green
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Our first lamb of the season. Out of an Easy Friesen ewe named Leah. A little ewe lamb the kids named Luna. Momma is on the milking stand now and doing a,great job.
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Kelly Smith
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we had 2 more singles born yesterday! born within 35 mins of each other!

these are Royal white sheep (the ewe on the right is a RW / Dorper cross.

 
Kelly Smith
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more lambs!







and so far, my wifes favorite:


 
Mary-Ellen Zands
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Just pulled an all nighter with Caramel. Our oldest Nubian. She will be retired after she raises these two. She has always given triplets the same colouring as her, for the fist time she gave us twins!
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1st kid of April 2016
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Kris schulenburg
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Our lambs are here. The first one was breach. I let things go on longer than I should have. One ewe lamb survived and is doing great. Two ram lambs did not. Am thankful I could get him turned And out. Moms is doing well. The others were normal but big.
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Brian Cantley
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Jacque Ence wrote: I got a crash course in banding them this week too. What a week.


Howdy, well done on taking good care of your friendly animals. I have a goat(and 1 cow) dairy here in southern oregon. My comment is on banding. Haven't done it but have run into older wethers that have been banded and developed urinary trouble. We use a tool called a berdizzo. It's a plier type tool that crushes the feeder tube to the testicles on boys. It's done later in the maturation of the animal than banding and from what I understand gives the animal more time to develop their urinary system before the stress of castration. There is no breaking of the skin using this tool and the boy retains its scrotum, it's just the testicles that slowly dissolve. Always good to check them later on to see if the testicles have dissolved properly. You may decide to continue banding but it's always a good thing to be aware of your options.

Brian in southern oregon

PS. As a joke, showing a guy a berdizzo and explaining its use is a good way to keep him in line
 
Saskia Symens
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I was/am totally new to kidding... Our dwarf nanny gave birth this afternoon to a cute little kid baptised Brownie by my sons. I was quite worried during the whole process and had the vet on the phone three times to make sure everything was proceeding as normal. Everything went well. They're secure for the night, and I can relax now...
I do have a question for the community, though: I'm wondering if it's possible there's a second bun in the oven. How can I be sure? There were no more contractions after the delivery of the afterbirth, but her belly still seems fairly big. How far can two kids be apart?
Thanks everyone!
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Kelly Smith
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i dont know about goat, my experience is mainly with sheep -

we normally are expecting to see the 2nd lamb within 45-60mins, 90mins max.
if the afterbirth has passed, imo, she is likely done.

we had 1 ewe that still looked pregnant even after a month+ of nursing her twins. imo, that is a good thing. a goat/sheep that can hold her body condition through kidding is a keeper in my book
 
Brian Cantley
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Location: Sprague River, Oregon
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Saskia Symens wrote:I was/am totally new to kidding... Our dwarf nanny gave birth this afternoon to a cute little kid baptised Brownie by my sons. I was quite worried during the whole process and had the vet on the phone three times to make sure everything was proceeding as normal. Everything went well. They're secure for the night, and I can relax now...
I do have a question for the community, though: I'm wondering if it's possible there's a second bun in the oven. How can I be sure? There were no more contractions after the delivery of the afterbirth, but her belly still seems fairly big. How far can two kids be apart?
Thanks everyone!


What Kelly Smith said. We also stop worrying once the afterbirth arrives. Sometimes the new mother will eat the afterbirth, sometimes it takes quite a while for the afterbirth to finally come out once the long string of it appears. Don't try hurrying it along. And if you just can't resist only do minimal actions as it's a bit dangerous to the new mothers. Never had to do anything myself but the only thing that's safe enough is to tie a very small stone to the afterbirth to add just a bit extra weight.

For checking to see if there are additional kids inside there is a technique where you bounce the belly of the goat. I had never been able to figure this out until recently. You can actually feel a leg or other pointy kid part in the belly of the mamma goat when you bounce her belly(the part of the belly toward the back end) gently.

Sometimes when the baby comes out it'll have been in there a while and will get fluid in it's breathing passage. Don't be shy, hold the kid firmly with it's head hanging down and swing it hard(without hitting it into anything). You're creating downward force to help the fluid out. And/Or put your mouth on it's mouth and nose and suck out the fluid. It's not that bad and can save the kids life. You can also rub the kid vigorously with a towel to get it to struggle more for breath. Momma goat will be trying to lick it which is totally natural.

Good job by your momma goat! Welcome Brownie.

PS. Birth is hard on the momma - mix up some human molasses and warm water and put in a pail for her to drink if she chooses. I say human molasses because the molasses at the feed store isn't really molasses. It's a chemical cocktail that includes some molasses.

 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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Unless there is another in the second horn of the uterus, which is very rare, the passing of the afterbirth indicates that you are all done. Well done and enjoy your lovely new addition
 
Kate Barnwell
Posts: 27
Location: Sunny SC, zone 8
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I had a few Katahdin/East Friesian lambs born about a month ago. Such cuties! They sure are fun. I'd post pictures if I could figure out how.
Cloud 9- what beautifully colored sheep you have! I'm jealous! Flashiest lamb I got this year was a brown and white with black polka dots. All the rest were solid white.

 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Kate Barnwell wrote:I had a few Katahdin/East Friesian lambs born about a month ago. Such cuties! They sure are fun. I'd post pictures if I could figure out how.
Cloud 9- what beautifully colored sheep you have! I'm jealous! Flashiest lamb I got this year was a brown and white with black polka dots. All the rest were solid white.



when you are replying to a post, there is an "attachment" tab that will allow you to upload a pic from your PC. If for some reason you cant see it, or it doesnt work, let me know and i can help more.

the east friesian sheep are milk sheep, right? i have recently discovered some folks working on a shedding dairy sheep project. looks like they are crossing high production katahdins and friesians in hopes of making a good milk sheep that needs no shearing.

its funny because some of our flashiest lambs cam from all white, royal white mommas. its also funny to see mainly white lambs come from a brown momma!
we toyed with the idea of raising 'mini holestien' lambs, but figured the novelty might wear off to fast....
 
Kate Barnwell
Posts: 27
Location: Sunny SC, zone 8
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Yep, that is my goal too. I started with a flock of all around really tough Katahdins (parasite/disease resistant, great mothers, great lambers, etc.) and bred them to a nice East Friesian last year (who was from great milking lines, but EF are not a "tough" breed by any standard- they have to be wormed, sheared, etc.) to try to get both bigger frames and more milkiness, while retaining the good aspects of the Katahdins.
This year I got 6 lambs- 2 of which have hair coats, 3 have wool coats and one has what looks like a dorper coat (her mom has some dorper in her). Time will tell which are parasite resistant, but I've got high hopes for the ram lamb that has hair. He's out of my best ewe and was a triplet.

Thanks for the help on pictures Kelly! Here are the triplets after they were born (Mr. hair coat is in the back) They are over a month old now, I need to go take a better picture...
And the second picture is my only lamb with color, Miss June. On the other side of her are her two black polka dots, about the size of a silver dollar.
Yes, sheep color genetics are so strange-- June's mother is solid white with some tiny black dots on her ears, and daddy was solid white... and she's brown and white! Meanwhile my solid brown ewe has only EVER had solid white lambs. Never any brown on them.
Kelly, If I could figure out how to get a sheep from Colorado to South Carolina I'd buy one of your flashy ones!
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Triplets
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June
 
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