If you ignore the horns, who can guess how we tell the difference between ewe lambs and ram lambs, from a distance?


28 thoughts on “Twins

    • Ha! Great reply! Love it … your word choice always keeps me on my toes. The answer, however, is that females have an ear tag on the left and boys have one on the right! D

        • Ear tags are the standard required by the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), we simply choose this easy way (L/R ear) to identify males and females at a distance. Our particular sort of tag is a requirement of the National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) and identifies the animal, our farm, and the state in which we reside. At one time the federal government was thinking of requiring RFID tags (radio frequency identification) thank goodness that never happened (very expensive). Thanks for the interest. D

    • Thanks M … I’m getting to this late in the evening (sheesh … it’s only 8:33 here and I’m MORE than ready for BED) so it’ll be on my list for tomorrow. I did take a quick peek however and it looks right-up-my-alley. Thanks for thinking of me. I’ll let you know what I think. D

      • I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I recall Caitlin once mentioning that her husband achieved a Pulitzer for his work as a photographer, so she has the interesting experience of both loving the art form and doing it, and observing a master at work. Have a great day.

  1. Super photograph! I’ve got 8 ram lambs and 3 ewe lambs, same count as last year! Have experienced lambing and nursing issues this spring that are new to me and the farm and have been pretty preoccupied by the barn dramas of late. Days fly by around here. Hope you all have a beautiful weekend – finally green, green, green here and it sure is welcome!

      • 1. 2 y.o. Shetland twinned, first delivery, ram lambs, healthy and good start, no issues nursing, etc. At about a week old, 1 of the boys developed pneumonia. Brought him back from the grave in 24 hours. Good as gold now, right as rain. Other little brother doing fine all along. Mama good about allowing us to fawn over them and assist with his healing. But then mama develops hard quarters in her bag and now I’m treating her with two different types of antibiotics on her teats and injections, low grade temperature, otherwise she appears fine. Doesn’t push her boys away for nursing or anything, but they just can’t seem to get anything from her. Twice a day I have to inject an antibiotic into her teat and massage her udder and have a topical as well. The boys do continue to nurse, she doesn’t have any problems with them, but they aren’t getting much. We’ve supplemented with them a little to help them stay on their feet. Someone in my Vermont Sheep & Goat Association mentioned Ovine Progressive Pneumonia and that’s scared the dickens out of me. But I’m going to hope that she’ll turn the corner with the treatments. I have the cameras, as you know, and can observe them and see they nurse more and more. I just wish that when I was treating her I’d notice a yield in her bag. It’s not changing. Vet has been here twice, now. Sigh.

        2. 4 week old Merino ram lamb is getting shunned by his mom, Laurel. She just decided to stop feeding him altogether. So I’ve got them together in the stall to watch them, they had been out to pasture with the other moms/lambs and I wondered that it got confusing for her to be out there and decided to stop nursing. The Shetlands have no problem with being out and continuing to nurse, but this Merino has a more temperamental personality. So maybe she’s too high strung to be out there and have the distractions? Anyway, she & her lamb check out health-wise perfectly. No anemia, clear lungs, no temperatures, full, pliable bag. Someone in my Vermont Sheep & Goat Association suggested I check his teeth to see if are sharp. And so I am going to do that as soon as my little helpers arrive. That is the 19 year old that is snoozing in this rainy, Saturday morning. I can not hold that 4 week old lamb and file his teeth myself. He’s WAY too spunky!

        I’ll let you know. If the one ewe were tested and it were positive for OPP, well that would just break my heart. Because that would then mean that her little guys had it too and I’d have to cull the three of them. I hope she’s just having a temporary set-back with this hard-bag thing. And that we got on top of it in time. It’s been since Tuesday I’ve been treating her.

        Sigh, sigh, sigh.

        I had one really tough lambing this year. First time ever. One mama had dystocia. It was her first delivery, she’s a two-year old. But we got through it with massage and she delivered a giant and gorgeous ram lamb. Unfortunately he’s one that is not registerable so he will not likely go on to make more gorgeous lambs. But he is going to have some gorgeous fleece.

        I, of course, want to keep them all. But it is not likely.

        It is now pouring cats and dogs. Last night I got everyone in, including the Angora poodle-goats, as we call them, because of this forecast. I don’t have a slicker big enough to keep me dry today if this keeps up!

        I hope you and Joanna have a very pleasant weekend. If any of those problems sound like something you have troubleshot before, do let me know what worked for you. I respect your opinions and experience very much. Thank you so much for offering!

        • Oh my … you have my sympathies. Having to worry about animals is always stressful.

          1. Is the udder hard AND warm? Don’t worry about OPP … from what you’ve described it sounds like a touch of mastitis … what does your veterinarian say? Does she have good quantities of milk? Is is clear or flaky? [Squirt a bit on the palm of your hand … is it fully liquid and clear or are there flakes in it?] If mastitis is the diagnosis we used to use the run-of-the-mill dairy cow treatment called ‘Today.’ You say you don’t think the boys are getting much … what makes you think so?

          2. Don’t file anyone’s teeth! We often have Moms that are fussy about nursing for one reason or another … and we’ve never filed teeth. If Laurel is a first-time Mother then perhaps that’s all it is. Give her some time. We have someone hold the Mom and someone else sees that the little one has a good opportunity to ‘latch’ on for a bit. We’ll do this several times a day until the Mom comes to understand that it’s OK to stand for the little one. If everyone is otherwise OK … perhaps you should just confine the group from time-to-time.

          3. Big singles are like corks-in-a-bottle … it takes quite a bit of sustained effort to get them out but once they’ve started in the right direction … they POP right out. Congratulations on the beautiful ram lamb.

          4. Rain is always tough. Keep in mind that during damp conditions it’s perhaps best that everyone be outside. Being confined in the cool and damp may make YOU feel better … but it’s always a good recipe for pneumonia.

          5. Our ram lambs are developing large enough ‘dangles’ that we’re thinking it’ll be time for banding shortly.

          6. We’ll begin shearing tomorrow, I hope.

          Hang in there and keep going. No one ever said that raising sheep would be easy 100% of the time.

          Keep us updated.

          D + J

    • Absolutely … it is … girls in the left and boys on the right! When they get a bit bigger we’ll also put a tag in the off ear … yellow for pure shetland and blue for cross. An easy system that allows you to identify individuals from a distance. There was a time when the government was considering having all of us apply RFID tags (Radio Frequency Identification), I am thankful that that did not come to pass. The tag reader itself was quite expensive. I understand the need to uniquely identify animals … but I am comfortable with regular old numbered tags. D

    • If this had been a true contest Libby you would have won the prize. Yes, girls have an ID tag in the left ear (the one standing) while boys have one in the right. Eventually we will replace these smaller lamb tags with adult versions and, at the same time, put another tag in the off ear … yellow for pure shetland and blue for cross. Not only does the law require that animals be identified, but tagging in this way makes knowing who-is-who quite a lot easier … especially with a large flock. Thanks for checking in. D

  2. I’d like to think that the ewe has pink ears and the ram brown ears but it is probably just wistful thinking! They posed so nicely for you!! We recently took a pic of June sitting in the new sink I bough for my upcoming bathroom renovation!

    • That may be so in this particular case … but that’s not how we routinely distinguish between males and females. I am glad, however, that you think these two are cute. D

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