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Saturday 21 July 2018

Sextuplets spring a surprise in Athenry

TECHNICIAN and proud midwife Henry Walsh with the Belclare ewe and her six lambs he helped deliver at the Teagasc campus in Athenry. Photo; Ray Ryan.
TECHNICIAN and proud midwife Henry Walsh with the Belclare ewe and her six lambs he helped deliver at the Teagasc campus in Athenry. Photo; Ray Ryan.

Jacqueline Hogge

SPRING has sprung a historic delivery in Athenry with the arrival of six healthy lambs to a Belclare ewe at the Teagasc campus on the outskirts of the town.

Teagasc technician Henry Walsh delivered the lambs and is still in shock at the fact all six, three male and three female, have arrived hale and hearty.

“We’ve had sextuplets before in other breeds but this is a first for the Belclare ewe and we’re thrilled that both mother and lambs are doing so well,” he said.

“There’s over 70 in the Belclare flock here and we knew from the scans she was carrying six so we’ve been keeping a close eye on her in the past few weeks. She lambed on her due date and this is her third crop, so she’s done remarkably well. She’s a great mother, although she has taken a bit of a dislike to the smallest lamb who was the last to be born.”

The lambs weighed in range from 4.3kg down to 2.4kg and four have been moved to be automatically reared in the artificial feeding unit, where up to 100 lambs can be reared at a time.

“All six were left with her for the first couple of days but we then decided to leave her with two to take care of while we moved the others to the machine, which tube feeds the lambs from a central milk tank.”

TECHNICIAN and proud midwife Henry Walsh with the Belclare ewe and her six lambs he helped deliver at the Teagasc campus in Athenry. Photo; Ray Ryan.
TECHNICIAN and proud midwife Henry Walsh with the Belclare ewe and her six lambs he helped deliver at the Teagasc campus in Athenry. Photo; Ray Ryan.

Cyril McNamara, who has been working in Teagasc for the past 48 years, said he had never seen anything like it before. “I’ve never seen a healthy delivery of six lambs in this breed before and it’s a wonderful reminder of the beauty of nature. Everyone is delighted with their arrival,” he said.

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