The Necessity of Crutching Sheep Properly

We’ve had lambs in our kitchen since Wednesday. The mother, who – if you’re following the saga – never produced any milk, passed the afterbirth just fine. The lambs were physically born perfectly normally with no assistance. The ewe, Margaret, has been eating, drinking, and passing bodily fluids/stool in a normal fashion.

When Scott went out to do the morning chores, he noticed a really foul smell coming from the stall Margaret was in. We thought it might be because we had yet to clean the stall out that the babies had been born in, even though I did remove the afterbirth from it. So, I cleaned out the other stall, moved the ewes, and then walked into the original (smelly) stall. The smell was gone. 

So I walked over to Margaret in the other stall, and noticed that her bum, which was perfectly normal looking before, was black. Her wool was matted and gross, and she had junk all over her rear. I realized that what I failed to do – in the midst of feeding, cleaning, caring for, etc., the lambs – was to make sure we had crutched Margaret properly before she lambed.

This year, I have learned more lessons that I care to admit. It’s slightly embarrassing, but necessary nonetheless. So, we soaked her in a huge trough of hot water, chopped off all the yucky wool, and then took a look. I had thought the smell was indicating some sort of really awful infection, but it turns out it was just … gross alert… rotting afterbirth caught in her excessively long wool.

I will now reiterate: CRUTCH YOUR SHEEP PRIOR TO LAMBING. Save yourself worry, trouble, and above all, save the poor ewe this awful process.

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