Of Broody Hens and Others

sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
I am having a daily fight with broody hens....clogging up the nest boxes, breaking eggs and generally being a bit too 'mumsy' in general.

Lambing is over....or is it?

Some of you may remember my talking about my oldest ewe,Longface, who had 4 lambs two years back and 3 last year. (Estimated lifetimes lambs =26). Last year (aged 10 or more) her milk failed.....so last autumn she was retired and kept with the lambs (well away from the rams).

The story of this old girl is that she was bought from a neighbour along with a batch of 'old ewes with a season left in them' (essentially 6-7 years old). After producing triplets, neighbour came round and marked those 'for slaughter' who had no teeth/bad udders/sunken backs etc. Longface had the red mark. She stood by my side and rubbed her head on me...."I don't think so".....so,clipping shears on fleece with red mark,and, hey presto green mark. She went on to have 3 lambs the next year, 4 the year after, 3 last year and now is about 10-11.

The rams walked past old Longface and her friends when they were being taken out from the breeding field in November. Longface was by the fence,clearly in season , so we pushed the rams on and over to a field at least two fields distant from Longface with a "Not this year,beautiful". So the winter came and went and I have been busy with lambing. I have seen the old girl less often than usual.

Two weeks back, old Longface was using her 'begging bleat' from a distant field(reserved for when she wants digestives or custard creams). Having not really seen her much for a couple of weeks , and feeling guilty, over I went with a packet. "WHAT????" says I when I saw her....always fat,she was, well ,VERY fat

I escorted her to the field near the barn where she has been with my bottle lambs since, growing daily.She clearly had different ideas about being 'put out to pasture' and must have had a visit from a neighbour's ram. Now I am watching and waiting.....not knowing how many and when.

image

So...broody hens can be tough, broody old ewes also.

Sandie

Comments

  • 275wright275wright Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    Wow Sandie, there doesn't look to be any mistake there. Bless her. I remember hearing the story about Longface. What a legend. Waiting patiently for news :D
  • sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited April 2014
    Absolutely no doubt.
    I don't think she has long to go as she doesn't have an 'old lady's udder' any more and when I feel under her vast belly (she doesn't mind at all) I can feel kicking.
    Had I have been aware I would have been giving her supplementary feed for some weeks now. In spite of this, though, she is doing very nicely and seems very contented.
    The old girl has a twinkle in her eye!

    Sandie
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    I often wonder how old Longface is getting on. Thanks for the lovely background story Sandie.

    Had a pretty rotten experience myself this week when we witnessed a local farmers ewe in trouble with her lamb. To cut a long story short the farmer didn't seem too bothered about letting her die since the lamb was very stuck and had died (either before or during the process). To be fair he had tried in vain to deliver it but could only manage to get the head out and not the feet first. It was a pitiful sight to see. I was concerned that there might at the very least be hope for a possible further live lamb inside her but that would just be too much hassle wouldn't it:rolleyes:
    I said to my OH, I bet Sandie would have known what to do, and would have stayed with that ewe until the bitter end. And I bet you'd have never let her get to that stage without noticing either. Your flock just don't know how lucky they are.

    Hx
  • 275wright275wright Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    How awful Helen. Did he just let her die then without getting a vet.
  • sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited April 2014
    Oh Helen, that is so horrible.
    I had quite a few 'stuck' lambs this year (big lamb/small mum, twins plaited around each other, dead and infected lambs etc), but I pulled them all out and gave mum Metacam and several days of antibiotics. If there had been any that were in the state you witnessed,then I would have called the vet or taken her to the vet (who will deal immediately with such problems).
    I don't know how anyone could treat other life forms in that fashion.
    I don't even think that it is because men have no concept of the pain of childbirth.

    I DO hope that nobody else comes across such horror stories,

    Sandie
  • Littlechick Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    That is a gorgeous photo Sandie. I love to hear about Longface, such a survivor. She looks really large.. can you have a guess at how many lambs she has? Is there any likely to be any difficulty for her given her age now? She is one of the 'special' ones. I am sure we will all be keeping fingers crossed for her when she lambs.

    Helen, there is so much unnecessary brutality towards animals in the world... you would think it was down to lack of education wouldn't you? I think sometimes it is inherent in the character of the person involved. Easy to be mean to animals isn't it? :(
  • sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited April 2014
    I'm thinking 3,but could be 2 or 4......I don't think for a moment that she is having a single lamb.
    She looks enormous, so I'm guessing within a week. Her udder doesn't look quite ready yet, but some udders just 'blossom' overnight.
    Whatever, it is likely that her milk will fail, so I am going to try to leave her with two lambs (assuming that she has live lambs) and start them on the bottle just after birth in addition to mum feeding them, so that there is an easy option if her milk fails totally. It is a real nightmare to transfer lambs who have suckled from a ewe onto the bottle at a few weeks of age. I had a ewe die with two 3 week old lambs a year or two back. At this stage they are heavily dependent on milk. Every time that I needed to feed them I would have to chase them and it took about an hour to get any amount of milk into them.The last chapter of this story is happy, though, as I still have Gwladys and Phyllis (yes, my sheep have worse names than my chickens) and they have lambed themselves this year.
    Interesting times ahead, methinks.

