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Dead lamb mystery


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Okay I've seen everything now. The last ewe lambed three days ago. The only ewes not lambed are 4 very young last years lambs who were not bred. At least not planned.


This morning when I went out I found a dead lamb..it was still wet..but starting to get stiff. It was perfectly formed and normal size. It was cleaned off. Next to it was a wet spot on the ground. I found no afterbirth..no ewe seemed to be claiming it. Nobody not lambed is bagged up. I caught the ewe lambs and checked them really good. I found no blood or goo on any of the ewes. Had to really look to even see nipples on the ewe lambs. Rechecked the ewe lambs tonite seeing if someone was bagging..nada..


I even checked the ewes with lambs..nothing..I am totally without a clue.


Believe me I must of been a sight running around checking butts!!!

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First off whats a Dolly??


Fellow Shepherd: (I like that..I like to think of myself as a shepherd..even if only a pretend one)


You know that thought entered my mine but I thought 3 days was to long. I once had a ewe whose twins were born 20 hours apart. Only one ewe lambed that day and it was a single..come to think of it the lamb was found in the same place that she lambed AND it did have similar markings to the her lamb. Would explain why no one claimed it..survival says you concentrate on your live baby.

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Hey Tea

I have experienced ring womb. But never experienced it where some lambs were born and some not. if the cervix doesn't dilate then how is the first one born?


I have seen this too, but I've chalked it off to the lamb that was left in-utero was dead at the time of lambing and the ewe felt no contractions to continue pushing it out.

But that was only conjecture on my part.

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Yes Tea can you explain..I don't see how if it was ring womb the first lamb could of been born.


Kristen your theory makes sense. How long of a time span have you seen between the live lamb and the dead one.


I'm at this point convinced other then a ufo dropping a dead lamb in the field it had to belong to the ewe that had lambed 3 days earlier.

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More than 24 hours but I don't remember how long. If I ever expect it now, I know this sounds disgusting but if you smell the suspect ewe she'll have a pretty nasty smell coming from her rear. Not that I go smelling ewe bums on a reg. basis. :P

If you can figure out which one I'd hit her with some la200 or pen-g. Better safe than sorry. Plus you didn't find any afterbirth. My ewes have never ate all an afterbirth unless my dogs beat me to it I can usually find some.

If you find one that has retained the ab I'd probably at least call a vet for a chat. You can have some yucky problems with a retained ab.

I've also had a ewe expell an ab more than a day or so after birth. Which would seem more likely if she wasn't having hard contractions which caused her to hold on to the dead one in the first place.

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Oh the first lamb was born? I must not have read it correctly. But wasn't it born dead?


When I have seen ringwomb. The ewe labours and nothing happens, or The ewe produces a water bag with darker water in it and also sometimes fecal matter from the lamb being squashed trying to get through. Sometimes There are living lambs behind this first dead one.

BTW this can also happen with a tangle.

Also of course the cord breaks before the lamb is out and the poor thing takes a breath a drowns. Alot of things can happen. I try to feed my sheep so they lamb in the AM so I can see each birth. I also breed them to discourage triplets.


There is alot of thought of ringwomb being genetic or selenium deficiency. But whatever I cull them. I also if I see a dark water bag I glove up and rub in there and massage the udder as well to try to get things going. I have then gotten a dead lamb out and then pulled out living lambs. After the ewe opens enough for me to help.


Did I read your post correctly, I can't find my glasses.



In one case of ring womb in one brokered flock. The ewe was in labour but produced nothing. Then produced this dark bag. I went in and after alot of rubbing got out a dead lamb and two living lambs. That was ring womb. And she was closed up. Would have lost them all if I hadn't done this.

was the lamb was alive or not when it was born? Had it nursed?.You can tell by feeling the belly or looking at the teats of the ewe in the case of one lamb.

Sorry you lost it.

But this is shepherding.

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From a veterinary perspective, true ringwomb is when the cervix fails to dilate no matter how much force is exerted by the lamb, the ewe, or your own hands. The only ways to get the lambs out are c-section or cutting the cervix (euthanasia should be considered if you cut the cervix).


What Tea describes is what I'd call a routine dystocia where 1) the dead fetus doesn't dilate the cervix or 2) in the case of a live fetus coming first, the ewe is not far enough along in the delivery process to have properly dilated. Manual dilation of the cervix is only successful in non-ringwomb cases.


Like Donald, I have heard of a few cases as you describe with the mystery lamb, though haven't seen one first-hand.


You will know soon enough if she has a problematic retained placenta. If she seems to be doing fine and doesn't have a fever, I wouldn't treat her with anything.



Emily, puller of calves and lambs

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