Our First Triplets! Finnsheep!

I had been watching Finnsheep ewe Elyna closely for the last week.  She has been walking around the barnyard with her tail sticking out and her udder has been filling.  Her udder grew quite a bit the last two days and I noted that her hipbones had become more prominent – the lambs were positioning themselves for an exit.

Mid-afternoon today, she was pawing at the ground and looking toward her rear end.  Shortly after, I checked on her just as she was starting to push.  Within about 20 minutes she delivered three lambs.  The first was a brown ewe lamb with a white pattern on her face.  Then, in quick succession, two white ram lambs were born.

2010 Finnsheep Elyna's triplets - two ram lambs and a ewe lamb

Compared to Shetlands and Mulesheep, the Finnsheep lambs are leggy, skinny, and scrawny.  I had grabbed my lambing bucket so I had supplies.  I snipped, dipped, stripped and then I waited.  Sip, lambs, sip…  Both of the ram lambs found the teats fairly quickly, but the ewe lamb just cried – and cried.  She was the first born but the smallest.  So tiny and frail.  I gave the lambs each a squirt of Nutri Drench for good measure.  I put my pinky finger in the ewe lamb’s mouth to see how her suck reflex was working.  She didn’t have much desire to suck but she did so – weakly.  I milked some of the colostrum from mama, poured it in a bottle and coaxed the ewe lamb to take some.  She only got about 1/4 ounce but after 15 minutes she perked up a bit.  I helped her to stand and placed her within striking distance of mama’s teat but she didn’t look for the teat.  She walked around a bit and settled down for a nap under the heat lamps.

By this time, her brothers had their first meal and one of them was napping.  The other ram lamb kept crying even though he had eaten quite a bit.  But his eyes are shut.  I checked the eyelids and they look okay – he just can’t open his eyes yet.  Hmm.  This is my first experience with that.  We will see how he is tomorrow.  He certainly is able to find the teat so that is good.

2010 Finnsheep Elyna with her lambs

To my relief, Elyna was paying attention to all three lambs, so I felt comfortable leaving them.  I am going to go check on the new family before I go to sleep and will set my alarm to wake up in the middle of the night.  I may need to give the ewe a bottle.  I will post an update tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

2010 Three Finnsheep lambs totalling 11 pounds. The white lambs are rams and the ewe lamb is brown.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Are they always fraternal twins?

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  2. Congratulations on the triplets Terri! Is Elyna just a yearling too? Sounds like she’s doing a great job. You’re right, they really do look long and skinny compared to Shetland lambs. Good luck with the little girl and the ram lamb’s eyes. The only thing I would think of there is entropion.

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    • Thanks Becky. Yes, Elyna is a yearling Finn and she is doing a great job. She is very attentive to all her lambs. At one point they were all crying at the same time and Elyna turned and just stared at me. Sigh. Sometimes the Shepherdess feels guilty…

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  3. You should try tube feeding(with colostrum from the ewe) a lamb if you can’t get it nursing. Tube feeding is better than bottle feeding as the lamb does not get lazy and want only bottles and it is faster. 2-3 oz. should be enough. Tube feeding is not hard, if you don’t know how I can e-mail instructions to you or there may be a local sheep producer who can show you.

    Good luck with the lambs! The colored ewe lamb is very cute.

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    • Thanks Laura – I appreciate your comment. I have information about tube feeding and I have the supplies. I chose to bottle feed because it would be less invasive. I didn’t know that bottle feeding could lead to a lazy lamb. I won’t be so hesitant to whip out the tube next time.

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  4. I’m curious about the heatlamp you mentioned. I know it was cold out last night, but heat lamps are scary things – is it a normal thing for the Finns to need heat lamps? We’ve had Shetland lambs born in 10-13F degree temps. I tried a heat lamp for one, but it really didn’t help since I couldn’t get low enough for the lamb without overheating the ewe’s wool. Once lambs have nursed and dried off, they can take some really cold temps. Now I just get them out of the wind and let mom do the rest.
    I know a lot of people advocate tube feeding lambs, but I would only do it for one without a suck reflex. I think it’s invasive too. In my experience, giving a newborn a few ounces by bottle to keep their energy up while they search for the milk bar has not led to bottle lambs. In this case though, that little ewe lamb is a prime candidate to become a bottle baby, the poor thing has two big brothers to compete with!

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  5. Posted by Tammy on 04/22/2010 at 10:30 AM

    Hope they all made it. The ewe lamb is a beauty, but she does look a little fragile. I too am amazed at how leggy and skinny they look compared to the little, but usually chunky Shetlands. I usually just do the nutridrench stuff too, esp. when I know I can’t stick around and watch them very long. It seems to give them a little boost. I’ve only had one set of twins so far that were weak when I found them and not wanting to nurse. I milked out the ewe and got a little colostrum in them, plus nutridrench and they finally came out of it. No Shetland bottle babies so far, for which I’m thankful!
    Tammy

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    • Thanks for the comment Tammy. They are all doing okay so far, except the one lamb who doesn’t have his eyes open. I am waiting for a call back from the Vet. He’s like a newborn pup, but he sure knows how to find the milk jug!

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