2014 Lambing Clinic

CrutchingThe New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Growers Association held another successful lambing clinic hosted by Liz and Jeff Conrad of Riverslea Farm in Epping on Saturday February 15th, 2014. About twenty folks gathered representing young folk to the more seasoned farmers with a variety of experience from neophytes to experienced sheep-raisers.

Participants first congregated at the Jeremiah Smith Grange in Lee where Liz Conrad provided a comprehensive overview of the lambing process. Liz first outlined the importance of preparing the mother, the space, a lambing kit, and important additional supplies. The discussion then proceeded to the actual pre-birth and birth process and explored such points as watching the mother for signs of impending birth, following the 20 minute rule as long as there was some progress, and managing troublesome presentations and other causes of dystocia.

Liz then expertly covered the post-birth process including jugging, the clip/dip/flip/ and tagging, after care for mom, and the importance of not interfering, to name just a few points. black ewe

The presentation concluded with an emphasis on observing the ewe and the lamb carefully to be sure all was proceeding well. Liz explained how to handle lambs with weak joints, how to check for warmth, tubing, sleepy babies, wandering babies, moms with mastitis or other health issues and more. She told a fun anecdote about a ewe who stole another ewe’s lamb prior to giving birth herself. She had this “thief” mom and baby neatly jugged up, and was wondering about another ewe who kept calling for her little one.   She assumed this calling ewe was due to lamb soon. Come to find out the ewe in the jug had not given birth yet, and the one she expected give birth any minute (she who was calling and calling) had had hers stolen by the ewe in the jug. Liz soon had things put to right!

Following the presentation in the hall, we all proceeded to Riverslea Farm where participants were first greeted by Jeff Conrad who briefly demonstrated what they do on their farm for bottle feeding, should it be needed. They generally use grocery store Playtex disposable bottles, but warned against the vacuum type.

Most of the action of the second portion of the clinic took place in the lambing barn. Here shearer Gwen Hinman demonstrated crutching, the process of shearing the crotch and back end of the ewe in preparation for lambing. This makes it much easier for the lamb to find a clean teat, and for the farmer should he need to assist the ewe in birthing.

Dr. Tim Fallon of Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic was also on hand, answering numerous questions about dealing with worms, fly strike, milk fever (calcium deficiency in the mother), thiamine deficiency (polioencephalomalacia), and others. His knowledge and wry humor were much appreciated by attendees.

          Before folks headed for home to beat the coming snowfall, (Doesn’t it always snow on lambing clinic days?), Liz demonstrated the clipping of the umbilical cord, the dipping into 7% iodine, and the ear tagging process.

A hearty thank you to Liz and Jeff Conrad, shearer Gwen Hinman, and Dr. Timothy Fallon. Please consider attending the clinic next year as it makes for an interesting and informative experience. It is also fun and often beneficial to view other sheep farmers’ operations.

-      Joanne Bickford