How to tell when a ewe will lamb

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by shimmergirl, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. shimmergirl

    shimmergirl Junior Member

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    I am new to sheep breeding and I have Suffolk, last time one of my ewes lambed I had I only just noticed she was pregnant and then next week there was a lamb.

    Anyhooo my ewe is obviously fatter than the other one and her udder is now pretty full, not much different from the other one was when she lambed, although she is still hanging in her flock were as I recall the other one going her separate way.

    Picking when a horse will foal is easy, is there an easy way of seeing these signs for when a ewe will lamb ?
     
  2. hardworkinghippy

    hardworkinghippy Junior Member

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    Hi Shimmergirl,

    As you say they often separate themselves from the flock but not always. If you have the time to look carefully a good sign is a "far away" look in the eyes, head up and back and frequent yawning. Lying down and getting up frequently are also possible signs. You can run your hand along the left side of her flank to feel the position of the lamb - a major change from the day before shows that he's moving down towards the birth canal. Get into the habit of doing that regularly and you'll be surprised how accurate you can become.

    The udder "bags up", that is, starts to look redder and very stretched - but not always. Sometimes the milk doesn't come in until after the lamb/s are born. You can see how the udder looks in this photo and you'll know that the birth is imminent when there's a white or yellow string of sticky fluid hanging from her vulva as these is here.

    When you see that the tiny feet and squashed nose (In a normal frontal birth) will usually appear within half an hour or so.

    [​IMG]

    I hope that helps and I hope it all goes well for you and your girls.

    Irene
     
  3. shimmergirl

    shimmergirl Junior Member

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    Oh wow, this helps heaps, thank you:) I can see the baby jutting out from the side still and her udders are not this engorged yet. I have seen the horses do the up and down thing before, they start this around a week before foaling..

    Thanks she is a few more weeks off then..

    I thought they only lambed though in the Spring. My other one is not looking in lamb at all.
     
  4. hardworkinghippy

    hardworkinghippy Junior Member

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    They can come into season a few times a year if they don't get pregnant and there's a male around.

    She may have been pregnant and aborted and reabsorbed the foetus or it could have fallen in the field. If she's still with the ram she may be pregnant and like some women, just not show until the last minute.

    I've had lambs in mid-summer. Nature usually finds a way. :)
     
  5. shimmergirl

    shimmergirl Junior Member

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    Oh okay :) My ram runs permanantly with them.
     
  6. DONBEAR

    DONBEAR New Member

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    Hi Shimmergirl,

    Just a quick note on your suffolks. Normally pure Suffolks cycle once a year on the shortening daylength, so joining generally occurs around March. If you have crossbred animals they will cycle when a ram is introduecd to them year round. Sometimes you may fluke an off season lambing but generally they only cycle on a year.

    Donald
     
  7. leo76

    leo76 Group for banned users

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    Most ewes can handle things pretty well; patience is often more productive than intervention if nothing looks awry.
     
  8. Curramore1

    Curramore1 Junior Member

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    Gender:
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    Primary Producer
    Location:
    Curramore, Blackall Range, S E Queensland, Aust.
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    Sub-tropical to temperate 2000mm rain, elevated 350-475m
    Hello Shimmergirl,
    My NZ bred South Dorset Down and Poll Dorset, South African Dormers and Dorpers and Aussie Suffolk ewes (not the leggy American types) mostly begin to cycle the week before Christmas, with lambs 150 odd days later in the end weeks of May. 80% of my lambs arrive May 13 to May 24, I am in the ranges in SEQld. Australia at 470 metres average elevation with 2000mm rain mostly Dec to March. Lambing is finished by the end of June here with a few stragglers, most lambs are turned off direct to works at 12-15 weeks dressing 18-20kg in early September , the rams run with the ewes from December through February depending on how late the wet season arrives in December. Day length begins to shorten from Dec 22 or so, being the longest daylight day or midsummers day. Downs type shortwool breeds from the UK tend to be very daylight sensitive, if we have overcast weather in early December the lambing is usually earlier by a few weeks, because of both decreasing daylight length and improved feed because of the earlier rain and warmth. Many ewes seem to lamb just on or before daylight. My ewes tend to lie about more and graze less as they are a day or so off lambing, then the up and down round and round behaviour begins, if they are down and straining for an hour or more there is often a problem with presentation or just a big lamb. I usually note the time and go and have a cuppa and get on with other work and check back later from a distance after an hour or so and only intervene after probably another half hour or so if they haven't lambed by then. Most seem to have them out on the ground in 15-20 minutes after they start to strain, with a twin 10 or so minutes later. The birth problems we mainly get are large single lambs in maiden ewes presented head first head out, with the front feet back. The head has to go back in to be able to reach the front feet which I pull out one at a time and tie with a piece of clean cord, so head back in, one front foot out and tie, foot back in with cord, find other front foot and bring out and tie with cord, making sure that they are both front feet and from the same lamb of course, then gently pull the head and front legs out and down as the ewe strains. Another common presentation is a breech with the tail and pointy end of the backside and no legs, here just push lamb back in when the ewe isn't straining, find a back leg pull out and tie, push back in and find second back leg, then pull out backwards. These latter breech ones don't have a good record of live birth. I just put the new lamb/s straight in front of Mum's nose and let her lick it clean and bond. Only easier after you have done a couple of hundred with numb hands on a freezing hillside with an icy wind, in the dark of course. We probably only have to intervene one in a hundred lambings, mainly in maiden ewes with a different breed ram put over them with too much hybrid vigour on top of a cracker summer season causing big lambs.
     
  9. windy ridge club lambs

    windy ridge club lambs New Member

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    Behavior of a Ewe in her last trimester. I have noticed my Ewe 'moaning" when she's laying down. She's due 2-10-14. First time lambing.
    She's of large frame. She 'looks" farther along than the ewe's due before her. She up and active but shes really bellied out. I've had a lamb that suffered toxemia before and I'm always afraid to catch them too late if they are starting into the condition. Anyway, just wondered if anyone else raising sheep encounter this noise in pregnant ewes.
     

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