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Welsh Lamb Roxy Moves Into Home and Life With Dogs

Thanks to i.c.Wales.co.uk for this sweet article. Roxy lamb adapts to dogs life Apr 1 2008 by Liz Shankland, Western Mail Theres an unexpected and...

Joy  |  Apr 1st 2008


Thanks to i.c.Wales.co.uk for this sweet article.

Roxy lamb adapts to dogs life
Apr 1 2008
by Liz Shankland, Western Mail

Theres an unexpected and very demanding new house guest at the smallholding

WHEN your child turns 18 youre supposed to be free of all parental responsibilities, arent you? Well, Josh may have reached his landmark birthday last week, but at almost the same time, I ended up with another baby to look after.

Dotty, my favourite ewe, gave birth to twins. It was quite a relief at first, because last year she had a stillborn and it really was heartbreaking to see her calling to it in vain. Unfortunately, it seems she was so chuffed at delivering her first live lamb that when another arrived, she wasnt interested. While the ram lamb suckled contentedly, his much smaller sister couldnt get a look-in. Every time she tried to feed, Dotty head-butted her away; she kept trying again and again, but there was no way she was going to get a taste of her mothers milk.

As I didnt know when the lambs had been born, the most important thing was to warm the small one up and get some colostrum inside her. It was Easter Monday, but I thought it would be worth trying Kevin, the local feed merchant, just on the off-chance he was open. He wasnt he was off to enjoy an afternoon at the races but he very kindly offered to open up and leave a tin of powdered colostrum outside the shop for me to collect. It was, literally, a lifesaving act.

Bitterly cold outside the weather forecast was wintry showers and the lamb was cold, tired, and weak by the time I got to her. Warming her up under my jacket, I managed to get her to take the bottle. Thank God for that; if she hadnt, Id have had to tube her.

Tubing is a technique that my lecturer Phil Thomas taught me at Pencoed College, but I thankfully havent had to do it since. It involves feeding directly into the stomach by putting a tube down the lambs throat. It can be tricky, and a slight slip the wrong way can mean the tube and the feed ends up in the lambs lungs.

Gerry and I tried the usual ways of trying to help the bonding process. We put the new family in a very small pen with a calf shelter to shield them from the bad weather. The unwanted offspring continued to get a beating. We tried restraining Dotty, but she still wouldnt let the lamb near.

I tried a different approach, squeezing into the calf shelter with Dotty and her lambs and holding her still while the ewe lamb suckled for a few minutes. It was a small victory, getting some of the all-important colostrum into the lamb, but eventually Dotty broke free; when a big strong ewe wants to go, she goes.

Eventually I gave up, resigning myself to the fact that I was going to be a mother again, supplying feeds every couple of hours, round the clock. Just like 18 years ago.

The old puppy crate was brought into the kitchen and filled with dog towels and one of the infrared lamps we use for rearing turkey poults was suspended over it for extra warmth.

I was a bit worried about how the dogs would take to it all; theyre great with livestock and dont chase like many dogs, but having a strange animal in the house and one that gets all the attention could have changed things. I neednt have worried: Stella was immediately protective, even to the point of scrapping with the other dogs when she mistakenly thought they were going to hurt the lamb.She washed its ears, nose, and bottom just like she did with her pups and even took to sleeping in the crate with her.

After the first day she relaxed sufficiently to let Bryn and Gordon get a little closer.

Bryn wasnt that bothered, reacting in exactly the same way as he did with the pups skulking about and avoiding contact. Gordon big and boisterous at 55kg is fascinated and wants to play all the time. The only thing he doesnt like is when the lamb tries to suckle all very confusing.

As this particular lamb isnt destined for the Aga, weve given her a name. The first thing that came to mind was Lamb Shanks, but I thought that was a bit cruel, so weve settled on Roxy, a feisty-sounding name for a feisty little lamb.

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