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Stay on a farm during lambing live

April 6, 2023
April 6, 2023 - Stay on a farm during lambing live
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Stay on a farm during lambing live

It’s April, Spring is in the air and the signs of new life on the farm are everywhere. It's such a joy for guests to stay on a farm during lambing time.

I need a blog about lambing, says Felicity!!

No peace for the wicked - so here I sit at 11 am in the morning, half asleep with my sixth mug of strong coffee on my desk letting you all know what occurs on the farm during lambing!

lambing time on a farm

Fireworks on Bonfire Night!!

As our hill farm is over 1,000ft above sea level we plan lambing to hopefully coincide with the better spring weather, new grass growth and lighter nights. To achieve this we keep the rams away from the ewes during the summer and let them together in early November.

Did you know the gestation period of a sheep is 152 days ?

Keeping things simple - if we remember, remember the 5th of November and let the rams out then, the first little lambs arrive on April Fool's Day!

It's a pretty reliable system! However in 2023,  we had two sets of triplets appear a couple of days before the due date (being triplets was probably the reason for being early).

Why do sheep have different coloured bottoms?

You will often see sheep with different coloured rear ends. Why is that, I hear you ask?

At mating time, the rams wear a harness with a coloured crayon strapped on their underside. When they mount the sheep to mate, the crayon leaves a mark. The crayon colours are changed over a period of weeks which helps us work out which sheep will give birth first. Later in pregnancy, the sheep are scanned to see how many lambs they are carrying. This helps us manage the flock and keep an extra eye on those with triplets.

Lambing live on a farm

Some farmers lamb out in the field, but I prefer to lamb indoors, so that everything is to hand and the sheep are easy to catch if they need assistance. But this in itself brings a new danger of two giving birth near each other at the same time. This can result in the lambs being mis-mothered, which can lead to rejection. To avoid this, we pen the sheep individually as they lamb to keep them safe and separated

Assisting the birth of a lamb

Hopefully a sheep will give birth on its own to two strong healthy lambs. Twins is the perfect number as sheep have just two teats.

However sometimes help is needed. A lamb is normally born in the “diving position” - front feet and nose first - but sometimes the front legs just need straightening out to assist the birth. That’s a quick and easy job.

sheep with 3 lambsOccasionally one leg will get tucked back and left behind. In this case, you need to hook the leg forward by getting your finger around the back of the leg and easing it out so that it can be born normally. If this leg back position is not corrected soon enough, the ewe will try to push the lamb out and it will get stuck. Then its quite difficult to correct, the head and leg need to be eased back inside the ewe so that access can be made to the troublesome leg (Felicity says that's just made every mother's eyes water!).

More of a tricky problem is when both legs are tucked back. If not discovered in the early stages, the lambs head comes out first, which is very hard to push back inside, especially when the ewe is pushing against you with frequent contractions. It's not easy and you need to act quickly to save the lamb.

Sometimes a lamb may come backwards and be born back legs first. Although these can be born without assistance, sometimes they need a gentle pull. The important thing with a backwards lamb is to make sure its airways are clear of fluid and membrane, as the direction of birth does not naturally clear the nose.

The first breath

As soon as the lamb is born, we check it is breathing properly. If not, there are a couple of little tricks we use to clear the airways. Placing your finger and thumb around the snout just below the eyes, squeezing quite hard while sliding them down off the nose helps. If this doesn't work you can poke a small piece of hay or straw up the nostril. This makes the lamb sneeze, clearing the airways and encouraging a deep breath. Also rubbing the lamb and moving the front leg in a circular motion can help to get it going.

Once born, the ewe starts licking the lamb to clear the placenta and dry the new-born baby. Survival instincts kick in and within minutes the lambs are moving and trying to stand up; its incredible to watch.

Counting sheep

It's extremely important that the lambs get the first milk as soon as possible, as it is full of creamy colostrum. We keep a careful eye on the new-born lambs and if necessary can hand feed them with colostrum. Once we are happy they are feeding and strong, we number the mother and lambs with the same number so we can identify them as a family in case any should get separated.

sheep feeding lamb

Adoption

Sadly even with all the care and attention, not all lambs survive the birth, and we can be left with a new mum with an udder full of milk and no baby to feed. Also some sheep have 3 or even 4 lambs which is too many as sheep have just two teats, and often the weakest lamb gets pushed out. So if possible we will foster a triplet on to the new lambless mother. This needs to be done as soon after birth as possible.

