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 about 30 ewes producing 50 plus lambs. We’re expecting lambing to start from mid-March 2019.
We scanned our pregnant sheep at the end of December last year, so we have an idea of how many lambs to expect even though it’s not 100% accurate. We mark each ewe with a dot per lamb which is vital because it will affect the feeding regime.
The primitive breeds, such as the Soay and Portland beeds, have the least problem lambing as they produce small lambs and are very hardy. It is most common for ewes to have one or two lambs. However, occasionally there are triplets born, one of which is often rejected by the ewe due to numbers. These few become our ‘orphan lambs’ which are bottlefed, sometimes by visitors during our animal encounters programme 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 ewe starts ‘bagging up’ which means the udder drops due to the milk coming in
- 48 hours before labour starts the teats become swollen and start producing milk
- 24 – 48 hours before labour, the ewe is examined externally
- On the day, the ewe separates itself from the group & goes off its 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 nothing has happened, the ewe is given an internal examination
- The first lamb is delivered then the ewe is checked internally for the position of the second lamb
- The second lamb is repositioned if necessary, often by pushing the lamb back inside the ewe.
Expectant mothers should take care when visiting the Farm during lambing season. Please read more here.