The first lambs are born on the coldest day of the new year. It was -10 degrees when I got up this morning and left for the shed to check on the ewes. Sure enough, there was a set of twins born. They were healthy and perky, but the cold can really take a toll on these scrawny lil creatures if they don't get up quickly and nurse.
This afternoon this ewe had her twins outdoors. The temperature had gone up to 0 degrees by then, but since her lambs were born outside on the snow they needed to be warmed. I brought them into the barn, set them on a heat mat and then turned on the Nipco heater and tried to warm up the lambs. Hubs went up to check on them later on and found that there was no milk in in one side of the mama's bag so we made some replacement milk (whole milk and corn syrup) and I found a small bag of frozen sheep milk left over from last year that we added to the replacement milk and fed them both by bottle. By this evening, the lambs were very perky and happy. It's amazing what a little warm colostrum and milk can do in the belly of a cold, wet lamb. It totally turns ON their system. We may end up taking one of the lambs away from this ewe due to the spoiled side and lack of milk. If so, we will give the lamb to a ewe who births just one single lamb.
Just so you know, in our herd it is very common to have twins. Last year we had three sets of triplets and one set of quads. We gave the "extra" lambs to ewes with single lambs and the remaining lambs were raised by their mothers. Otherwise the weaker lambs would end up starving. Usually, two lambs per mama ewe is the maximum number for the lambs to be healthy and well fed.
As I type, there is no wind and it is very still outside. The thermometer reads a freezing -14 degrees. Tonight we will get up every couple of hours to go up to the shed to check on the sheep. All the ewes are in the shed; the straw on the floor and their body heat will keep it quite cozy. Still, the ground is very cold and wet newborn lambs will chill down quickly in these temperatures. This is precisely why I prefer May lambing.