No – I’ve not had any plastic surgery. We built birthing jugs for the ewes and the goat doe too.
Last year we had only two pregnant ewes and not much idea of when they were due. The first lambed out in our pasture (taking us completely by surprise) while the second did alert me in the early stages of labor and I was able to put her in a small pen where she delivered overnight without need of assistance. We were lucky that neither had problems and that the lambs were born hearty and able to survive being plopped out into the snow.
Not wanting to count on luck again, Saturday afternoon we built two 8′ long, 4′ wide lambing jugs so that when the time comes, the ewe can be in a separate, private space, the lamb will have shelter from the elements, and there is power and light nearby should we need to assist.
They don’t need to be fancy to be functional, so we looked around the homestead for materials to use. We planned to build under our horse shelter, which has a north wall and a good roof. Having already built hay walls under the shelter, the obvious place to build the jugs was in the same area, making use of some of the existing walls. All we needed then, were the long walls of the jugs, and two gates. To start, I cut a livestock panel in half, giving me two 8′ lengths.
The two 8′ walls standing attached (at the far end) to the hay wall by wire:
Note: I have not yet filled the hay wall at the head of the jugs but once I have, the ewes will be able to eat all the hay they want while confined.
We then pounded in a couple of t-posts to secure the gate end of the panels.
Next we looked for a way to make the bottom portion of the walls solid to provide better wind protection for the newborns. My first thought was to use cardboard since it is easily obtained and should stay pretty dry there under the shelter. However HWA had a better idea. We recently replaced a shower in the house and were left with the old shower panels. They proved to be perfect for the job! Working carefully, we drilled small holes in the panels to secure them to the livestock panels with wire, and they provided an instant, solid wind break. The ewes will be able to see over the panels to talk to their flock mates, while the lambs will have a safe and secure area to spend their first 48-72 hours.
Last we made the gates. Using another panel, we carefully measured and cut sections to fit. The northernmost gate was secured to the north wall of the livestock shelter using screw eyes and wire, while the other gate was secured with wire directly to the t-post. The gate openings will be secured using some chain we have left over from another project, and a carabiner.
All that remains now is to refill the hay wall that heads the jugs. HWA suggested that a sheet of plywood on top of the front half of the jugs will provide further weather protection for the lambs since a roof closer to their height will retain heat better than the current 12′ roof. We still have a few weeks before they are due so there is time to add that.