Catching Lambs

We catch all new lambs on the pasture as we go through lambing so that we can place a constrictive ring on the tail and testicles, hence docking tails of female and male lambs, and castrating males.  We prefer to do this when the lambs are very young.  It is easier on the lambs and easier on us.  

We use a shepherds crook to catch lambs and if we spy them early enough they are not too difficult to catch but it does take some finesse.  We carry our supplies in a backpack and do what is needed on the ground where we catch.  Single lambs are pretty straightforward, twins are tricky as you need to catch both lambs or else the ewe will take off with the one she has left, giving up on getting the one you're holding onto, back.  Triplets are triple the fun to catch.  Since it's pretty tough to take a selfie when doing this, you get photos of Allen instead. 

It’s best to catch calmly and work quickly, if we rush about after lambs we risk driving the ewe off in a panic causing her to give up on getting her lambs back and disturbing other ewes and lambs in the process.  When the lambs are caught we take a moment to let the ewe know where they are.  The majority of ewes hang around, murmuring, baa-ing and circling in worry.  The more uppity ewes will take off, frantically searching for their lambs and then you have some extra work to put ewe and lambs back together.  Many of our ewes make a quick huffing noise at us, some call loudly and repeatedly, the real calm ones sniff and murmur to their lambs.  The occasional ewe becomes aggressive and shoves you or knocks you with her head. 

We don’t ear tag lambs at this point, instead the lambs receive a paint mark so we know they have been done which saves us trying to catch them again.  The ewe and lambs and any comments are recorded in a pocket size notebook. 

Catching lambs is done morning and evening and once in awhile at midday as well.  During the peak of lambing that can mean thirty to forty times per day.  Today I did thirty lambs.  The bulk of lambs are born in the early morning hours with another surge in the evening.  Of the methods we have tried we find catching on pasture as we go the least stressful for ewe, and lambs, and human.