“Bummer” Lambs….What’s That?
Over the weekend we had our family birthday supper for our February birthdays. At the conclusion, I began to feed the four bummer lambs. Somehow a picture was taken and I had to post it. A number of people asked, “What is a ‘bummer’?”
A bummer lamb is one that is raised entirely or partially away from a mother. They come from a variety of situations.
Most often, bummers are the smallest lamb or lambs resulting from a set of triplets or quadruplets. Most ewes are able to raise twins without an issue and a few even have enough milk for triplets, if they are supplemented with grain.
There are also times, specifically with ewe lambs and older ewes that may have lost a half, when the ewe is unable to produce enough milk for two lambs and so a twin may become a bummer.
On rare occasion, we may lose a ewe, in which case, all of her lambs become bummers.
When a lamb becomes a bummer, if we are experiencing cold weather, they spend a day or two at the house, on the back porch, getting fed by bottle four to five times a day. Then they get moved to a special pen in the barn with a self feeding milk bucket. The bucket has eight nipples and is filled daily, with a full pen or every other day with a few.
Some bummers are able to be grafted, accepted by another ewe, other than their mom. Ideally, we can take the afterbirth from a new single lamb and wrap it on the bummer, so they smell like the newborn. If done immediately upon parturition, success rates are fairly high.
Another opportunity for the bummer occurs when we lose a lamb, to coyotes, lions or on rare occasion, pneumonia. If that occurs and we have a bummer near the same size, we will skin the dead lamb and put the hide on the bummer, like a coat. This tends to work well with the Hampshires and the crossbreds, but a 50:50 shot with the Suffolks.
So, for those who were wondering what a bummer was….. :-)