A battle of wills, part 1

This last lambing season, I ended up with four lambs that got rejected by their mom, or their mom died. Also, two additional rejected lambs showed up, and those were adopted by other mama ewes. Yet one of those adopted lambs fell behind, and it later revealed that the two-teat milk supply was on one side with abundant supply, with the other half barely producing. For just over one month, while the bottle lambs each received their daily five cups of milk replacer, I assumed this fifth one got enough from its adopted mom. But she wasn’t. Normally a lamb like her will not switch to eating from a bottle, but she was showing interest at bottle feeding time. To my surprise, she did like the taste of the milk replacer.

To feed the mama ewe, I moved her to new grass away from my expensive feed reserved for the bottle lambs. So the adoptive family went to our food forest pasture just behind the bottle-feeding area. In between them and the bottle lambs was a wooden panel, with a hole to allow lambs in to eat, but block the mama ewe from entering.

Now that it was time to stop feeding milk, I wanted this struggling baby to get more high-protein grain that I could only buy when I was in Hilo, nearly two hours away. The thief was her huge adoptive brother and he bullied everybody. So in trying to get her to eat grain, I would bring her in, and leave her with the other bottle-fed lambs, only to see her disappear in search of her not helpful “mom.” Try as she might, there was nearly no milk for her since her brother took the favored side each time. Each time I found and fixed her escape to the non-productive mom, she always pushed through somewhere else. First, it was holes created by the wild piglets, then she learned to push up the unfastened fence and go back. That was bad enough, but the most independent boy who got daily milk rations followed her actions. So both were not getting access to their grain rations.

Author: Thema

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