It had been days since the last lambing and Kaylee wasn’t showing any signs of labor so I stopped watching her like a hawk and decided I’d have to be patient and she would have her lamb(s) when she was good and ready. When I walked out to the back of the pasture to check the flock today I was mostly checking on the lambs and not expecting to find any changes with Kaylee.
I was in for a surprise! Kaylee was already well into labor when I spotted her, with the lambs nose and front hooves sticking out. I’m not sure how long she had been in active labor at this point, but she continued for at least thirty minutes while I was watching. It is amazing and somewhat terrifying how long they can walk around with a lamb’s face sticking out of their rear ends. Every time I catch a ewe at this stage and it is a prolonged labor I am certain that the lamb isn’t going to make it. They don’t take their first breath until after they are fully born- until then they get their oxygen through the umbilical cord- and even though I *know* this, when I see the still little face poking out, unbreathing, I always think the lamb must be dead. Thankfully, my fears have always been misplaced.
This lamb took a particularly long time being born because he was GIANT. We have had several really large lambs this year which is surprising because the stud ram we used isn’t particularly large. I haven’t actually had a chance to weigh him yet, but I’m assuming he is at least 9lb which is really large for a Shetland lamb, even a single.
This little guy, now named Nigel, isn’t just big- he is also strong and feisty! His feet had barely touched ground before he was up and nursing- much faster than the average lamb in my opinion. The combination of his healthy vigor at birth and the fleeces of both his mom and dad make this fella a great option for breeding when he is older. Unfortunately, he is too closely related to most of the ewes in my flock (mom, Kaylee, is sister, daughter or aunt to most of the other breeding ewes) to keep him as a stud for my flock. Instead, I’m going to offer him up for sale. If he doesn’t sell I would be happy to keep him as a wether- i think his fleece will be nice enough to justify keeping him as a “fiber boy”- but it would be a shape not to let him share is genes with another flock!