Lambing, foaling, and kidding season has begun and the hills are resounding with the bleats of new and curious babies. Many of these little lives were introduced into the world during the mountain winter storms that struck recently. But amazingly, these brand-new creatures are nonetheless thriving.
The gestation period for goats and sheep is five months, but horses take a full 11 months. The timing of many foals’ births have been meticulously planned by their human guardians.
Renee Beckwith, a breeder of fine thoroughbred horses, explained.
“Thoroughbreds, no matter what day they are born, are all ‘technically’ born on Jan. 1 of that year. For example, our foals that are coming now and through May, the Jockey Club will assign their true dates of birth for registration, but for racing, when January 2018 comes, all of them will be considered 1-year-old. It doesn’t matter if they were born in January 2017 or May 2017, come January 2018 they will be ‘yearlings.’
For her it is very important to try and breed early and to have an early foal so it has a fair chance in the racing business and they are the right age and physically able to do their job.
Many early spring babies are carefully planned. But sometimes the animals surprise everyone.
Tia Osburn was delighted by a tiny baby lamb one morning when she went out to feed her family’s two Suffolk sheep.
“It was quite the shock, we didn’t know she was carrying. She did everything on her own and her little baby was perfect and healthy. It was truly amazing.” The very best kind of surprise.
Jill Holt, who raises Kinder goats, came upon the miracle of quads. Two of her does so far have given birth to four kids at once. Sometimes when this happens one or two are weak and off to a rough start. Time to bring the babies in the house for special treatment.
Holt illustrated, “One of the quads had been shoved out of the way and was a little thin and she got a little cold in today’s weather. I brought her in the house, wrapped her in a towel and put her on a heating pad on low. Never use a higher heat and make sure you monitor – the goal is NOT to cook the baby. A little Karo syrup on your finger applied to the tongue and gums will perk them up and give them enough energy to want to nurse. The Karo syrup is absorbed through the membranes in the mouth, so doesn’t have to be digested to work. She’s now got a full tummy and is watching ‘The Hobbit.’” The things we do for the little ones.
So be sure to look for the lambs, kids and foals when out and about. They are arriving daily and are one of the sure signs that spring is on the way.