Lambs Piece Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries

Whatever happened to the spring lambs?

For many of us, we’re entering a popular time of year: autumn. Fresh mornings, cosy evenings and crunchy leaves all beckon. And who amongst us doesn’t love an autumn walk?

Whilst out and about in the countryside, many of us will no doubt encounter fields of sheep. Of course, this is no surprise; the UK has one of the largest sheep flocks in Europe. Despite the fact we share our country with around 22 million sheep, we tend not to dwell on their experiences within the farming industry. We see sheep outdoors, seemingly healthy and with plentiful space, and assume they have it pretty good.

Likewise, once Easter has passed and spring has sprung, we don’t think about lambs and where they go after the first few months of life. Unfortunately, at around this time, those beautiful bouncing spring lambs have reached the age at which they’re slaughtered. Although some lambs are slaughtered at just 6 weeks old, most lose their lives between the ages of 3 and 5 months, and very few will live past 6 months of age. This is made all the more disturbing when we consider that healthy sheep can live to well over the age of 10, and many up to 15 years of age. By any stretch of the imagination, the lambs we choose to eat are mere babies. Like any babies, lambs form very strong bonds with their mothers, and recognise the faces, bleats and moods of their friends. In fact, research has shown that sheep are able to remember faces for up to 2 years, and may be as good as humans at spotting faces in a crowd!

In the UK, around 15% of lambs die at birth or soon after owing to causes ranging from birthing complications, disease, exposure and even starvation. Many ewes are also lost during complicated births, and those who spend their lives in a cycle of pregnancy, birth and separation can expect little kindness at the end. Mothers who have outlived their usefulness are typically slaughtered for mutton, usually at less than half of their natural lifespans.

Bottle feeding Shaun

At Goodheart Farm Animal Sanctuary, we have been able to secure safe futures for a number of lambs. Trevor, Mickey and Shaun all came to us in March when the weather was unseasonably cold and much of the country was covered in snow. At just a couple of days old, each was very weak and extremely small. The weather had clearly taken its toll and our new arrivals needed care and attention round-the-clock to ensure their survival in those vital first days and weeks. A little later, tiny Ray came to us under similar circumstances (lambs struggling to survive in harsh weather is not at all uncommon). The 4 boys continued to surprise their carers by gaining strength each day, and now at 6 months old it’s hard to believe our fleecy balls of energy faced such bleak prospects in the beginning.

Ray and Trevor today

Today, our little lamb gang enjoy days full of mischief and friendship. Highly sociable, they’ll bound over with wagging tails looking for a treat or a cuddle, nuzzling in when they’re enjoying a good scratch, and jumping up to demand food or attention (Trevor, we’ll let you off because you’re such a lovable rogue). Mickey, Trevor, Ray, and Shaun will never have to make that journey to the slaughterhouse, and have long lives ahead of them where they will never know suffering or mistreatment. We look forward to the day when this is the case for all farmed animals. Until then, we can all help to reduce this suffering by choosing to eat less meat or by leaving animals off our plate entirely.

By supporting the work of Goodheart Farm Animal Sanctuary, you can ensure the safe, happy futures of these lambs – as well as our many other residents.