Monday, December 31, 2007

Dave in my world.

I really enjoyed reading about David Cameron helping to deliver lambs on his neighbour's farm in Oxfordshire in today's Mail on Sunday. Its a pity that he spent only 15 minutes in the lambing shed and that his offer to pull out the lambs himself was not accepted by Julian Tustion. It would have been a lovely Xmas story. It would also have been a great experience for David. I've sorted out many thousands of difficult births, of both cows and sheep, during my lifetime, and it never stopped being satisfying - especially when things became complicated.

Of course, it doesn't always turn out well, depending what the problem is. In this case it seems to have been a case of the lamb being wrongly presented. Normally the lamb would emerge a bit like a human diving into a swimming pool - its front legs and head coming together. Even then problems can arise if the lamb is a 'single' and is just too large. If the lamb is presented with just one front leg and its head, it can be pulled out, as long as the other front leg is trailing backwards, and not bent with its knee coming forwards. If the front legs are presented without the head at all, the lamb has to go back and the head retrieved. Sometimes, especially if the ewe has been striving for a long time, the head can be difficult to reach. Now if the head is coming on its own, there can be real problems, because the head swells up quickly and it can be the devil of a job to push it back - but back its got to go. Otherwise it would have to be cut off, which is what I've done if the lamb has died. We also have to be careful when there are two legs presented to ensure that its not the back legs coming first. I always check by feeling for the lambs tail. Lambs born backwards are fine if the birth is assisted (and therefore quick). Unassisted , the lamb can sometimes be out, but its nose and mouth still within the ewe, thus being suffocated. The worst cases of all are when the lamb is coming back first - no legs or head. Problem here is that it takes an experienced eye to notice that the ewe is actually trying to 'lamb' at all. There is nothing in sight and if intervention is not sufficiently early, the lamb will die within the womb. Of course, everything becomes much more complicated if there are two or three lambs and you cannot be sure which legs and head belong to which lamb - especially if one (or two) are coming forwards and one (or two) are coming backwards at the same time. And it becomes a deeply unpleasant task for the shepherd if the lambs have been dead inside the ewe for a few days. Because they rot and come out in pieces. This can make the ewe rather sickly and she will need antibiotics. It is a pity that David Cameron did not have a week to spend on his neighbour's farm. He would have learned so much about how to successfully increase the size of his flock.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Spot the party:

Party A -> head and front legs coming first with back legs trailing.

Party B -> has one or two cabinet members coming forwards with one or two coming backwards.

Party C -> needs its head cut off so that AM PB can work on retuning his party to common sense Liberal policies that make no sense to Welsh voters.

Party D -> put lambing ahead of his party.

frankie said...

Happy New Year Glyn. May 2008 be a very successful one politically.

Take care of your health and continue to enjoy your grand-daughter. Incidentally - Mick Bates is a grandfather of a daughter today too! So you now have something in common!


frankie said...

I mean grandfather of a GRANDdaughter!

Blame the wine!

Glyn Davies said...

Frankie - lucky Mick Bates. There can be no better Xmas present! And I hope his hip op goes well. He's not such a bad bloke - really.

Anonymous said...

lambing sounds a very messy business. i didnt know so many things could go wrong. rather you than me.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

He's into hip-'op too? Wow ... hip-hop with prospective Radio One XJ Mike Bates. Sort of has a "ringtuit".

Glyn Davies said...

anon - lambing is an all consuming and very messy business. I 'lambed' my first ewe when I was about 5 years old. Its like riding a bike in that its a skill once learned is never forgotten.

Christopher - Can't make a joke about a hip operation. Its a serious procedure and I wish Mick well.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

At least he is getting it, anyone know the waiting list for this op in Cardiff? I heard it was very lengthy, much longer than the wait Rhodri Morgan had or his heart op. Glyn, health care is a serious matter, particularly for elderly Brits who don't have access to affordable health care outside the UK, even though the UK provides free treatment to any resident in the UK, a reciprocal relationship does not apply re: UK-USA despite the alleged "special relationship". When you live or see people living with no medical insurance, who don't go to the doctors because they can't afford it and die because they did not know they had high-blood pressure - sorry, but I kind of become numb to stories about the poor state of the NHS, the NHS is a wonderful thing, not having to worry about the cost of health care is a wonderful thing.

Glyn Davies said...

christopher - related point. A group of four people I know (I know one of them anyway) are going to France to have new hip replacements provided privately. The cost covers the operation, recuperation and travelling, and is still hugely cheaper than having the operation done in the UK.