First time ewe rejecting lamb AFTER bonding

eenie114

Completly Hopeless
10 Years
Dec 6, 2009
12,005
43
341
Southwestern Washington State
So we've never seen THIS before. Our yearling, first-time ewe had one white ram lamb two days ago and everything seemed fine. He was nursing, she was standing, licking, making "mommy noises," everything.
Today we went to move them out of the maternity ward pen and into the pasture to rejoin the rest of the flock. After putting them in, the ewe suddenly seemed to forget which baby was hers, even though he (the lamb) knew which ewe was his mother. She began butting him away and hasn't accepted him since.
Any ideas on how to get her to RE-bond? We've been holding her so that he can continue nursing but she doesn't like it one bit.
 

bugflipper

Songster
9 Years
Apr 9, 2010
228
20
113
I have this happen every now and then. Put them both in a small pen. Give her hay and sweet feed to keep her occupied. If she begins hitting him to keep him from nursing while she eats bottle feed him and butcher her. It's that simple. When you hear of someone being overwhelmed from bottle feeding multiple lambs every year it's trouble they created by not removing the problems from the flock.
Good luck.
 

eenie114

Completly Hopeless
10 Years
Dec 6, 2009
12,005
43
341
Southwestern Washington State
I have this happen every now and then. Put them both in a small pen. Give her hay and sweet feed to keep her occupied. If she begins hitting him to keep him from nursing while she eats bottle feed him and butcher her. It's that simple. When you hear of someone being overwhelmed from bottle feeding multiple lambs every year it's trouble they created by not removing the problems from the flock.
Good luck.
Thanks! We may not butcher her and just not allow her to be bred... She's a very nice fiber animal so it would be a shame to loose all the fleeces.
 

newfoundland

Songster
9 Years
Jul 1, 2010
976
74
151
Oh wow, this seems overly harsh treatment. I live in traditional sheep rearing country, since the middle ages the people have raised sheep, round here. Some ewes do reject their lambs, but another season they accept it. Who really knows why? Lambs luckily are very easy to hand rear. It is time consuming i know, but for such a short period really. A ewe who produced decent lambs round here would not be butchered. Especially as she produces a good fleece.
 

bugflipper

Songster
9 Years
Apr 9, 2010
228
20
113
I can't speak for Americans in general, just the breeds of the Americas vs the European and Arabic type sheep. With the standard breeds in Europe it was acceptable to not cull bad behavior or sickly animals. The are highly prone to predation. A shepherd stayed with them, tending to them. As a blanket statement when talking about the breeds as a whole they are not very hardy, prone to illness, prone to parasites and it's very common for the ewes to reject lambs. These undesirable traits were inbred over centuries. Now that the economy requires most to work a full time job it creates a burden to inoculate, worm and bottle feed all hours of the day and night.

With the breeds of the Americas a blanket statement would be they are pretty well parasite resistant. They are very hardy not prone to sickness. They very rarely reject lambs. Generally they can protect themselves from predators. Blanket statements are highly unfair, however many truths ring true for the respective breeds and their origins. Most people in America don't have the time to care for lambs since most households have both parents working and children can't be expected to get up at 2am to feed the lambs. But they make the mistake of getting a breed that has been babied for centuries and they have to fulfill that roll. The only way to turn it around is culling or get rid of the breed and get one of the more self supportive breeds common to the Americas.

By the way it's not my intention to be cross, or a know it all. It's just one of those aspects that people don't think to research before they jump in and it turns into a very overwhelming negative experience for them. I raise mouflon (wild European hair sheep breed), american blackbelly and bighorn. I have had 2 ewes in 20 some years that did not allow the lamb to nurse. They were introduced to another with a baby and accepted. The ewes were tagged and butchered later. I have no need for an animal that's not sustainable as I have a farm to run, a full time job and smaller jobs to worry with. For me it boils down to time. Yet the traditional high maintenance breeds would not be high maintenance today had the shepherd's been of the mindset of improving breed health, parasite resistance, lambing and predator resistance instead of greed to have as much fleece and meat as possible for market.
 

newfoundland

Songster
9 Years
Jul 1, 2010
976
74
151
I have to respectfully disagree with you on some points bugflipper. Our native sheep are perfectly suited to our climate and the terrain they inhabit. A sheep has to be pretty hardy for example to live and thrive in the Welsh mountains or the highlands and islands of Scotland. The winter is bleak in these places. They are not sickly but rugged, and we have virtually no predator, so that doesn't have to be a concern.

Regarding the selective breeding of our forefathers, I believe they knew what they were about. It has never been about the amount of fleece but always the quality and there I believe is the difference. We have always gone for quality above everything else. That is how our area became rich in the middle ages, exporting wool to the finest weavers in Europe. They would only deal in British wool. Welsh lamb is still widely regarded as the best lamb in the world. There really is no substitute for quality. which is why our sheep and cattle are exported all over the world.

As for the care of the sheep, in our area farmers still employ shepherds if they have a large number of sheep to tend. We live in the salt marshes so sheep must be overwintered indoors because of the winter flooding. Foot rot could be a problem if they were put out to pasture before the water has properly receded. Some lambs will inevitably be bottle fed every year, and if you go into any farm house in January/February you are likely to see a crate of lambs beside the wood stove, waiting for their bottles. Labour intensive? yes, worthwhile? most definitely!
 

bugflipper

Songster
9 Years
Apr 9, 2010
228
20
113
Oh not at all. Wanted to be sure to let you know that I meant no disrespect at all. European sheep in America generally means the English breeds since they are the most common. We have a lot of problems over here with predation, parasites, climate intolerance and overgrazing with them. Of course healthy flocks of them can be raised in the right climates but there are so many different climates in the USA and people generally don't take that into consideration when buying.
Have a wonderful day. By the way I truly enjoyed reading your posts.
 
Top Bottom