Monday, February 8, 2016


Introducing reluctant lambs or reluctant ewes to nursing requires an immense amount of patience. Dave has it, I don't.

We trap the ewe in a corner, I use all my weight to press her shoulder against the wall. Dave kneels beside her and leans against her rib cage, pressing it to the wall also. Then he presses his head into the angle between her spine and her pelvis, leaving him two free hands  to manipulate the nipple and the lamb.

Sometimes the ewe tries  to escape repeatedly. Every movement of hers twitches the nipple from the lambs mouth. Sometimes the lamb doesn't suck. Dave wiggles its jaw, he wiggles the nipple, he expresses a little milk into the lambs mouth. He refuses to try the ewes most successful technique for recalcitrant lambs - lick the lambs bottom.

Although we enjoy bottle lambs, they make a lot more work for the shepherd. This year, our first two lambs became bottle lambs because their mom's udder touched the ground and the lambs couldn't find her nipples. Six times a day for the last three days, Dave has patiently connected each lamb to it's moms nipple. Sometimes they nurse and sometimes they don't, so after each sucking session Dave expresses more milk from the udder and we feed that to the lambs with a bottle.

Tonight for the first time, the little boy finally nursed enthusiastically on his mom. Her udder is tightening up and the nipples no longer touch the ground. If we can keep  moms milk supply up,  we may eventually wean these lambs from their dependence on the bottle, and give Dave's patience a chance to recharge.

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