Spring Lambs Sleeping in Thick Wool
First week of Spring: Spring may bring images of green grass, blue skies and frolicking lambs. Spring also brings rain, wind storms, sleet and blizzards. In Wisconsin, the weather often swings from below zero at night to above 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. This week (mid March and the first week of spring) our weather ranged from -20 degrees F at night and a sunny 30 degrees F during the day. Wet, cold weather is especially difficult for lambs under 3 days old as they are generally not mature enough to regulate their temperature efficiently. Their core body temperature may drop too low to digest milk for growth and energy. Additional warmth needs to be provided by warming boxes, heat lights or east facing, sunny windows. Well fed, warm lambs exhibit a classic, full body stretch (pictured in the photo on the right) upon rising from sleep.
These two lambs have chosen a warm place to nest and preserve their body heat. The ewe appears proud to have them snuggled in her wool. Ewes often have creative methods to keep their newborns dry and warm during inclement weather. It is not unusual to see a mom protect her lambs from the wind by positioning her body so her babies are snuggled into a hay bale. One Romney ewe dug a lamb size cave in a sand mound to protect her fat, fed baby from a sudden spring storm.
The ewe, in the photo below, calls her lambs from the pack. They recognize each other’s voice and scent. Only her twins will be allowed at her udder.