July 10, 2010

How Can I Tell When My Ewes Will Lamb?

My 2 ewes are looking very close to lambing. Their udders have swollen nicely. How can I tell how close they are? We bought them pregnant. 

Indicators vary from breed to breed and individual ewe to ewe,  esp. depending upon age.  But generally, once a ewe starts making an udder the event isn't too far off.  A day or two before the birth, you should notice some subtle changes in the ewe's body and the udder.  The lambs "drop", and the ewe becomes saggier looking around the hips.  The tail head appears to move up slightly.  The udder will become full, taught, and somewhat "shiney" (assuming it isn't covered with wool!); and you will be able to express a little bit of milk.
The actual day of lambing, the ewe will probably separate herself from the flock.  She'll probably refuse feed, and may stand by herself staring off into space or start "nesting".
All these signs are somewhat subtle, and seeing them may take some experience and knowledge of your individual sheep.