Do you like my play on the apocalyptic idea of armageddon? Lamb-ageddon is when you have a huge wave of lambs being born; typically on a weekend, late at night, in the middle of a snowstorm/rain/or any other crappy weather. You never have enough jugs (pens) to put the ewes and their lambs in because 15-20 ewes will lamb in 48 hours. Yeah just about every rancher has at least one massive wave of births in a short period of time during their lambing/calving season. It happens with most species of livestock and some other wild animals. For example Wildebeest will commonly cycle so that all of their calves are born in a three week period after the rains come. Why do they do this? Because if they all give birth at once the predators will be overwhelmed and won’t be able to eat as many of the babies. Why do sheep do this? Same reason… except I believe that they do it to overwhelm us! Most livestock animals are seasonally polyestrous which means that they come into heat only one time a year and they generally cycle together, this allows them to have all their babies pretty much at once. Evolutionarily and genetically this is what our animals are programed to do. We as ranchers prepare for this as much as possible.
Now I know that our lamb-ageddon is coming; we have only had one or two ewes lamb a day for the past week. That would be about average if we didn’t have 40 more ewes in the teaching flock that are due to lamb in the next 5 days…. do the math… its not going to be good. On top of the 40 that haven’t lambed we also have another 90 ewes in the Callipyge project due to start lambing on Monday. How am I going to prepare for this? Coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Maybe a little bit of red bull. To be honest there isn’t a whole lot that you can do to prepare… you keep the barn clean, extra feed on hand, and tackle the population explosion head on.
I live for lamb-ageddon. If there is one thing that I am very good at its managing the chaos that emerges when animals are giving birth. I’m the kind of person that thrives in the midst of chaos… it is one of my strong suit… and let me tell you lambing is complete and udder insanity!! Jugs need to be cleaned, lambs tagged, bum lambs fed, ewes fed, and there is always the occasional case of mastitis. Mastitis for those of you that don’t know is an infection of the mammary glands; it can be quite painful and requires antibiotics. Where was I? oh yes, I’m a rockstar at being a sheep birthing coach/nurse/doctor. So lamb-agedon may be exceptionally stressful, cause me to loose a week of sleep, and push me to my limits but I can handle it.