Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Adventures of a Stay-at-Home Mom, Raising Bummer Lambs, Day 2

Here I am giving some extra attention to the 2 weakest ones. (Back stretches and a warm bath at the end of the day are a must with this much bending over!)
Hello my faithful followers! I'm really happy to report that we are about 20 hours into raising this and so far so good! It's still early and early is usually the worst for casualties.
years batch of bummer lambs here on "Patch-A-Heaven"
 Today's Report:
My head hit the pillow this morning at 2:25AM. ( Had to make sure those weak ones were going to last the few hours  while I slept before I could go down.)
I woke at 5:30AM for the next feeding. I only had one of the 2 week old ones that was still defiantly fighting the bottle. She's kind of like me, a little stubborn, just a little! (Keep in mind this poor little ewe had a real mommy for 2 weeks and she's not ready to give in to my bottle feeding yet.) And that's okay, she was strong enough that I was okay to let her slip by with getting just the milk that dripped into her mouth that she reluctantly swallowed. So I know she got a little bit, but she's not ready to actively suck yet. I have learned in my experience with these new lambs in the early stages (first 24-48 hours I have them) that there are usually 3 scenarios for them not sucking, either the lamb is too weak and can't suck, it has literally given up and doesn't care to live or the third, which is the case of the ewe above, that they are strong physically and also strong willed. They are basically in their own way letting me know that this is not what they had in mind. (Rebellious youth!) And the ones that are strong like that will eventually learn to love the bottle because their hunger will set in and they will usually give in and try it. So I'm being patient and kind to her and I think she will come around. (I will keep a close eye on her though because I don't want her to weaken to the next scenario.)
In the case of the other 2, where you may have ones that are too weak to suck, those are the ones who need an intervention immediately (feeding by way of stomach tube) or they will be unable to be rescued. Yes, I know how to perform this feeding through stomach tube. No, I was not formally trained and am not a Veterinarian, though most of the time I wish I was! (I actually learned how to insert a feeding tube on the internet!) What did we ever do before the internet?! This was learned in a moment of desperation early on when I first started raising these little guys and was losing them because they refused to eat, I didn't have anywhere else to turn and was open to trying anything! I figured it was going to die if I didn't do something so why not try to save it.(It was a little scary at first, but it gets easier.)  I was that lamb's last hope, I was able to do it and have saved many since then. I have also learned that it is far better to give extra feedings and attention in the first 3 days than to have to tube! Since I have been giving extra feedings and attention in those early hours, (the past 3 years,) I have only had to tube one lamb and have only lost one in about 35 lambs, that is great odds!

The 3 small weak ones from this year are getting a lot stronger and are learning to love me and the bottle. (Yep, I'm their mommy now!) So far I would say they are going to make it.
And all the rest in between had a good 5AM feeding.

Fed them bottles again at about 9AM (after getting the kiddos off to school)
They (except Little Miss Stubborn) are all nursing the bottle well.

Fed again at 1PM (after getting my kiddos off bus and lunch in them as well)
Happy to report that all (even Little Miss Stubborn) have eaten this round. I think Little Miss Stubborn is coming around to me and the bottle. (Hunger has finally gotten the best of her!)

I will continue these feedings of 2-4 ounces every 4 hours or so until I am comfortable that they are all going to make it, then I will increase the amounts of milk at a time and decrease the feedings to 3 times a day, then decreasing to 2 times a day and then total weaning later when they are on pasture and grain.

My outfit of choice lately is a pair of brown cover-alls! And thank goodness for them, because all the close up feeding and holding makes for messiness! I can wear my regular clothes, slip the cover-alls on, get the job done and slip out and onto my next task. Now I just need a pair that's not so tan! (I'm a fashion designer, you would think I would have a more "fashionable" pair of cover-alls! How embarrassing!) I'm working in it!!

Hope you have a wonderful day!

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