The ewe we've been waiting for went into early stages of labor around 3:00 this afternoon. Perfect timing, as Meg wanted to watch a birth and I could keep working and be around to help if needed. It didn't go as smoothly as I'd imagined. Instead of having triplets as I'd guessed she ended up having a very difficult delivery of a 14.6 pound single lamb (Most single birth lambs are 7-8 pounds).
The ewe was pushing hard by 6:00 PM but nothing was happening so we decided it was time to see what was going on. Meg held the ewe, but hardly needed to as she was already exhausted from the labor. I soaped up and put on a plastic glove and found two legs and a nose coming in perfect position but it took an hour of hard work on all of our part before we finally the lamb finally squeezed out.
It lay there perfectly still, but we could see faint breaths so we did what we could to clear the airways. The ewe was too exhausted to stand up but did nuzzle and attempted to lick the baby when we put it close to her face.
Once we all had a chance to rest a bit the ewe was able to stand up and we brought them all to a stall in the barn. The lamb remained limp. By this time it was getting chilly out so we left the ewe in the stall to recover and warmed up the lamb in a warm water bath and tried to stimulate some "life" into it; but all we could get was the short gasping breaths and the movement of an ear.
Finally, around 10:00, since there wasn't even a sucking reflex, we did the last resort and I milked out the ewe and we passed a tube through the lamb's mouth into the stomach and used a large syringe to give it some colostrum. We left him for the night on some hay in a large cardboard box in our mudroom.
Friday morning report: He's still very still; breathing is difficult; although he did pick his head up a bit. Ann and I tube-fed him again this morning. The mother looks a little better this morning and passed some afterbirth during the night. It's going to be touch and go for the baby...
First photo: Lionel checking out the new housemate.
Second photo: Ann toweling him off after his warm water bath.
Third photo: Meg warming him up and trying to stimulate some muscle movement.