The Dorset breed is known for being good mothers to their lambs. Because of that fact, we have never had to bottle-raise a dorset lamb. We once had to bottle raise three Icelandic mix lambs whose mother either died or didn't have enough milk. We eventually gave them away to a homeschooling family for their children to raise. But...this rarely happens with Dorsets.
A week ago, Friday, April 16, Charlie checked a ewe before bedtime that was in labor and had probably been in labor for quite a while. He helped her deliver a huge 16 pound lamb. The lamb is a Dorset/Southdown Cross. Most lambs weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. She seemed to be doing well on Saturday when this picture was taken.
She died on Sunday morning. We began bottle feeding that day. Bottle feeding a lamb is a "bittersweet" task. "Bitter" because it takes so much time out of your day to be committed to feeding a lamb four times a day (at the beginning) and "Sweet" because it is such a good feeling to see that lamb grow and become attached to you. Yes, our lamb thinks we are his mother. He follows us around the barnyard and whenever he sees us out in the yard, he begins crying. Instead of the usual "baa", this one seems to cry "maa". Sounds like "MOMMMMM!".
These are some shots of the lamb last night that I took before we let him out to feed him. I promise I took about 25 shots through the gate and only 3 came out. He was soooo excited he just could not be still!
This is him five minutes later being totally satisfied.
We will be bottle feeding this lamb for another month at least. Stop by whenever you have a chance and we would be glad to share the duties.