Lambs Final Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries

Newborn lambs

22nd March 2018

Goodheart Animal Sanctuary has taken in its first rescued lambs.

Yesterday lunchtime, Dave, our Sanctuary Manager, took a call from a concerned member of the public. She was worried about a lamb she’d seen, and wasn’t sure what to do. Dave ran through some basics; is the lamb lethargic; can you get close; is its mouth warm or cold?

The snow here, like in many parts of the country, has been heavy. Yesterday was icy cold and several of the surrounding roads were blocked by snowdrifts. Sheep at our sanctuary have access to a cosy barn, which the team have insulated with extra straw. Elsewhere, sheep and lambs are out in this weather. And for many, the struggle to keep sheltered and warm is just too much. 

By mid-afternoon, Dave was heading over to where the lamb had been found. Sanctuary volunteer Chris went with him. Between them were years of caring for young animals, particularly orphaned lambs.

An hour later, they arrived back at the sanctuary with not one but two tiny lambs - both boys. The smallest and most fragile still had his shrivelled umbilical cord attached. Both are incredibly vulnerable and we don’t know how old they are. Both had also been born at a time of freezing winds and snowdrifts, and had somehow survived so far.

The lambs arrived in a cardboard box

When we collected the lambs, we found them huddled in a cardboard box lined with newspaper. Chris nursed them on her lap as they headed back to the sanctuary. Upon arrival, the kitchen at Goodheart was swiftly turned into an intensive care area and Dave and Chris set about trying to nourish them with replacement milk. The larger of the two took the bottle right away, guzzling it down then going on to explore the kitchen (before promptly falling asleep in the arms of a carer). But the smallest is worrying us all. He was not enthusiastic about the bottle, despite Dave and Chris mimicking a mother sheep in a bid to encourage him to drink. He did take some though. A long night awaited Dave as he awoke every two hours to provide vital, regular feeds. 

Bottle feeding the lambs

What must these two lambs be thinking? How did they become separated from their mothers? The bond between a ewe and her lamb is very strong. They constantly call to each other and the mother’s warm milk will nourish the lamb each time it suckles. 

The irony of all this is that these two lambs were likely at the bottom of the pile and would not have stood a chance of surviving. Now they are with us, they do stand a chance. And if they make it, they will live out their lives in our care. They will never be separated from their friends. They will have access to a sheltered barn, veterinary care, good food – and they will never have to face that journey to the abattoir.

As Chris said, as she introduced the bottle to one of the lambs, helping steady him on his spindly legs: “Once you’ve hand raised a lamb, you’ll never eat lamb again”. Sadly, over 15 million sheep are slaughtered each year in the UK. This includes elderly ewes and lambs like these. 

Today, Dave has managed to get both lambs through the night, but the smallest is still a worry to us all. We pray he has a fighting spirit.

We’ll keep you posted.