Sheep diaries: An exposition on bouncing


Next, it was the turn of one of the 'Pohangina Three' (two of whom lost lambs to pneumonia last year [see: Sheep Diaries - the backstory). On 29 August, four days after Fatty gave birth to her triplets, a little white lamb emerged.

Which gives rise to the question, of course, why?

Our ram is a black Wiltshire from Tokomaru (progeny of the black Wiltshires bred at Blackshire Farm in Bunnythorpe). His name, for the record, is 'Blacky'. I was half-expecting that we would get black lambs with bits of white (which we have, but only small bits), or white lambs with bits of black. But the white lambs are just ... white. And given a white mother and a black father, what determines whether a lamb comes out white or black? Genes I guess. We will be tagging our sheep so that we can compare from year to year - whether certain ewes only ever have white lambs and whether others only ever have black ones.

Anyway, the difference between this lamb, being a singleton, and the triplets was immediately evident. This little one was bouncing within 24 hours of his birth. Bouncing suggests a lamb is not only getting enough nutrients from mum's milk to support a growing body, but also a bit extra, useful for, well ... bouncing. In comparison, it took a good three days for Jet and Patch to bounce.

The bouncing also indicated that Bounce's mum was doing a good job, she was a very attentive mother who was meeting all her baby's needs. This was a relief given the double loss of lambs to the Pohangina Three last year. Suggesting too that that was likely the result of environmental factors rather than any failures on the ewes' part.

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