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Tuesday 25 April 2017

Hold the mint sauce . . . frail lamb brought back to life by warming gently in an oven

Suzanna Crampton in the kitchen of her home in Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny, with her lamb Teeny Tiny, which she is keeping warm in the oven, watched by her dogs, Big Fella and Pepper. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Suzanna Crampton in the kitchen of her home in Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny, with her lamb Teeny Tiny, which she is keeping warm in the oven, watched by her dogs, Big Fella and Pepper. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

A newborn lamb was brought back from near-death by sheep farmer Suzanna Crampton after she placed him in an oven.

Suzanna, from Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny, said that the lamb - named Teeny Tiny - weighs less than a pound. He and his unnamed twin brother were born in very cold conditions on Monday night.

Suzanna Crampton with Teeny Tiny in the bottom of the oven, watched by her dogs Big Fella (left) and Pepper, and with Teeny’s big brother in a cage beside her. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Suzanna Crampton with Teeny Tiny in the bottom of the oven, watched by her dogs Big Fella (left) and Pepper, and with Teeny’s big brother in a cage beside her. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

"The mother [sheep] had twins - the big one was standing up and demanding all the attention," Suzanna said. "She had managed to clean off Teeny Tiny but by the time I discovered him he was hypothermic. Monday night was bitterly cold, when I reached him, the inside of his mouth was freezing cold and I thought the worst."

Suzanna said that while the top right section of the Aga oven was good for baking or roasting and the top left for slow cooking, the bottom left worked a treat for warming cold lambs.

"The lower left-hand section of the Aga is like a hot box. I put him inside and he was resuscitated," she told the Irish Independent.

"I've done it loads. I had a lamb named Aggie the Aga lamb that nearly died and would have if it wasn't for the Aga. It's great for hatching chicks, too. It's like a ready-to-go incubator. You have to turn the eggs, but it works fantastically."

Suzanne feeds the little mite. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Suzanne feeds the little mite. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Suzanna, who has been sheep farming for almost 20 years, uses some unusual methods to help the frailer members of her flock, including a tip she picked up from a vet on social media.

"You need a huge needle and syringe and inject warm, sugary water directly into the abdominal cavity. It heats the lamb inside out," she said.

Suzanna was lambing as an apprentice in the Wicklow/Carlow region in 1980s. She went to agricultural school in Vermont in the US and worked on training horses before returning to Ireland almost 20 years ago.

She now has more than 60 rams, ewes and lambs in total - as well as three alpacas who are like "flock guards" - and produces wool for her company Zwartbles Ireland. But for the moment, all focus is on Teeny Tiny and nursing him back to health.

"I weighed his bigger brother and he's 5lb. Teeny Tiny is barely 1lb," she said. "We just hope that he lives, it's still dicey. He is not on his legs yet but we hope that he stands. I have taken him out of the Aga and I have him wrapped up in a wool blanket now with a heat lamp."

Her pet dogs and cats are also getting used to seeing lambs in the kitchen.

"My alsatian dog is good at cleaning the lambs. We as humans would warm up the lamb with a blanket but the process of licking the lamb is a huge stimulus," she said.

"I love and trust my dogs, but I would never leave them alone with the newborn lambs," she added. "The dogs have a wolf instinct and I would not trust them with it."

Irish Independent

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