Sunday, March 5, 2017


This post about Ruthie's lambing has taken me a while to write. I feel such a sense of failure and questioning after her ordeal. I have no idea when she began labor or when her water broke. Her 150 day mark was on Feb 16th, but she showed no signs of anything until she began having occasional dripping from her back end around day 155. She was huge and the fluid was clear and I thought she must be a little incontinent of urine since she was acting normally and eating well. But by day 157 she was only nibbling at food and seemed listless. She drank a bucket of warm molasses water and would eat grain if I hand fed her. Her temp was normal. On a vaginal exam I could feel a lamb nose but there was a rather thickish membranous something stopping my fingers from going into the lamb's mouth. I have often felt a very thin lower uterine segment that it was possible to feel baby parts through in laboring women. Was this Ruthie's lower uterine segment or very thin cervix I was feeling? Since nothing seemed to be changing I called the vet to come out and help me figure out what was going on.

The vet arrived about an hour and a half later and found Ruthie to be fully dilated with a dead lamb presenting with nose forward but legs back. This lamb had stopped everything. As the vet was getting the first lamb out I saw the membrane that I had felt. At first I thought the cervix was coming out with the lamb but then I realized it was a thicker than usual and opaque membrane. Had I realized what I was feeling would I have been able to save this lamb? The second lamb was also born dead but thankfully we were able to revive the third lamb. Triplets again. But only one ram lamb living. At least Ruthie has a lamb to mother. Judging from the smell of the lambs Ruthie must have had her water break at least a day or two prior.
The other lambs, a ewe and ram lamb, looked just like this little guy. All the lambs weighed between 9 and 10 pounds. These were the first full blood Coopworth lambs we had from our newer ram Mercer.  I always learn when the vet comes out and this time was no exception. I can't be afraid to do a vaginal exam if I am not certain of something. Can a sheep even be incontinent of urine? I am petrified I will have similar problems with Hazel, who is right now at day 148. She at least loves my attention and is enjoying all the scratches and rubs.

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