The ups and downs of raising livestock

Last night we witnessed the joyous event of our matriarchal ewe, Millie, giving birth to two ewe lambs, one white, and one moorit (brown).  She’s doing great, as are her lambs.  This will be Millie’s last hurrah.  She has earned her retirement after she raises these girls!

After Millie finished up we put her into her post partum stall and brought in Molly, who was pacing the fences and looking ready.  After a long night of watching her, not wanting to miss anything should she need assistance, dawn finally broke and eventually in the foggy late morning she started to labor more seriously.

After a short while we realized things were not going well – we saw meconium in the fluid coming from her, which indicated that the lamb might be in distress, thereby causing it to pass the meconium (the first stool) into the womb.

Last year, with difficulty and assistance, Molly brought into the world an 11 pound ewe.  This year it was a ram – and he was even bigger, with horn buds.  When I first reached in to try to find out what might be distressing him, I found him twisted with his neck and head bent back.  The placenta was fighting for the position that the head needed to take and after a lot of struggling, Roy and I realized that we were not going to win this battle. 

We quickly set up to try a Caesarian, and in the end we pulled out a lamb that I was not able to revive.  Molly, too, was in pretty bad shape from blood loss and the surgery.  And sadly, we had to euthanize her.

We know that we can’t win them all.  And animals must be culled in livestock flocks and herds.  Some animals are not fit for remaining as breeding stock, and we had to make that decision for Molly today.  Had she even recovered from this, we could not be sure that her uterus would withstand another pregnancy.  We will miss her – she was part of our foundation flock, and we are happy to have two of her ewes from the past two breedings at our farm, Shirley and Freyja. She will live on in them, and in our hearts.  She actually became a cover girl recently on the Icelandic Sheep Breeders Association Newsletter.  This is how we shall remember her.

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2 comments on “The ups and downs of raising livestock

  1. Marge Jackson says:

    I am so sorry to hear you lost Molly. She was a very pretty girl. What a lovely remembrance we all have of her.

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