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Ewe Surprises Farmer With 5 Healthy Lambs
Cherhill, Alberta sheep producers Ailie Beaudry and Dave Gingras got a little more than they bargained for recently when, routinely checking their farm's "maternity ward", they discovered one of their ewes with five strong, healthy new lambs.
The 8-year-old ewe, of half Finnish Landrace and half Rambouillet breeding, weighs between 160 and 180 lbs. The five lambs weighed 42 lbs. total (the largest weighed 11 lbs. and the smallest 7 lbs.) so the offspring equalled at least 23 percent of the ewe's own body weight.
"That's like having a 100-lb. woman give birth to three babies weighing 8 1/3 lbs. each. The fact that five lambs were born is not as outstanding as the fact that all five are alive and doing well. The high birth weights and vigor are indicative of good management," says Wray Whitmore, a sheep specialist with the Alberta agriculture department.
Beaudry says it took from 3 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. for the quintuplets to be born. "They were all strong and jumped right up after birth. For the ewe to take all five is pretty incredible. Usually they reject some. She has an exceptional amount of milk and will have enough to feed them all for a while but we'll have to supplement them after that," she says.
Beaudry and Gingras bought the productive mother as a cull ewe. "She has turned out to be quite a bargain. Finnish Landrace are a multiple birth sheep with purebred ewes averaging 350 to 450 percent production. Quadruplets are not uncommon," Beaudry says.
The Guinness Book of World Records officially records the most Iambs born live from a single ewe as 7 (septuplets).

Reprinted courtesy Town & Country, Westlock, Alberta.

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1988 - Volume #12, Issue #5