This is the latest contribution from one of our younger generation of correspondents, Xavier Marrs, aged 10 years.
It’s spring time, and that means many different animals are giving birth, all over the northern hemisphere! That includes sheep.
Recently my family went on a walk amongst the fields of Romney Marsh sheep, at the back of the River Brede. On the way back we saw an ewe trying to give birth to her lambs. We could see the lambs foot in the amniotic sac, but there was a problem. We realised that she had a prolapse of the birth canal. However, the lamb was stuck because the farmer had previously sewn-up across the prolapse. We phoned and shared photos with the farmer, who then came to join us. While keeping an eye out for the farmer, we kept a close watch on how the ewe was doing. The ewe was extremely large because of the lambs inside. These sheep are bred for twins so that the farmer would get more money selling more lambs.
In the time it took the farmer to arrive at the field, the ewe consistently was in “full labour”. This includes getting down on her side and putting her head high in the air while she tried pushing the lambs out. That said, in the time that we had been watching the ewe, she seemed to not be in distress at all. Every now and then, her head would go down and she would eat grass, still lying on her side and trying to get her lambs out.
The farmer pulled up in front of us. He jumped out of his Land Rover holding a shepherd’s hook, and a small knife to cut the stitches in the prolapse. The ewe got up so he immediately went after her with his hook. He pulled her leg and rolled the ewe onto her side. Whilst the farmer knelt down beside the ewe, my dad called me and my sister over to watch the lambs coming out.
The farmers hand came out with a yellow lamb in his grasp, and he placed it in front of the ewe’s head, and she immediately started to lick it clean. I named her Geraldine – the lamb, not the sheep. In went the farmers hand again and this time a completely white lamb flopped out, and was also placed carefully in front of the ewe’s head. This one I called Gilbert. The ewe was considerably smaller as each of the lambs came out, but still quite large. The farmer put his hand inside the ewe’s body again, just to check for more. Out came a third, which I promptly named Gary.
The farmers hand disappeared into the ewe’s body (again) and after some time of tension of “Is there another?”, the fourth, and final, lamb appeared.
Georgina is the last lamb’s name.
It is quite rare for a sheep to have triplets, let alone quadruplets!
The farmer explained that normally an ewe would not need help giving birth, but this one did as she had stitches because of the prolapse, so it was good that we had realised the problem and called him.
The farmer offered for me to mark the lambs with a red spray. I did a dot on the left shoulder for each of them, though Geraldine moved while I was doing it, so she got a stripe instead of a dot. Now I am always looking for the quadruplet lambs in the field with my trademark lamb sign!
Perhaps you could let me know in the comments if you find them – they are in a field near to Camber Castle.
Image Credits: Marrs Family .