Our first two lambs of the year were to my top producer Pansy - a healthy boy and girl. She is a pro at mothering, but didn't seem to know how to cope with the livestock guardian dog (LGD) who had kidnapped her two babies. The LGD LOVED them so much and felt protective ... must protect these little things from the big sheep. The guardians have to learn that babies and adults are on the same time and are the same creature. She didn't pick up on that last year.
After I checked back later, one of the lambs was calling out from where it was neatly curled on the ground and snuggled up with the LGD. I move the dog out of the goat and sheep winter pen, and it was a joyous reunion of ewe and lambs. They were hungry and happy to be with her again. The next day, I let the LGD back in the yard and I think the lambs avoided her and were able to stay with their mom.
We a couple of days later, we had a lamb that was becoming a bottle baby as his over-eagerness to eat made him ineffective at feeding off his mom. The LGD fussed over him and the lamb liked it. He liked it so much that he transferred his bond from his real mom to the dog. They curl up and sleep together. The new mom-dog grooms him and sleeps with him. They are very content together, which has helped her love all the lambs and kids.
This LGD of ours has not been bred before and has no experience raising puppies, but she gets the mothering instincts. She tries to adopt all the babies, though she does favor lambs over kids. Another bottle baby (Dandelion from last week's post) whole-heartedly rejects her love.
We have seen two very weird things. First thing was once when we went out to check on animals without coming to feed babies, the lamb wanted to eat. He started nosing the LGD, which she tolerated very calmly. Then, she stepped over him as though to let him nurse. What! That's how our dogs feed their puppies once they can stand. Totally weird. What was even weirder is that she had hickeys on her stomach from the lamb trying to nurse. We've all seen it happen at different times. I guess she loves the sheep and goat more, but it just doesn't seem right.
Just this past week, we've seen the lamb standing contently with his new mom while she fits her mouth around the head, neck, or shoulders of the lamb. Yes, like she's going to swallow him whole like a snake. I've stopped to watch - she's very careful and gentle. I think she's trying out the fit of his body in her mouth so she can pick him up like a puppy and carry him around. I haven't seen her actually pick him up, but I've seen other mother dogs do this. Again, totally weird and alarming when we first see it.
Perhaps this happens on every farm, but it's a first for us ... and still is just weird.
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.