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Notes From a Bag Inspector

February 9, 2010

Lambing is starting very soon. Knowing when we first turned the ram in with the ewes, we’ve calculated that tomorrow is the first day we should expect lambs to be born. Given that, I spent a lot of time today looking at the girls. More specifically, I went around looking at udders.

Corn (left) is not as 'bagged up' as Casey (right)

The farm slang term for udder is ‘bag.’ When a ewe gets close to lambing, her bag swells and gets really warm to the touch. This is called ‘bagging up.’ My goal today was to see if anyone is really bagged up enough to give birth in the next 24 hours.

It's harder to tell when the black ewes are close to lambing, because their bags are so dark

After checking far and wide, I have a list of which ewes I think are close to lambing. Leading the pack are Dumond, Oleta, and Gilcrease. I’d put even money on Dumond, since her mother was the first ewe to lamb (give birth) the past two years. I think that competitive streak might run in the family. However, I think we’re still a day or two away. With my luck, they’ll wait until it snows on Thursday.

I have no idea how Oleta got that cedar twig to stick to her bag!

Once we start lambing, things get really busy for about 4 weeks. Stay tuned–this is the best time of the year! I’m off to check more bags…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Margery permalink
    July 5, 2010 5:11 pm

    My East Friesians always bag up a full month before they deliver, unlike the Suffolk mix I had that bagged up just before lambing. I’ve always had to rely on counting days rather than the udder for the milkers. Is there another clue?

    • July 5, 2010 6:18 pm

      Margery, they sure do start bagging up early, but I’ve found that their bags don’t get full and ‘tight’ until 24 hrs or so before delivery. On the white ewes, their udders will turn a ‘bubble gum’ shade of pink when they are close. No such luck for the black-skinned girls, though 🙂 Thanks for the comments!

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