Although I’ve spammed you with images already over on Instagram (click here to see them), I thought I’d write a bit about the experience here as well.
This was my first time helping deliver lambs, so I went to the farm with all these misconceptions about what could go wrong. I imagined lambs drowning in amniotic fluid while we were struggling to get them out, and frankly, I was a bit frightened that I’d end up pulling the leg of a lamb if I tugged too hard while the sow was in labor. All these worries went away, however, after several expertly delivered explanations about the delivery process. Here the farmers explained that whether the lamb was facing forward or was in a breech position, the most important thing was straightening out the legs first, and then pulling. Since ewes commonly give birth to two or three lambs per season, you have to make sure the legs you’re pulling actually belong to the same lamb, so you don’t end up trying to deliver two at once.
You’d be hard-pressed to find calmer farmers than the ones we had the pleasure of staying at last weekend. Each of us had the opportunity to try our hand at midwifery, and after a while, we were far more comfortable with reaching around inside the ewes to assess the placement of the lambs.
One thing I thought was especially important to learn the postnatal care needed for the lambs to survive. We had already learned about the value of colostrum and prenatal vaccines administered to ewes for passive immunization of the lambs. However, seeing first-hand the difference a few milliliters of milk had on the growth and vitality of the new-borns, and how rapidly they have to learn how to stand and suckle in order to survive and develop properly was truly astounding.
The weekend went by with few difficult deliveries, and overall it was an incredibly positive learning experience. I’ve added a few more images I took during the weekend below, and as I mentioned before if you want to see an actual delivery, head over to my Instagram @vettobe (link here) and check out the Instastories I’ve saved to my profile.