It was 9pm on a Sunday evening when my phone rang. When I picked up the phone, I could hear the stress in her voice, it sounded like she needed help.
This wonderful woman went on to explain that she saw an ad on Facebook saying that there was a lamb that was in need of rescue. A breeder had this lamb and it was born with several malformations and that the breeder did not have the time or the resources to care for it so she was fiving it away before it died.
The caller lived right down the street for the farm that had the little lamb. So, she promptly went and picked up the lamb that was just 25 hours old. Once she got little Lamby home, she started to give her formula. After a little while though, she realized that Lamby was so much more than she could handle. That is when she contacted us. After talking to her for a few minutes she was going to load up little Lamby and make the almost 2 hour drive to get her to me.
I hurried up and set up a crate in my office with some nice comfy blankets to keep her nice and toasty warm. I also made some phone calls to get her some fresh goats milk for her as it is more easily digested than the powdered formula.
Lamby made her arrival to Whispering Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary at about 11:00 pm. I did not have to look too close to see that something just was not right with her. She has a massive overbite (proganthia superior) which is also known as "Parrot Mouth" and an underbite is called "Monkey Mouth." Both are equally worry some as they cannot properly nurse from the mother and will have difficulty eating from the pasture when they are older. Also noted when I examined her is that her tongue was shorter than it should be and there was a small hole in the roof of her mouth which appeared to be a cleft palate.
In addition, she had a funny odor coming from her. Upon further inspection, where her tail was banded, it was grossly infected. This poor girl had a a bunch of problems, none of which I was going to be able to fix that night. I poured her a bottle and while it was heating, pulled out several different shaped nipples to try. All of the nipples that I had were not cutting it. I did not want her to aspirate the fluids into her lungs so we went very slowly knowing full well that I was going to be up hunting for the proper nipple to her bottles.
After I gave her the bottle, I placed her in the crate with a full belly and she went right to sleep. Fast forward to 4:30 in the morning, it was breakfast time and she was not going to let me forget it. It sounded like a baby crying in my office. I rushed down and we repeated the whole bottle feeding session again. Lamby was initially getting 4 bottles a day, she is now down to two.
This is the typical bottle feeding schedule for lambs.
1-2 day old lambs should receive 4 to 6 ounces 4 times per day.
3-7 day old kids: 8-10 ounces 3 times per day.
1-2 week old kids: 12-14 ounces 3 times per day.
3-6 week old kids: 16-20 ounces 2 times per day.
7-8 week old kids: 20 ounces 2 times per day.
Lamby is thriving. She runs and leaps and jumps and plays with the other animals all day long. She will have to live her entire life with modifications to how and what she eats, frequent weight measurements and vet visits to make sure she is getting proper nutrition and growing accordingly.
The roof of her mouth has been repaired but there is no way to repair the overbite.
Overbites and underbites are quite common in sheep. It is a genetic condition like the more than 30 other genetic conditions known to occur in sheep. Most of these genetic conditions are fatal.
When a sheep is known to have a genetic disorder they are culled at birth or shortly after. Our little Lamby is lucky. She will get to live a long happy life at Whispering Acres.