Lambing is always an exciting time on the farm. The sound of newborn lambs bleating for their mothers is just wonderful. It can sometimes be stressful for the anxious flock-master or flock-mistress as they await the birth of the year’s lambs and hope that there are no difficulties.
The ewe’s body usually starts preparing for lambing a couple weeks to a month before the birth of her lambs. First her vulva will swell and get darker pink. Her udder will then start to fill with colostrum – the lamb’s thick, antibody-rich, first milk. You can see the changes in Erin’s udder before lambing in the collage below. She gave birth the day after the last photo in the collage was taken.
Closer to lambing, the ewes sides “hollow out” as the lamb drops into birthing position. As active labor approaches she will become restless and separate herself from the flock. She will begin to paw at the ground to make the area comfortable for her.
These photos were taken over a couple years and are a few of out ewes in labor. Click on each photo to see it enlarged.
Stage 1 The water sac emerges (figure 1)…
Stage 8 This ewe continues cleaning the lamb as she rests before her 2nd lamb is born. You can almost make out the 2nd lamb’s feet (see arrow).Stage 9 The first lamb searches for the teat and begins to suckle as the ewe cleans her second lamb. Nursing triggers the release of the placenta (see arrows).