To encourage a mum to adopt another’s lamb, we rub the afterbirth from the new mum all over the spare lamb to make it smell like her own baby. Another trick is to spray the nose of the mum and the body of the lamb with a strong scented spray such as deodorant or a special musk spray. It's not always successful, so we sometime end up bottle feeding the "kade"  lambs.

bottle feeding a lamb

Running on caffeine

So with all this going on 24 hrs a day, normal life with the farm and family is thrown into turmoil with everything fitting in around sheep.

The day starts at about 6am with a quick look to see if any sheep are lambing or need assistance - only then can I have a mug of coffee! If all is well, other jobs and breakfast can happen as normal but obviously any sheep that need help gets it straight away.

During the morning, sheep in pens will be fed and watered and all newer lambs are checked to see they have a belly full of milk and are strong and healthy. The rest of the sheep in the shed will be fed and it’s a good time while they eat to get a good look at them all to see if any show the early signs of lambing.

Every hour or two throughout the day, someone will check the sheep and assist where necessary and bottle feed any kade lambs. This goes on all day with other jobs, office work and attention to guests fitting in around sheep work.

stay on a farm during lambing live

This two hour cycle continues until about midnight and if all is quiet I will go to bed setting the alarm for 3am. Bleary eyed and reluctantly, I get up, dressed, and go out to check. Sometime (hopefully) all is quiet, and I can be back in bed in 5 minutes warming my feet on Felicity, but sometime there can be sheep in need of attention and I can be outside for an hour or two.

Then at 6am it starts again. This goes on at least 3 weeks, which reflects the reproductive cycle of sheep, then it slows down to a trickle of late lambers. Not having the pressure of lots lambing at the same time, these are  not so difficult to manage. After about 4 weeks we can stop the 3am spot and get some decent sleep. I am fortunate that just occasionally Felicity or Elliot will take the midnight or even the 3 am slot and I can get a bit more shut eye.

The reward for all this is seeing a field full of gambolling lambs growing well and running around in groups like unruly teenagers.

You will have seen on our posts that not all spare lambs from triplets get fostered, and these end up being fed by bottle and become very tame. These are the ones that as our guests you have the chance to feed and stroke, as they love nothing more than being with  humans. You can come and stay on our farm during lambing live and enjoy watching the little lambs gambolling in the paddock.

It's important to know though that if you're pregnant, you should not be around sheep as they're giving birth, or in contact with new-born lambs. You'd be fine staying on the farm - just make sure anyone staying with you who has been down for a cuddle with the little ones gives their hands a good wash and changes their clothes afterwards.

kade lambs

So if you happen to catch me having a quick nap during the day in April, sheep are the reason!!

David


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  • star rating  We stayed for a night in one of the cabins . The cabin was spotless and very well equipped , lots of extra touches were added like fresh eggs and... read more

    Ajtravels14
    February 3, 2020

    star rating  For the second year running, we have had a great family holiday at Hoe Grange. We had one cabin for the week, for two sisters and our elderly wheelchair-using... read more

    EJYork2013
    June 25, 2019

    star rating  Recently spent a week in "Pinder" and had a lovely time. The location is stunning - the site is nestled in a beautiful valley on the edge of the Peaks... read more

    Peachey167
    July 16, 2019
  • star rating  Felicity and David made us feel very welcome right from our booking. The pods are well equipped and spotlessly clean. The area is very peaceful with great views and we... read more

    Adventurer_12121
    January 30, 2020

    star rating  lovely surroundings real farm country with chickens paying you a visit nice decking area to chill at the end of the day accommodation very good plenty to do nearby... read more

    vincent s
    July 28, 2019

    star rating  Second visit to the accessible holiday cabins at Hoe Grange. David and Felicity were as helpful and friendly as ever. We had a welcome pack of freshly baked bread, butter,... read more

