Friday 6 May 2011

Lamb bed out

I covered prolapses in the last posting but here we are again on the same vein. Prolapse of the uterus or as we would call it ‘spitting the lamb bed out’.

Believe it or not but I did have a lamb bed this lambing time, tell you...... these sheep tried everything on this year.

I have to say I was half expecting the problem and was on hand immediately to sort it. Lamb beds usually come out due to the sheep having had a difficult lambing, she has put so much effort into getting shot of her lamb that she kicks her womb out after it. A problem more often seen in lambing sheds and which I would often put down to heavy handed lambing of sheep, that pounce and pull tactic - being too quick to get lambs out of ewes and causing more problems than you ought.

This particular ewe was spotted on the first lap of the morning, she was obviously stuck lambing. She appeared striddled a bit of the back legs and put up little of a fight with me managing (on the third attempt) to catch her with my stick on the open hill. The lamb was being hung around the nose end. It’s nose was just protruding along with the toe ends of one foot, the other leg was doubled back upon itself and basically had the lamb jammed in the pelvis of the ewe. The lambs nose was swollen and its tongue was sticking out of its mouth, swollen and purpled up.

I straightened the offending leg and the lamb came out relatively easily, once its head was in the open I checked for signs of life (poke it in the eye and see if there’s a reaction –gently tho!) It was alive – great! Its nose was cleaned off before I resumed pressure on its legs whilst its mother pushed it out.

A habit I have, as I would guess many others do, once the head is free from the inside of the ewe I squeeze the nose between thumb and forefinger in a downwards motion to remove as much mucus from around its nose as is possible, the little blighter is going to take its first gasps and doesn’t want to suck all that goo onto its lungs.

Basically the final stages of the ewe lambing were fairly straight forward but it was obvious she had been having a very difficult time, the ewe gave one last push which saw the whole of the lamb emerge into the outside world as did something else – the lamb bed! Totally different to a prolapse of the cervix, the lamb bed is a bigger, messier more fragile item. Fortunately, quite literally on hand, very little had escaped before I tried to ‘plug the flow’, so to speak. Being the first lap of the morning I had leggings on to keep warm and dry from the dogs, with one hand over the backside the other hand lifted her onto my lap in an attempt to keep everything as clean as possible, then the battle commenced to get everything fitted back in to where it had escaped from, once sorted I tied her in with wool and she gratefully received her lamb and never looked back.

The lamb bed, as already said it the uterus or womb of the ewe. Imagine a big, fat, fleshy, meaty sausage about the length of your forearm which is covered in meaty ‘lumps’ (cotyledons) and it’s hanging out of a sheeps backside – this is the lamb bed.

I say they are far more fragile than your ‘normal’ prolapse, well they are and it is far easier to cause damage when handling a lamb bed. The cotyledons can easily be burst as can the whole object and again it always seems so much wider than the hole from which it escaped. Once again a two handed job, necessitating firm but gentle all round pressure and more often than not with the ewe finding herself standing on her nose.

A lamb bed which has been out for a while can take some cleaning off, it does not have a smooth surface and is far more moist than your ‘normal’ prolapse, it must be dealt with as carefully as is possible. I learnt years ago that a bag of sugar is useful. Strange I know but it helps ‘shrink’ the offending article, have to say tho that it also makes it sticky!

Much bigger and more difficult to handle but can be replaced and has to be replaced properly. If you remove one of your socks by grabbing the top and pulling it down off your foot it will be inside out – this is the case of the lamb bed and so it is not just a matter of pushing it all back in and blocking the exit, you have to make sure it has turned back inside itself. A long arm and a bit of delving is necessary on the hill. In sheds I always make sure there is a long necked wine bottle available, preferably an empty one (easily done!), this can be inserted into the ewes backside and used to ‘iron out the wrinkles’. It is an ideal shape to ensure everything has turned back into itself and is lying right with in the ewe, it also has soft edges so oughtn’t cause any undue damage to the fragile mass it is being poked into.

Once all is sorted it pays to tie the wool, fit a harness or whatever your preferred method is, nine times out of ten though, if the lamb bed has been returned properly to its rightful place I have found they tend to be no more bother, the ewe naturally closes up and keeps her insides where they belong.

Some people will sort recurring prolapses with stitches. A running purses stitch around the sheeps backside shuts the door so to speak and holds everything in. I have never stitched a ewe up, whether because I’m female I don’t know, but the whole idea makes my eyes water and mebbes I’ve just been lucky to date but I have never found myself in the position where that option was my last resort.