The Trouble with Triplets

July 12, 2018

We don't do triples very often around here, but sometimes it happens.   Shirley, one of our original sheep really ruined us on triples. She gave us three sets of triples over the years, and until her last lambs, she never had an issue feeding them all.  Her second set of lambs on the farm were triples, Shrek, Fiona and Donkey. We kept Donkey as a breeding ram. He did not beget us any more triples. But a few years later, Shirley had another set - Pete, Sharon and Berg. We kept Sharon, as I have a habit of keeping Shirley's offspring. Her very last set of lambs were also triplets - Gummy, Squeaky and Spike. She was unable to feed any of the three, her milk never came in. Gummy passed away as a little lamb, but Squeaks and Spike got to stay on the farm.

 

 

 

Sharon started out the gate with triples. Remember when I told you that Shirley spoiled us? Sharon has not had the same luck. I figured, a daughter of Shirley, who was a triplet herself, could certainly care for hers. But the first time out the gate might not have been the best time.   Her firsts were Sol, Nanna and Gersemi. And as they were born, each lamb got significantly smaller. Gersemi was literally half the size of Sol. I really should have second guessed this one. I locked Sharon and her littles in a stall so they could bond, she certainly seemed to have enough milk. I found Gersemi underneath her, passed, the very next morning. She may have gotten smothered under her mom, she may have passed and mom was just trying to comfort her, she may have had birth defects or other issues that made her so small that she would never have survived, but I should have pulled her, brought her in the house to stay warm and bottle fed her.

 

 

 

So Sharon's second set of triples - Shining Armor, Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie - they all came out close to the same size. Great! They were all active and seemed healthy. I decided she could do this, and left her in a stall with all three. I planned on keeping Pinkie Pie - she was a very intriguing light brown color. But again, we found her the next morning, passed away.

 

 

Did I learn my lesson this time?

 

In the mean time, Betty actually dropped triples - Sansa, Jon Snow and Lady. This seemed to be doing quite well. We did bring Lady in the house to bottle feed as she seemed to be struggling. She too, passed away with symptoms that appeared to be similar to tetanus, and she had been too young for her vaccines. Hmmm... Triples are trouble.

 

I was going to keep Sansa, but decided I didn't want to continue to persue triplets.

 

Then Sharon had Han Solo, Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca. These three were so bonded with mom and so bonded with each other, we could not bring one in the house. And all were nursing! So we decided to supplement just to make sure. And at this point, Sharon had developed mastitis in one utter, so surely the babes needed supplements. Falcon and Chewy enjoyed some sips now and then, but we could not get Han interested. We also think, since it was winter, and the moms were eating from the hay feeder, that these little sneaks were likely stealing milk from other moms. Chewy was a sneaky little dude!

 

 

These three all made it, and we kept Falcon as a breeding ewe. She is well over a year and has  not given birth yet. Hopefully she's waiting until she is truly ready before she drops triplets too!

 

So now we have surprises from Frigg. Shannon swore she was so big there had to be three in there. Not a triplet herself, and doubtful she was impregnated by a triplet ram, I doubted it. I should not do this. But here we are with three beautiful little lambies. Mom and babies are locked in a stall today, to ensure a strong bond and no interference from rams who can sniff her hormones. All babies appeared to have full bellies this morning, and seemed bright and active. I will bring a bottle today to supplement as needed, if that will help all three thrive and be successful. And don't be surprised if little Daffodil becomes part of our long term flock.

 

As a general rule, we don't like to interfere much with mom and baby. Mom knows best, "breast is best" as they get good immunities and vitamins from mom's milk. We can provide powdered colostrum and milk, as well as raw jersey milk for the littles as needed, but we prefer mom to take care of them. But we have to put in the extra effort for triples. Frigg certainly has enough milk to support them, no visible issues - they are all close in size, and active, bouncy and working really hard to find those teats. I think they will all be OK. But if I have to sneak a little extra milk, I sure will.

 

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