How to Support your Ewe or Doe after birthing their Lambs or Kids.
Everyone focuses so hard on the newborns, I know they are just so fragile and adorable and those first 72 hours are the biggest danger zone in neonatal losses. However we must remember that mom has done the hard work of carrying, delivering those little ones.
Here is three ways to help out your mom.
Use a Jug!
Its something that the books will talk about and yet I see so many new homesteaders photos and video’s showing those momma’s and newborns in with yearlings, in with other expecting to be mom’s.
Please! If you can get her moved while in labour great, if not.. no worries.. just move her and the babies to the jug after the event itself. The jug gives mom a private resting area, its small enough that she can’t lose her babies, its small enough that she “should” not be able to favorite one lamb or kid over the others.. You can easily see how much water she is drinking, how much hay she is eating and if there is discharge, its her’s.. if there is bleeding, its her’s.. you can start her on light milk graining if you do that and you will know that she is the one getting it all.. This does not need to be a big space and it does not need to be made in place.. you can make lots of mobile little jugs that only come out as needed during birthing, while draft free is best, if the barn is solid.. you can use hog panels. This will also protect the babies from the head butts of the other momma’s to be and also prevent higher ranking still expecting females from “stealing” lower ranked females babies!
Warm Water with Molasses in it
At a Min, Twice a day you should be bringing out room temp fresh warm water from the house with 1 tsp of Black Strap molasses per Gallon for the first 48 hours. IF you want you can also add a touch of salt or some folks love to add maple syrup to it. Some like to add a tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar. I use Apple Cider Vinegar in the water during breeding season but not during lambing.
BOSS or Milking Ration.
If you feed grain, now is the time to slowly start your girl on her milking ration, this can be complete sheep ration, or this can be a pre-made milking ration from your feed store, or this can be a home-made blend.
IF you truly do not want to feed grains.. then PLEASE consider giving your girl a scoop of BOSS, Black Oil Sunflower Seeds as a boost.
I like to give them a bit of herbal support on their milking ration for the first 72 hours.
My Blend is a mix of Dried
- Raspberry Leaves
- Nettle Leaves
- Dried Clover Blooms
- Wild Violet Green/Flower Mix
- Apple Mint
- Horseradish Greens
The percent change based on the easy or difficultly of the birth’s, how much bleeding the ewe or doe is doing afterwards, how much milk she has in.
Having said that if you just want it simple.. do equal parts Raspberry leaves, Nettle and Horseradish Greens and then do half the amount of lovage, clover blooms and Wild Violet Green mix.. combine them together and use a cup 2x a day on the feed ration for the first 48 hours and if needed, same on the 3rd.
The girls will clean it up, I have never had any that don’t want it personally.. If you don’t feed anything but hay, then take your herbs and steep them to make a warm tea with them that can be given that way.
The perk of all these herbs, other then the violets, is that they are massive easy growers that love to spread and drying all the extra’s for winter health uses is a ideally way to not waste these amazing plants.