Amgueddfa Blog: Lambcam

The St Fagans shepherd, with the first set of quads ever to be born at the museum

Everyone knows that baby animals rule the internet – and this St David’s Day sees the return of #lambcam, a live web feed giving a 24/7 view of all the action in the lambing shed at St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff. The project launched in 2015 and became an instant hit on social media – but underneath the cuteness there’s a serious educational message…

 

 

“#lambcam allowed us to share our expertise in traditional skills with people the world over, as we brought lambing season to the web through a series of articles, events and live camera feeds. In doing so, we tripled the amount of time visitors spent on our website, on average, and increased visitor participation in public debate around Welsh produce, natural resources, animal welfare and agriculture.”    
Sara Huws- Digital Content Officer, National Museum Wales
But hey – never mind about that! BABY LAAAAAAMBS RIGHT???!!!
As well as giving 24 hr access to the lambing shed, #lambcam gives an up to date running total of births on the lamb-o-meter (which comes with an associated health warning – ‘Counting sheep may cause drowsiness!’). There’s also a gallery of video highlights from the shed and regular updates on the progress of the new mums and babies on the Museum’s blog. Visitors will also be able to drop by in person when the farm is open on weekends and during school holidays throughout March. Or, for those would like to get really hands-on, there’s a chance to experience the magic of a full day in the lambing shed on one of the Museum’s new Lambing Experience Day courses.

So whether you’re a social media superstar, wannabe shepherd or a St Fagans frequent flyer, there’s no excuse not to get involved in this year’s baby boom at the Museum.

#lambcam #instalamb @StFagans_Museum

(with apologies to Lord Tennyson)

Our bachelor boys have had a visit to the beauty parlour for a wash and brush up, and now it’s time for them to leave us. As they have been bred from our pedigree flock they must go elsewhere in search of love, so they’re off to market to be sold as stud animals.

Our breeding rams will be going into the field with the ewes at the beginning of October and we’ll be expecting the first lambs to be born at the beginning of March. So look out ladies – here come the boys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another successful lambing season at St Fagans is drawing to a close. We hope you’ve enjoyed watching all the action live on Lambcam along the way. There are still a few ewes left to deliver, as I write this the lamb-o-meter has clocked up 144. We’re on course to beat our target of 150 lambs, and hope to pass 160. That figure includes:

  • 5 sets of triplets
  • One set of quads (our first ever).

There’s been some losses along the way:

  • One set of twins - early miscarriage.
  • One set of twins – stillborn.
  • Four lambs accidentally smothered by their mothers
  • One triplet failed to thrive – died at 2 days old.

We are expecting to finish with two lambs being bottle fed – that’s Herbert, the smallest of the quads, and another lamb whose mother's milk dried up due to mastitis. So until next year, here is a picture of Herbert enthusiastically tucking into his lunch yesterday.

 

Herbert the lamb eating his lunch - with half of it over his face

See you in 2016 Lambcam-ers!

Hello Lambcam-ers - here is the answer to the most frequently asked question of this year's lambing season.

'How can you tell when a sheep is in labour?'

Here are some of the signs that you can look out for:

  • Hiding away quietly in the corner – this behaviour would be to avoid predators in the wild.
  • Licking the lips – a preparation for cleaning the lamb after it is born.
  • Restless standing up and lying down.
  • Pawing at the ground – scratching up a soft ‘nest’ for the lamb to be born into.
  • Visible straining at regular intervals.
  • Visible mucus, water bag or a pair of feet protruding from the ewe’s back end!

And now here's a gratuitously cute picture of St Fagans first ever set of quads. Born last night...

The St Fagans shepherd, with the first set of quads ever to be born at the museum

Watch a view live from the lambing shed to see the action unfold

  • There are currently about 100 breeding ewes in the flock and we expect 150+ lambs.
  • Our ewes are 2 years old the first time they lamb.
  •  The gestation period for a sheep is 5 months:
  1. The ewes come into season in September.
  2. We put our rams in the field in with the girls on 1st October.
  3. Lambing will commence in the first week of March.
  4. We choose this schedule in order to have lambs on show in the fields for Easter.
  •  The pregnant ewes come in from the field just after Christmas for extra care, shelter and food. This is important for strong lamb development.
  • The ewes are all scanned in the New Year and we separate them into two groups:
  1. Those expecting a single lamb in one group.
  2. Those expecting twins or triplets in the other.
  • Normal presentation for a lamb to be born is head and forelegs first. If this is the case then the ewes can normally manage with no assistance. They will sometimes need help if the lamb is particularly big, or if it is coming the wrong way round.
  • Once they have given birth, the ewe and her lambs will be put into a separate pen:
  1. This allows the bonding process to happen.
  2. It prevents the ewes that haven’t lambed yet from overenthusiastically ‘adopting/stealing’ someone else’s baby!
  3. They stay separate for 1–2 days.
  4. Weather permitting, healthy ewes and lambs can go out into the field after 3–5 days.
  •  It is normal for ewes to have blood and mucus around their back ends after giving birth.
  •  It is normal for new babies to sleep a lot – newborn lambs will sleep for 12–16 hours a day.
  • We will probably keep or sell most of the female lambs as pedigree breeding stock, most of the males will go for meat with a few of the best sold as breeding rams.
  •  Lamb on your plate is anything from 4–12 months old.