Triplets … nearly

Wednesday was quite occupied with  lambing. Click on a gallery image to migrate to a carousel view – ESC will bring you back to this post.

Here’s a story from the day which concerns Greta, a three-year old Shetland ewe, who had easily delivered a nice ram lamb sometime before Noon. She had chosen a spot to lamb which was quite near Chloe who had also given birth to a single ram lamb. Because of the close proximity of these events neither mother was entirely convinced which lamb was hers. Having watched them for the remainder of the afternoon I wasn’t sure who was more confused, the newborns or their mothers. In any case Greta lambed normally and all was well at sunset. After doing a visual check at 4 AM I didn’t get to afternoon chores until nearly 4 PM.  At that time I noticed Greta was in one of the sheds with her lamb. She didn’t start as I approached. As I got closer I noticed a single hoof protruding from her back-end, the amnion was  intact. I held her with my left arm and gently pulled the hoof with my right hand – there wasn’t much movement – it was clear that this second lamb hadn’t delivered because it had a leg back and was hung up in Greta’s pelvis. This sort of malpresentation is fairly common and easily dealt with, when observed. For whatever reason this second lamb hadn’t presented in the hours between the delivery of her brother and sunset. Because I was fairly certain that the lamb was dead I didn’t retract it but rather adjusted the angle of the shoulders within the birth canal – and out she slipped. I carried the lamb back to the barn and returned with a dose of Penicillin for Greta. She started as I approached and I noticed a hoof protruding from her back-end. I managed to grab her, deliver the dose of Penicillin, and then her third lamb. The delivery was normal with two legs forward and I didn’t give it much thought – believing that the third triplet would be dead. As it lay wet on the ground, quite motionless at first, I noticed the slightest of shudders. Because Greta was confused and panicked I attended to the live ram lamb by clearing it of membranes and excess fluids. To say that Greta was bewildered by all of this would be an understatement; she was not at all sure that this wriggling, slimy, thing was her responsibility. Because it was late in the day and I was not convinced she would take care of #3 I penned mother and her two lambs in the barn with straw, water, fresh hay and a bit of grain. I checked at dark and then again this morning and all seemed well. I’ll feel better about all of this when I can check on the three once again this afternoon. [Update. When I got home Greta seemed OK. I gave her another dose of Penicillin and let her and her babies out to pasture.]

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