    Charlotte M
    August 7, 2019
  • star rating  What a lovely weekend away! We stayed in the lovely gypsy caravan, which was a wonderful and really unique experience. We took along our two horses, who also had a... read more

    rachelthomas2015
    June 18, 2019

    star rating  We have just returned from a short stay in one of the pods on site at Hoe Grange Holidays. We couldn’t recommend them enough. The pod has everything you could... read more

    Catboy86
    August 17, 2019

    star rating  We had a lovely time staying in one of the incredibly well equipped pods. I bought my pony along and we had some great rides on the high peak trail.... read more

    plopster1
    June 7, 2019
  • star rating  On arriving at Hoe Grange in a downpour, we doubted if we’d made the right decision to go glamping, but after the warm welcome from David and a quick tour,... read more

    karenmD4738KD
    June 25, 2019

    star rating  It's been three years since we last visited but once we arrived it certainly didn't feel like it!
    We stayed in Hipley again which had had a refurbished wet... read more

    ElizabethA717
    September 21, 2019

    star rating  We stayed in Skylark, one of the two glamping pods available at Hoe Grange in February 2020.

    Felicity & David welcomed us when we arrived to show us around... read more

    HelenLCarter
    February 6, 2020
  • star rating  Stayed last week, from 6th to 13th September in the log cabin called Hipley. This was amazing, it was our first visit but certainly not our last. Gold standard disability... read more

    548julie
    September 14, 2019

    star rating  We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    David H
    October 25, 2019

    star rating  We stayed in Pinder cabin and had a lovely stay, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, nice and warm after cold days out. The children loved meeting the animals and... read more

    Tiggywinkle15
    November 5, 2019
  • star rating  Lovely place to holiday near to interesting locations and easy access to the High Peak trail and Carsington Water. Part of a working farm with fresh produce to enjoy during... read more

    Angie B
    August 3, 2019

    star rating  We stayed in the Skylark pod last October (2018) and had a lovely time. There was homemade, rustic goods (bread, biscuits etc) when we arrived. Felicity and David who run... read more

    KBarry
    September 15, 2019

    star rating  We've just returned from our second visit to Hoe Grange. The suggested riding routes with stunning scenery were enjoyed by my daughter and I while the menfolk were delighted with... read more

    Jdrichie12
    July 11, 2019
  • star rating  We stayed in Rainster cabin for a long weekend 6 th to 9 th September. This was my 5 th visit to the amazing Hoe Grange. I had visited before... read more

    Jan Horsman J
    September 17, 2019

    star rating  Myself and my sister travelled to Costa Rica and Panama via Viva Holidays Ltd. The holiday was exceptional and one to be treasured forever. Andrew at Viva Holidays... read more

    Paula C
    July 4, 2019

    star rating  We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    dghiggs61
    October 25, 2019
  • star rating  Arrived and was shown to our pod, fantastic location and the pod was very good indeed plus we had home made bread and milk and tea and coffee. A... read more

    mickvfr
    July 28, 2019

    star rating  What can I say?
    Absolutely superb!
    We have just returned from a family weekend staying in Daisybank cabin and the Skylark pod.
    It was our first trip away with my... read more

    Wheelieuser
    June 13, 2019

    star rating  We spent four nights at Hoe Grange and had a lovely time. The location is fantastic and right next to the High Peak Trail. The cabin was very clean and... read more

    Big_Al_0000
    July 16, 2019
  • star rating  What a wonderful find. As our first experience of needing accessible accommodation we could not have wished for better. Beautiful well equipped lodges in lovely surroundings. We stayed in both... read more

    L9943KBlesleym
    April 3, 2020

    star rating  We wanted a complete break and some peace and quiet and this was perfect. The caravan was secluded with beautiful views over the countryside. Everything was spotlessly clean and well... read more

    joanne B
    June 4, 2019

    star rating  A beautiful place to stay! Amazingly run family business! Everyone were very welcoming, friendly and cozy! The skylark pod we stayed in was very clean, cozy and well equipped! The... read more

    sophiee249
    January 2, 2020
  • star rating  Loved every minute of our stay, and so did the family and friends that came to stay. Excellent facilities in our cosy Hipley log cabin. By far the best... read more

    krimpenijssel
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    star rating  Another great holiday at Hoe Grange - such a great place for us all to holiday as a family - this time with a baby, a 3 yr old, a... read more

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