Monday, March 21, 2016

Basic Lambing Supplies

It is officially spring! 

And right on cue our ewes decided it was time to share their cute lambs! On Friday, March 11th, our Finn/Icelandic ewe, Sally, surprised us with twin ram lambs.

I had just checked her that morning and didn't see anything that looked like labor but by that afternoon there were lambs on the ground. She lambed without assistance and is being a great mother. We made a small jug with some fencing and kept her and her babies together for a few days to help ensure they would bond. It also helps keep the other ewes from headbutting the lambs until they are a bit more sure on their feet.

The next morning (Saturday) during chores I realized Sprinkles, one of our dairy ewes, was in labor. She is a first-timer and we watched her closely. She was pushing with hooves and nose sticking out for over an hour. At that point I helped a little and helped ease the lamb out. She may have been able to do it herself but it seemed like she was getting exhausted and I didn't want to risk the lamb. She had one large ram lamb. Sprinkles was a little more aloof about having a baby and it wasn't until I wiped some birthing fluids on her nose and pointed her in the direction of her lamb that she started to clean him off. She has been a great mother since then.

Stay tuned! On Wednesday, I'll post a video of Sprinkles giving birth!

On Tuesday we had almost the exact same scenario with our other dairy ewe, Doughnut. I gave minor assistance and she birthed a single ewe lamb. Doughnut needed a little push to get into the swing of mothering but is now doing a great job. 

It has been interesting to see the differences of our dairy ewes vs our Icelandics. I love that our dairy ewes are super docile and will produce greater quantities of milk but in every other way I prefer our Icelandics. Our Icelandic ewes are great mothers, birth easily, very protective of their lambs, they have beautiful wool, and are super efficient on feed. We will have to see how things go this year and we might try to keep the half dairy half Icelandic ewe lamb around and see how she preforms. 

Here are some basic supplies I like to have on hand during lambing.


The average length is around 147 days although Icelandics tend to be closer to 143. Just like with people though, it isn't exact and I like to think of it as a due week instead of a due date. I start checking for signs of impending labor a couple of weeks in advance. If you are trying to feel lamb movement in the belly try on the ewe's right side. Generally, the rumen is on the left and the lambs are on the right. 

This year I only had the date that I introduced the ram to go on. I didn't actually see any breeding taking place. Next year I plan on using a marking crayon or raddle powder do I have a more exact breeding date. We are still waiting on our two purebred Icelandic ewes to lamb and I suspect they won't lamb until closer to April. Most sheep are seasonal breeders but Icelandics tend to be even more so.

Basic Lambing Supplies

These are items that are nice to have on hand. This isn't everything you could possibly need but it is a good start. 
  • Selenium/Vitamin E paste. We have found making sure the ewe gets plenty of selenium in the weeks leading up to lambing makes for an easier delivery.
  • Nutri-Drench for Sheep and Lambs. We give this to the ewe after birthing to give her a boost.
  • Paper towels and clean towels
  • Bulb syringe
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Clean scissors in case you need to cut the cord.
  • Iodine to dip the cord in.
  • Heat lamp if you are lambing in cold weather
  • Bottle in case you need to feed lamb
  • Colostrum or colostrum replacer. I have some frozen from the year before and I replace every year.
  • Head lamp or flashlight
  • O.B. Gloves
  • Lubricant in case you have to go in vaginally to check or pull lambs. I use coconut oil since I already have that on hand.
  • Rope to assist in pulling difficult lambs

Tune in on Wednesday for a video of Sprinkles giving birth!

For more information check out these sites:

P.S. This post may be linked up with the following blog hops: Monday- The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Tuesday- The Homestead Blog HopTuesdays with a Twist, Wednesday- The Homemaking PartyHomestead Blog Hop, Thursday- Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Friday- From the Farm HopAwesome Life Friday, Saturday- Simply Natural Saturdays.

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  *** I am not a doctor or a veterinarian and the statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please do not ask me for medical advice.***


  1. Thank you for this post. I plan on having heritage breed sheep soon. I need every bit of help and advice beforehand so I will know what to expect. I raised cows and have some knowledge about them, but I know every breed is different, with vastly different requirements. I pulled a calf once, I expect that sheep would be a bit easier!!!

    1. Wow, I can't imagine pulling a calf! Some day I would like to have a cow but their size can be intimidating. I love our Icelandics! Good luck on your sheep adventure!

  2. I love Spring because it means lambs! It is a busy time of year but the most rewarding when raising sheep.
    Thank you for sharing your post at our simple homestead hop :)