This time of year has always been one of wait and worry here at Heartsong Hollow Farm. We have set the table, put up the decorations but have no idea if the party is going to be amazing or if Aunt Edna and Cousin Bill are going to argue. If you can't guess, I'm talking lambing. The ewes have been in with the chosen ram and now tiny, sweet little bundles should be on their way.
It takes around 147 days to gestate a lamb. Miniature cheviot sheep need just enough feed to build baby without causing others problems. Approximately 70% of fetal lamb growth happens in the last 40 days. Extra feed is needed to support not only baby or babies but udder development in mom as well. This is important as colostrum intake is vital to health and survival of newborn lambs. Proper nutrition in ewes will help prevent the occurrence of ketosis or pregnancy toxemia. Here is a very nice link to learn more about ketosis in sheep: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/agriculture/pregnancy-toxemia-ketosis-in-ewes-and-does-1-630/ .
There is a fine dance between too little and too much, a Goldielocks scenario if you will. Lambs on either end of the spectrum will have a hard time. Ewes that have gained too little or too much will also suffer. As a shepherd, I spend most of my time waiting, watching and adjusting. The outcome to be seen in 147 days. When ewes start to bag up and paw at the ground and I hope I have made the right adjustments. Here's hoping Aunt Edna just sits in the corner and smiles.