You may recall me discussing our history with triplet lambs here.
It's January, 2020, and we are just getting into lambing season. So far this month, we have already had 2 sets of triplets. These were both surprises, but maybe they should not have been. Onyx is a lamb we bought a few years ago from another farm. Oola is daughter to Cindy, who we lost several years ago. Oola has a bad history and is on my cull list. Neither seemed to have triplets in their history. What they had in common was me thinking for at least 3 weeks that they SHOULD have already given birth! Their udders grew so HUGE that I always thought "tonight should be the night!" And it never was. I should never doubt Shannon, she always said "I think there are triplets in there!"
Our last few times with triplets, things did not go well, including losing at least one of the lambs. So when Onyx had triplets, we panicked. I put them all in a stall alone, and trained my camera on it to watch them. We brought out bottles of colostrum to feed them with a bottle, and you know what? They were fine. I especially kept an eye on the littles ewe lamb, and she did, one day, snarf down a decent amount from a bottle. Mama is very connected to these babies, so pulling them off completely was not necessary.
After a few days, we let mama and babies out and we did discover that the little ewe lamb (her name is Black Widow!) she's a sneakster! She takes the opportunity when the other nursing mamas are feeding at the hay feeder, she'll sneak milk from other moms. Honestly, she and her siblings are not interested in the bottle and they are doing GREAT!
Now on to Oola...
She's had a rough go, which is why she is on my cull list. Her first lamb was a stillborn. She was heartbroken. She's not a bad mama, she just has the WORST luck. She had twins born next, one was born with an eye infection. They seemed to be doing well, but mama got mastitis. Her udders were huge, and we thought it was because she was feeding twins. So we have to take some blame here, by the time we checked, it was too late - one of her udders was destroyed.
Third time is a charm, or three strikes and your out is kind of a mantra I have here. So I gave her one last go, which was probably a poor choice, since she is missing an udder.
So as we noticed she was pregnant, we knew that one udder could not be saved. Her other one started to fill up. And fill up. And UP and UP! It got to the point that her ONE udder was so full, it looked like a normal set of two udders JUST BEFORE birth! That udder was huge! I checked it several times to make sure it was soft. It still was. All was well.
But she just kept going on without giving birth. Other lambs, with smaller bags had given birth. But not Oola. She did last night.
I awoke this morning to two lambs on the camera - on opposite sides of the stall and mama was freaking out, running back and forth between the two. I figured, one udder that big could feed these two just fine.
When I got out of bed and went into the barn to weigh and tag them, I discovered a third. And boy was she TINY.
OY. She got quickly whisked away into the house. Mama had not cleaned her much and was struggling to chase after her boys. She was shaking, so into the house to warm up. She's sleeping in a box right now.
The boys are outside in the barn with mama. I put a heat pad in the stall and wrapped them in a blanket to keep them warm. They all got colostrum paste, but their suckle reflex is not strong yet. Being warm really helps that, so hopefully that will kick in when they get hungry.
The worst part? Oola's big udder has mastitis, and isn't producing any milk. So we now have three bottle babies. So far, none of the three are drinking from a bottle, but hopefully the colostrum paste will get them through a little bit. I am very concerned about all three. Average birth weight on the farm is 8.22 lbs. Spider Man and Iceman were born at 7.5 pounds, so just on the small size. Firestar weighed in at 3.5 lbs. She is very tiny. I really hope we can keep her in the house for a while and see how she does. If we can keep her going on bottles, she might just be Shannon's show lamb fr 4H. I don't expect her to win anything, but it will be a learning experience for Shannon.
Onyx's three littles are getting their first round of vaccines tomorrow. They are growing well, and thriving outside, playing with all the other lambs.
Oola's fate is now sealed. I was really hoping for Third Time's a Charm for her. But mastitis in her other udder has just sealed it. We don't prefer bottle babies, but we take care of them the best we can. There is no chance for her to continue producing. Her udders likely won't heal and we just can't have a mom that can't produce milk.