The Biggest and the Littlest

February 3, 2020

Taking care of our super sweet Firestar made  me start thinking of lambs and data. She was born at 3.5 pounds, and another triplet born just a few weeks prior was born at 14 pounds. Those two are at wild ends of the spectrum for lamb sizes.

 

 

 

It made me (spreadsheet nerd) want to know our biggest and our smallest lambs born ever.

 

It turns out, they both happened last year, in April and May.

 

Firestar makes me think a lot about teeny tiny Tina Turner, who was born at only 2 pounds. If I could go back in time, I would have brought her into the house, like Firestar, and kept her inside as long as I needed to. I really shouldn't beat myself up, we didn't have a house on the farm, and it was May, not January. The cold shouldn't have been as much an issue. I would have loved to have seen her grow up. She was just so very small.

 

But she takes the cake as the SMALLEST lamb ever born on the farm. Just a few weeks before she was born, we were shocked at Sarah Mclachlan, who was born at 16.5 pounds!

 

Here are pictures for comparison.

Same little girl, you can see teeny tiny Tina Turner is so small in her arms, but Sarah McLachlan is almost too much for her to handle.  Those pictures were taken on the day they were born!

 

Our lambs are, on average, 8.16 lbs when they are born. Of course, triplets are going to be smaller than singles, for the most part. There is a small correlation between birth weight and final weight, but actually, the strongest correlation to finish weight is actually if they are male or female, and then if they are single, twin or triplet. Both of the lambs shown above were singles, and ewes. Triplets are usually much smaller not only at birth, but also at finish weight, as they have to share mama's milk between three of them.

 

My data shows that ewe lambs are 13% smaller than ram lambs, so a significant difference there.  It also shows that twins are 6% smaller than singles, and triplets are 26% smaller than singles, so triplets really lose some growth rate to sharing their mom! This is why we often pull one triplet to bottle feed, so the other two can be successful with mom.

 

Lambs fed on a bottle are also 25% smaller than their counterparts who are not, but often that is because they are a triplet. Usually, we take the smallest triplet to feed on a bottle, so they have a rough start to begin with. 

 

Because we lost teeny tiny Tina Turner last year, and we really don't know why, I have taken all precautions with Firestar. She's been spending sunny days outside with the other sheep, and even spent last night in the barn, but today, with the ice and snow, she came right back into the house. No sense in her spending her calories on trying to stay warm, when she needs to grow grow grow! So we'll give her the edge up by keeping her inside as long as we need to!

 

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