Here at Green Dragon we have rare breed lambs twice a year. We have our large flocks lambing at spring time, which will usually involve 30 ewes producing 50 plus lambs. We’re expecting lambing to start from 11th March 2018.
We scanned our pregnant sheep on the 21st December last year, so we have an idea of how many lambs to expect even though no 100% accurate. We mark the sheep with a dot per lamb which is vital because it will affect feeding regime.
The primitive breeds, such as the Soay and Portland beeds, have the least problem during lambing as they produce small lambs and are very hardy. It is most common for sheep to have one or two lambs. However, occasionally there are triplets born, one of which is often rejected due to numbers. These few become our ‘orphan lambs’ which are bottlefed, sometimes by visitors during our encounters programmes in the Spring.
We also lamb two of our breeds at Christmas time – the Dorset and Portland breeds. These breeds are able to breed at any time of year. We do this to reduce numbers of lambing sheep during the Spring and because its always nice to have some Christmas lambs.
Many of our rare breed sheep are bred using registered animals to try and ensure we have healthy and pure-bred lambs. This will also help towards increasing the population of rare breed sheep.
- About a week before labour the sheep starts ‘bagging up’ whic means the udder drops as it’s filling up with milk
- Couple of days before labour the teats become swollen and start producing milk
- 24 – 48 hours before labour, examination the sheep externally
- On the day, the sheep separates itself from the group & goes off food.
- It becomes restless & paws the ground often getting into a ‘star-gazing’ position
- Labour could last 48 hrs during which the sheep is usually on its side
- An hour into the final phase of labour, if nothings happened give an internal examination
- Deliver the first lamb then check internally to see position of second lamb
- Reposition if necessary which can mean pushing the lamb back inside