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A First-Time Mama Acts Like An Old Pro

February 15, 2011

The bond between a newborn lamb and its mother is established almost from the moment the wet lamb hits the ground. A good mother will immediately start licking the lamb to clean it. While she cleans it, she makes soft, almost growling, murmuring sounds. These sounds are the first to imprint on the lamb, and the cleaning and the soft language begins the bonding process. Lambs and mothers know each other by sound first, then by sight. Studies have shown that sheep can remember faces (human faces and sheep faces) for up to two years. And mothers know their lambs by smell. When a lamb is nursing, you’ll see the mama lean down and sniff the baby’s rump. What is she expecting? She is checking to see if the lamb’s poop smells like her milk. This is why when we have to temporarily remove a baby from mama, we always try to feed it mama’s milk, so that when baby comes back, mama will accept it as her own.

Say hello to Yo, short for Yolanda. Yo was a bottle lamb two years ago. She’s 25% Hampshire, 75% dairy, and all mama. You’ll see her exhibit a bunch of these bonding actions in this short clip. I took this video less than an hour after she lambed:

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