Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Friday, 6-Apr-07 - Orphan Soay Sheep Lamb!

Well, it seems like blogs are here to stay. Having always been conservative in embracing new electronic technological advances (never bought Sony Betamax – Whew!), I stood on the sidelines for a while to see if this World Wide Web thing, this email thing, this Google thing, this eBay thing, would really fly before jumping in whole-heartedly. I guess it’s time for me to accept blogs as well. Seems somehow a bit narcissistic, but I guess it is roughly the modern equivalent of a journal or diary, albeit a bit public.
So here goes….(in blog tradition, newest entries on top – scroll down to older stuff if you want to read in chronological order)

While we are waiting patiently (not!) here at Woodland Creek Farm for our own Soay sheep ewes to begin lambing—while seemingly every other breeder is gleefully reporting nearly daily on new lamb births—I received an email about 9PM from a local Soay sheep breeder whom I visited last summer. She asks for my phone number, saying she needs help with an orphan lamb. Upon calling, I discover that she has half-day-old twins, one of whom does not appear to be getting and “suckling time”, and whom the mother continually butts away in favor of the other twin.
The breeder has no lamb milk replacer on hand, nor any small lamb-size bottle nipples, and at 10PM at night is not likely to find any. I have them, and offer to supply them. As we discuss options though, she cannot (due to upcoming planned travel) take on a bottle lamb for the next couple months. She offers the lamb to me, but…it is a ram, and from fine genetic stock, but not carrying traits that fit with my breeding program goals. And like most breeders, I have a plethora of rams anyway. Last thing I need, I’m thinking, is another ram!
In addition, in the back of my mind, I am remembering last year, when for the first time I tried saving a premature Soay lamb. It was too small / weak to suckle, and due to my inexperience with using a stomach feeding tube I got milk in it’s lungs and it died of pneumonia within a couple days. Not an auspicious start. So I didn’t actually have a great deal of confidence that I could save this orphan either. We agreed that somehow the lamb and the supplies needed to get together either way, so she brought the lamb to our place, figuring we would decide then where both would end up that night (the lamb and supplies, that is).
While waiting for the lamb to arrive, my wife (Michelle) and I discussed whether she was up to caring for the orphan--as it would be mostly her job doing all the daytime feeding while I was gone. Then too there was the notorious problem of bottle-fed rams often becoming too tame and becoming aggressive on maturity. Still, once the lamb arrived, and we saw it, (and Michelle held it) the deal was sealed. There was no way the lamb was leaving, if we had any say. So he stayed, and was named Jack (not my choice, but I’m trying not to get attached to him!). We prepared a bottle of replacer and he immediately sucked down about a ¼ cup. He seemed very strong and vigorous, curiously exploring the back porch and the dog kennel where he would spend the first night. A very good start, (compared to our miserable experience last year with the premature, weak, non-suckling lamb). We went to bed confident we had made the right decision and Jack was going to be OK.


Kathie said...

Hi Gevan,
Fun story about your bottle babies. In my experience a bottle ram doesn't have to be a monster when it grows up, obviously one does not want to overly tame them, but they can be okay too. I would feed it but handle it as little as possible and let it run with the flock between feedings. My ram Tucker, now seven years old, was a bottle baby and he has grown up to be a delightful, respectful, but friendly, gentle little guy.

Terri said...

Gevan, This blog is really cool. We really love your new babies!!!!!!
Also, the black is amazing! Worth the wait eh???!!!!
Terri and family