    In some farmers there seems to be an utter lack of respect for the livestock they keep.

    When we first had sheep (on a knowledge base of very little) I had assumed them to be rather boring ,skittish and intellectually dull. Having had sheep for some years now, I would say that they have very varied characters, can be very placid tolerant and co-operative, and are very far from dense.


    Sandie
  • doormouse Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    Wow - Longface seems to have lived her whole life with a philosophy of 'against all odds' I wish you all luck!...and don't go chasing anything with that ankle!:) :D M

    As for some other farmers - it seems like they've lost sight of the animals as living, feeling beings - just treating them as commodities:mad: :confused: M
  • 275wright275wright Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    I love my old sheep. At the minute they are all in their house waiting for their twice yearly check up from the sheep dentist who is due in half an hour. Pampered or what :D
  • sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited April 2014
    OOOOOh,that really is pampered....the sheep dentist. Old Longface has no teeth to talk of, but seems to be able to maintain a very high BMI (she had a fat roll at the rump end of her tail before Xmas....so being in lamb has probably slimmed her down nicely).

    I couldn't catch a cold at the moment,Marie....so chasing is not something I plan to do.

    Just back from our shed from giving some lambs Coccidida treatment,others Heptavac and all treats.

    My bottle lambs ,Jimmi and Jason are currently eating any plant of note on my garden (already made to look like a giant dust-bath by the chooks) and with no chance of the garden being dug this side of the summer.

    Don't you just love the critters?

    Sandie
  • 275wright275wright Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    Well they all had their teeth check. Two of the girls just needed a bit of rasping but poor old Harvey who has had a few tooth problems in the past needed another back one taken out as it was a bit loose.

    Because of his age she didn't want to sedate him so he had to have it just pulled out with pliers without anything. I was a bit worried as it took him a while to recover from the stress of it all but he's back out now with his girls right as rain with a shot of painkiller.
  • monkeymummy Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    Sandie - Keeping everything crossed here for Longface, wishing her a happy birth.

    Helen - that's really sad, but I guess maybe he saw her as a ££ rather than a living animal? (No excuses for him, just trying to guess what he thought)

    I have a naughty Winnie who after a week of broodiness has been locked in the concrete outhouse (with loads of food and water) for 24 hours. The others are bemused by her behaviour and are looking rather lost without their boss!
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    Sadly many farmers do just see sheep as a commodity. The farmer in question just dismissed the suggestion of the vet, stating that it would cost £90:(
    The poor ewe was just marched off the 'the lambing shed' but clearly did not want to go; she died there shortly after and we offered to help to see if there were any more lambs etc. (if it were me I'd have had that scalpel out). He didn't want to know - pretty much slammed the door in our faces:(
    It's so hard to deal with that attitude, but it goes on a lot around here.
  • 275wright275wright Senior Member
    edited April 2014
    That's horrible Helen, poor poor sheep. This time of year it seems that every where you look there are happy mums and lambs but you don't know what goes on behind the scenes and the suffering of the ones who didn't make it.:(
  • sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited May 2014
    Helen, if that horrid farmer was talking purely on money grounds,a ewe and two lambs would be worth the £90.....just sounds like he did not feel her life was worth anything and her suffering immaterial.

    I just found one of my ewes, Caitlin, who lost a lamb a few days back, lying in the mud. Initially I thought she was dead,but she moved her head a little when I called her. OH then managed to get her to her feet and move her to the shed. She has a hugely swollen back leg....doesn't seem to be broken, but I'm guessing she has fallen somewhere. She is now cleaned up and in the shed with a good dose of Metacam for her pain and will see the vet if she doesn't settle.

    Mrs Grey will spend tonight in the shed as she is still resolutely broody in spite of cold tiles for a bed overnight. She, too, is alpha hen and the others can't believe that they don't have to make way for her when she wants to feed.

    Meanwhile....Longface....wider,still, and wider.

    image

    Of course i can get through this gap....well. just about!

    Sandie
  • Littlechick Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    Literally gasped when I saw how wide she is now.
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    wow:D
    bless her shes huge ......and no idea who the daddy is?
    hope everything goes smoothly for her
    xxkath
  • sandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited May 2014
    I have asked her, Kath....but she admits to NOTHING....just looks at me with a twinkle in the eyes of her grey old muzzle.

    She is currently waddling around the garden eating bits of this and that and looking very smug.

    Sandie
  • solarbatssolarbats Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    She is a saucy old lady:D
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