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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The most interesting thing happened

Wednesday morning I was greeted by a new lamb out of one of the unregistered younger ewes. The tiniest of black ewe lambs I believe I've ever seen. She was so tiny, perhaps a pound and a half. Maybe 2? Tiny. VERY tiny. Her mother had cleaned her and she was up as the rest exited their night time shelter. Her mother nuzzled her, talked to her quietly, and the tiny thing walked in little steps to follow everyone else. Her mother hung behind with her, the 2 stopping a ways from the door. A long walk for a tiny thing. I kept thinking - goodness, she looks like a preemie - but I didn't check, only determining she was a she and watching as her mom called her over to eat, which she did quite well. Ok, so things are going well and I'll come back later to check. This morning one of the instructors here came out early to work her dogs. She came to the house with a little black lamb in her arms. Oh no I thought! Come to find out, she must have been out all night long, all alone, and she'd found her in the corner. I quickly checked her mouth by sticking my finger in it -oh thank heavens, it wasn't ice cold, it wasn't as warm as it should be but not cold. PHEW. Ok.....warm milk now! So I grabbed milk out of the fridge and warmed it up well. Goats milk of course, and Nigerian Dwarf milk to boot. Since I'm on milk test, I know that right now my milk averages 7.8% butterfat - more than twice the average butterfat content of whole cows milk or large breed goats milk. So, I opened her mouth and put the Pritchard problem, she sucked on it very very well. I finally thought - ok, since you're here in the warm house being held by a kind lady, I'll check those teeth now. Sure enough, the skin was still covering those front teeth! Imagine! This baby was born Wednesday early am, and as of today, Saturday, they STILL had not emerged! Wow........that is one very very young preemie, and I'm pretty shocked that she's made it to tell you the truth! Shortly after that nice warm long drink of milk, she fell fast asleep in the kind woman's arms too... a much needed warm up from both the inside and the outside. It was 32 degrees last night.....perhaps a tribute to the tenacity towards living that the Shetlands possess!


Nancy K. said...

OK ~ so I've been sick for a week and am still in a congested, medicated stupor but I'm not clear if the little lamb that came into the house is the same little lamb that you saw follow her mom or perhaps a twin???

Sorry if I'm being dense.


Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

It is one and the same. Her mom is dedicated to her needs, and she's a strong little preemie no doubt!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

If skin-covered front teeth are proof of prematurity, then that clinches it; Brava's twins were a bit early. Like yours, they are doing well, but at this point their bites aren't great. Could that be related at all to being early? I suspect it's their mother's genetics; her bite was iffy as a lamb, but her permanent teeth came in fine.

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

Hey Michelle - yes, if a lamb or lambs are born and those front teeth are covered by skin, they are most likely preemies. Newborns need those erupted teeth to help hold on to the teat - so some may need tube feeding or at least help getting that initial colostrum, or supplemental feedings. I've never had a kid or lamb have covered teeth for that long and actually thrive. Her dam is very vigilant and devoted, standing perfectly still to feed her. I find her sleeping allot but she's actually growing a little. She was extremely tiny - You could curl her up and hold her in both hands completely covered.