Lambing is our most important and busiest time of year and takes place between March and April every year. Two weeks prior to lambing, pregnant ewes are brought into a paddock beside the lambing pens so we can check them regularly.
The ewes give birth in the paddock before being moved into individual lambing pens. These straw filled pens provide a warm, safe place for ewe and lamb out of the elements and away from foxes. It also provides us with an opportunity to make sure mum and offspring are doing well.
The lambs are inspected and their umbilical cords sprayed with an organically approved healing solution that helps the cord dry quickly and reduces the chance of bacterial infection. Each ewe's udder is checked to make sure she is producing milk and it can be easily sucked by the lamb from the teat.
The first 24 hours of the lamb's life are the most important. During this time, and for this time only, its mother's milk is very rich in life-giving antibodies and nutrients. This milk is called colostrum and appears thicker and slightly yellowy than normal milk. If a lamb does not get colostrum during its first 24 hours of life, its chances of survival are very low.
The time they remain in the lambing pens depends on the size of the lamb and the mothering skills of the ewe. Single lambs and twins are commonly put out on fresh pasture after 24 hours, but not before the lambs are fit and able to feed themselves easily. Ewes with triplets or small lambs are kept in for longer.
All Manx Loaghtan lambs are born jet black. After a couple of weeks, they lose this distinctive colour and their wool turns brown.