Freckles the Thief!

Lets go over what happened Thursday morning…

Joel and I wake up and run out to the sheep…we see Freckles licking two beautiful babies , Crow chasing down Freya’s babies and trying to convince them they are hers, and Windy in the early stages of labor. Crow had wetness and blood on her legs so I figured her water had broken and that her babies would come at any time.

Joel jugged Windy and Crow and I went to class. Joel texted me about two hours later and said Freckles had had another baby!

Crow was in the jug all of yesterday and I didn’t see her straining or acting at all like she was going into labor. I checked her today and she was obviously no longer pregnant, obviously had given birth, and her milk was flowing. Then we realized what had happened!

Crow, a first time mom had given birth to twins, Freckles who was about to give birth stole them, and then Crow decided to try to steal Freya’s babies! What a mess! We tried to give Crow back her babies but she wanted nothing to do with them, and they were very upset being away from Freckles.

Freckles isn’t producing enough milk for three so I am supplementing the smallest two. The down side is that feeding them is a lot of work. The upside is that it should make them quite friendly.

Here is a picture of Crow’s babies sire, Little Country Beetlejuice, he is owned and bred by Juliann Budd.

DSC01309 (800x600)

And here are his lambs Little Country Crow x Little County Beetlejuice. You can really see the resemblance! You can see the thief and her single ram lamb in the background!


I feel kinda stupid for not realizing what was going on earlier! But so much was going on at one time! Of course no one lambed today…and probably five more will lamb tomorrow…

Lambing is hard work, but so worth it! Now to go feed my little lambs a supplemental bottle and curse Freckles and her thieving ways!




7 responses to “Freckles the Thief!

  1. Hahahahaha! Crazy ewes. I am having fun assisting with births too! I milked a lady today! True story! lol.

  2. While you were describing that I had clown car music playing in my head. πŸ™‚ Don’t forget I can help on Wednesdays if you need.

  3. Dear Emancipation Acres,

    Enjoy your posts immensely – they are so entertaining and educational, well written and full of delight and love. Thanks. I have a question about the whole lambing debacle πŸ˜‰ Why weren’t the just-about-to lamb ewes in jugs? Can you only put them in a jug after they have lambed? You are so attentive to your animals needs; it is interesting to follow you through an error in judgment – part of farming and life. But it would be interesting to know just a touch more about where you went wrong so we could all learn the lesson.

    Thanks again for sharing, and for approaching your farm the way you do. Hope to get up your way some day.




    • Hi Danny!
      Thanks for the kind words about the blog, I really appreciate them! You are more than welcome to come visit some time if you want:)

      I certainly am not perfect, and Joel and I did make a mistake on identifying the correct mother of our two little yuglet(Shetland word for their eye patches) lambs but I don’t think pre-jugging them would have been a good answer for our particular situation(although perhaps it could be for someone else in a different situation with different equipment and barns.). Both Freckles and Crow were first time mothers, and like many first time mothers didn’t get things exactly right the first time. Freckles has already been pre-sold(she will be sold when her lambs are weaned no sooner than three months from now) to a lady looking to run a few sheep with her horses that her grandchildren will enjoy. She doesn’t plan to bred the sheep so this will likely be Freckles first and only lamb. Crow will be given another chance but if she tries to steal/abandons her babies again she will not be bred again. Shetlands have a very good reputation of being good mothers that lamb easily. Breeding sheep that can’t live up to this standard I think will negatively impact the Shetland breed. With that said, first time mothers often don’t get everything right the first time so Crow will get another chance. Conventional agricultural people often breed animals that are horrible mothers because they happen to produce meaty offspring or have good confirmation. With pigs conventional ag people place them in farrowing crates instead of breeding for pigs that don’t squish their babies. Those pigs would die on pasture. Broadbreasted turkeys need to be artificially inseminated because their breast meat is so large they can not naturally mate. I jug as a precaution, so I can keep an eye on the lambs, make sure than the mothers and babies bond, but I don’t want to start pre-jugging all my sheep and perhaps be breeding baby stealing genetics without even realizing it. With that said I have friends who have bred lamb stealers because they had excellent confirmation/fabulous wool so its a personal decision each Shepard makes and different situations and different sheep might result in different decisions.

      According to the handy lamb calculator I have the first day we should have expected lambs to be born was April 7th! So all these other lambs have come a little early. Sheep have a twenty day cycle in which they can get pregnant for 24-48 hours for so. So, depending on when my sheep got pregnant I might have some that don’t lamb for another twenty days!

      I know people that do pre-jug but they all (to the best of my knowledge) have smaller flocks and a nice barn that allows the sheep to still have nose to nose contact. This year we had 17 pregnant ewes which would be a lot to pre-jug especially considering that their exact due date is unknown. It would not be possible in our barn to make that many jugs. To a certain extent you can watch the udder but my ewe Dawn has a huge udder right now, and had had it for about a week and she still hasn’t had her lambs. She did the same thing last year, her udder was huge for two weeks before she lambed. On the other hand Freckles had a tiny udder when her ram was born and then her milk came in a few hours after she gave birth. So watching the udder can be a clue, but not always.

      The last thing is that our welfare agency Animal Welfare Approved only allows jugging for a a maximum of 72 hours. This is because sheep are very social and a sheep alone in a jug will become very stressed. Nose to nose contact with other sheep in nearby jugs would surely help keep them calm, but this is not allowed by our certification agency and we don’t have enough wall space to build 17 jugs so it isn’t a viable option for us, although it might be for others. Those that check for pregnancy by untrasound might have a more exact due date, but this is usually only done in very large flocks as it is expensive.

      Thanks so much for your question! I hope this answered it! πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks, Erica! That was a great trip through the shepherd’s thinking on one small part of lambing. I knew it wouldn’t be simple, but…! Appreciate your laying it all out.

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