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Lambs and Hypothermia

Did you know that sheep are ruminants?  Ruminants are animals that produce body heat from digestion.  This is why adult sheep can survive subzero temperatures with very little protection and their thick wooly coat.  However, newborns don't have this capability at birth.

Because a newborn lambs digestive system isn't completely developed they can very easily be subject to hypothermia.  In fact, it is one of the leading causes of death in lambs who are born in the winter and early spring months.

My very first lambing experience had hypothermia disaster written all over it.  We lived at 10,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado and that particular February night the temperature dipped to sub zero.  I had stayed at the barn with my dad for as long as I could handle the cold but eventually was sent in.  I missed the big event, but luckily my dad had stayed behind and took fast action.  I woke up to my lamb Wildflower in our bathroom being snug as a bug in a rug as my grandmother would say!  I will never forget the moment I saw her, and still think about the heroics that kept her alive.

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