Spring on the Ranch… Wordless Wednesday

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

Bummer Lamb to Replacement Ewe: Transformation Tuesday

Sometimes for one reason or another a baby animal cannot be raised by its mother. When this happens the livestock farmer or rancher will try to put that lamb on another mother, but if that is not possible, that baby then becomes a “bummer”. A bummer is fed several times a day by the livestock farmer or rancher; it will drink milk replacement via a bottle until it becomes big enough to eat solid foods. Naturally, you hope these bummers will grow and flourish. Usually, they don’t grow as well as their counterparts, they can get pot bellies, and they are generally not retained in the herd/flock as a replacement (if they are female).

Last winter (2013) I posted about my Mom feeding a bummer lamb here. When I was home for Christmas (2014) my Mom pointed out one of her replacement ewes to me. She said that this ewe was the bummer lamb that I wrote about last year. That little lamb had grown up and had become a nice little replacement ewe. Good quality feed and genetics can sure make a difference on a bummer joining the flock!

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A bummer lamb to a replacement ewe: A success story!

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Work, life, and everything in between: A photo update

Wow, where have the last six weeks gone? I had intended to do more posts, but couldn’t make the time. So today’s post will fill you in on all of the recent happenings.

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I participated in Christmas in the Country gift exchange with other agricultural bloggers – it was a blast and I look forward to doing it again next (err this) year. I did blog about this, and it can be found in my feed.
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My sister and I were able to get on the same flight west – good times.
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A view of the river, notice the beaver trees?
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My Mom’s sheep started lambing right before we came home, it was fun to see them play and run.
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My Dad and I went coyote hunting (they are a major predator for sheep, goats, and baby calves). One morning all we called in were these curious heifers.
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My sister and I started a little genealogy project for my Dad. We didn’t quite solve the puzzle, but when we finish gathering all of the details I will do a blog post on what we found.
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Many years ago my Grandmother made an Advent calendar for her mother (my Great-Grandma) and my Mom. My Mom uses hers annually, and I now have the one my Great-Grandma had, but it has seen better days and left my sister with out one. So I decided to make one for my sister… and loved it so much I am making one for myself too. It was fun to customize the ornaments to fit them and their interests, and some of the ornaments came off of the original tree my Grandmother made.
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While there wasn’t much Christmas snow, there were some great sunrises, sunsets, and clouds – and if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I love sky shots.
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For New Year’s Eve the Hubs and I cooked up some crab legs. Oh they were tasty! The only problem was we should have bought more 🙂
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I just had my 5th Extension anniversary, and went up for promotion. Our annual reports were also due just a week later… What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
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One of my favorite things about my job is that no two days are the same. In the last couple of weeks I have seen calves grazing corn stalks and I have received a bag of popcorn from our agronomy department – who else gets these perks at their job? Working at a research center is pretty awesome.
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The Hubs and I both had Martin Luther King Day off, so we headed to Kansas City (one of our favorite cities to visit) for a long weekend. We enjoyed the sites, the food, the tours, and the relaxation!

Were your last few weeks as insane as mine? I look forward to things slowing down just a bit!

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

A day in the life of a sheep rancher…Fun Fact Friday

This morning on my drive to the office I called my folks. My Mom was filling me in on the adventures of her lambing. Lambing is what it is called when the ewes (pronounced “you”) have their babies. My Mom has about 70 head of ewes, and a ewe is a female sheep. A ewe can be bred to have babies at eight to 10 months of age. Her gestation length is five months. A baby sheep is called a lamb.

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A set of twins (not the ones I will tell you about) sleeping on a warm straw bed under a heat lamp.

Yesterday a ewe had twins (which is very common for sheep), but they were born outside, and the ewe didn’t clean them off very good (when an animal has babies they lick them to remove all of the embryonic fluid and dry them, while doing this they also “talk” to them by making low noises, which stimulates them to stand and nurse), and the lambs got very cold. So the lambs were taken into the lambing barn and put under heat lamps. It is VERY important for all baby animals to receive the “first milk”, which is called colostrum. Colostrum contains proteins, peptides, and high levels of antibodies (these are the highest in the first milking), which aid in building a strong immune system enabling babies to fight possible infections. A new born baby does not carry antibodies since they do not pass through mother’s bloodstream into the placenta, but the lamb (or any other baby) can get these antibodies in the colostrum!

COLOSTRUM FEEDER Syringe LATEX TUBE
A lamb tuber with a very soft latex tube – used to feed colostrum.

Since the lambs were not yet strong enough to stand and nurse on their own, the ewe was milked out by hand. The lambs were then tubed. In the sheep world, the feeding tube is a large disposable syringe that has a very soft latex tube that is slid down the lamb’s throat, past the esophagus, and into their stomach. This would look very much like a feeding tube that a human would have, but this is not permanent. The colostrum is put into the syringe and then once the tube is in the lamb’s stomach, the milk is dispensed and the tube is removed. This causes them no pain. Ensuring that the colostrum gets into the lamb’s system as soon as possible can mean the difference between life and death! A newborn baby may need to be tubed several times before it is strong enough to stand and nurse on its own. While the mother’s milk is ideal, sometimes a powder replacement is used or colostrum that has come from another ewe can be used ( it can be frozen and slowly thawed for later use).

The lambs didn’t show much improvement after receiving colostrum, so they were taken into the house, yes the house that my parents live in, and put in front of the wood burning fireplace to warm up. This can be a common occurrence for livestock ranchers. Just like people, animals can get chilled to the bone and have a hard time warming up, so a toasty fireplace is a good place to go. We have had many lambs and calves (baby cows) in the house growing up. This is just what you do when a baby has gotten really cold or just isn’t getting off to the start you hoped it would. I can remember several times when we brought calves into the house, and after coming back in when chores were done we have found the calf has gotten up and has been walking around the living room!

Yesterday afternoon the lambs were taken back out and put back into the heat lamp and straw warmed pen with their mom. Additionally, the ewes put off a lot of heat since they have a thick wool coat! My Mom shared they both made it through the night! Yay. Today the lambs will receive help standing and may need assistance in finding the ewe’s teat to nurse, and they may even need to be tubed again just to make sure they are still receiving the nutrients needed to be healthy and out of the danger zone.

Most lambs are born with no problems and never need the extra assistance from us as their caregivers. But if they do need that extra attention we are always there to provide it, both in and out doors!

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A lamb sleeping in its mom’s hay tub!