Lambing and Calving (and the common issue of mastitis)

Last week I spent three busy days helping out a farmer at lambing time and gaining work experience. On the first day I woke up early to help with the lambing as most ewes lamb through the night and early morning. I helped three ewes give birth; triplets, twins and a single. We also decided to give one of the triplet lambs to the single mother so that she had a double to bring up as the triplets would not receive enough milk each from their mother to make them full enough to survive outside. After the ewes had given birth, the lambs were given two squirts of spectam which is an orally administered antibiotic to prevent the lambs from getting diseases when they are at their most vulnerable. We also dipped the lamb’s navels in Iodine which drys the navel and has an antiseptic effect. Farmers do this as a wet navel provides a direct route for bacteria to travel into the lamb. The navel is dipped in iodine very quickly after birth and then later on in the day for maximum protection.

The rest of the day consisted of more lambing, moving ewes with their three year old lambs to different fields, bottle feeding the pet lambs, feeding the ewes, banding the lambs and marking the ewes and lambs with livestock spray

Here are some photos of the pet ewes that were taken off their mothers for a variety of reasons such as being the weakest triplet, their mother having mastitis or other complications with the lambs. The pet ewes had to be bottle fed and kept warm by an infrared heat lamp.

A common issue with ewes and cattle is mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland and can be caused by stress, injury or bacteria such as E.Coli.One of the ewes at the farm that showed signs of mastitis had to be separated from the herd and treated with antibiotics. Her lambs had to be weaned off of her and bottle fed in the pet area.

Also on my first day I accompanied the farmer to the vets with a lamb with a very enlarged navel. The vet was not sure if its guts were coming out  or whether the lamb just had a very enlarged navel. The lamb went in to shock shortly after the lump was cut off and stitched up and so was given steroids and pain relief to help it. We were not sure if the lamb was going to make the journey home but thankfully it managed and is now in the pet area.

The next two days were equally as busy as the first and included different experiences such as seeing a calve being born using a ratchet as a calving aid, milking and on the last day I even saw a Cesarean on a cow as her calve was coming out backwards.

Lambing is an essential part of work experience and having spend a day last year at a small farm and three days this year at a larger scale farm I am gaining different experiences in lambing season. It is a very stressful but rewarding time of year and I am going back to the same farm to help out next year. Thank you for reading and feel free to post any of your own experiences/questions regarding lambing or calving.

Gorgie City Farm

I spent a 12 week rota from September to December last year volunteering at a small local farm in Edinburgh called Gorgie Farm. The farm is run by volunteers and is a charity set up to educate city people about farming life and provide a fun and educational day out for local families. There was lots to help out with at the farm through looking after the goats, chickens, pigs, cows and sheep. An afternoon’s work from 1-4pm consisted of mucking out stables, exercising the goats, moving animals to different enclosures, collecting eggs and giving all the animals their afternoon feed.


During my time at Gorgie Farm I also helped with a new born lamb and even found its docked tail when mucking out the ewe enclosure. The tail had been castrated by banding which prevents the build up of faeces which could have caused fly strike. 

On one occasion I had to help nurse an injured piglet that had escaped its cage during the night and had unfortunately ended up in a enclosure of larger pigs. The little piglet had been caught up in a fight and was found with multiple cuts. Most of the cuts were not very deep and so I just had to rub antiseptic onto the wounds to stop them getting infected and prevent the bleeding.

In the last few weeks, we had to change our routine with the chickens due to the risk of them catching Avian Influenza from wild birds such as pigeons. We had to disinfect our wellie boots going into and out of the covered enclosures and their food and water had to be sheltered, to reduce the risk of infection. Avian Influenza is a naturally occurring virus among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. The risk of this disease to the UK came in December of last year and so poultry farmers have had to alter the way they keep their birds in order to prevent them from catching the disease.

During my time at Gorgie Farm I learnt lots about the care of each farm animal, which added to my knowledge of farming gained through growing up on my Grandad’s farm. The farm brings a little bit of country life to the city and I was very keen to volunteer at Gorgie Farm after spending so many happy days out there as a child. 

Limber Tail Syndrome/ Acute Caudal Myopathy

As you may have seen from my previous post, I own a 2 year old black labrador called Tehya. She is bred as a gundog and although we do not go out shooting with her, you can see her natural strength and agility as she runs for miles and will chase tennis balls forever if she could. However after she was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 1, we were told to reduce her exercise (which is very frustrating for an athletic black lab). The vet told us that chasing the ball was too tough on her joints but recommended swimming as an alternative.


She now swims regularly and gets her exercise through retrieving the ball from the water and, even though we try to avoid the icy cold water in the winter months, she will take herself off for a swim even when not prompted. Although this is a great alternative, it does mean that she has had limber tail syndrome on multiple occasions caused by her love of swimming.

Limber Tail Syndrome has intrigued me ever since she first got it as it is a very unusual but common problem that affects working/very active dogs.

So what is Limber Tail Syndrome/Acute caudal myopathy?

It is a problem that affects the muscles in a dog’s tail which causes pain near to the base of the tail. It is also commonly called ‘broken tail syndrome’ as the symptoms are very similar to a dog breaking its tail. The tail goes limp and part of the tail often hangs at a 90°  to the base. It is a problem that often takes only 24-48 hours to heal and in the mean time only anti-inflammatory painkillers can aid the healing process.


Many vets are aware of the condition but as I researched online there were no clear reasons to why and how it affects a dog’s tail. As a pet owner having experienced the mysterious problem of limber tail, I found that my dog was in discomfort and struggled to sit down for two to three days but there were no long term effects. This disorder is very intriguing and I will continue to research and look into the background behind it.

Thank you for reading, if anyone has any questions or extra information into this condition then that would be greatly appreciated!


Photo reference:


Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog all about my experiences in the lead up to applying for veterinary medicine at University. After attending a vet-med link course at Nottingham University I was inspired to write this blog. I will post regularly about my work experience and any areas of veterinary medicine that interests me or is a current issue in the news. There may also be a few posts about veterinary related issues I have encountered through owning a range of pets. Here is a bit about myself:

Having grown up riding on my Grandad’s farm, I have been very interested in the equine side of veterinary medicine. This is my 13.2hh Welsh Cob x called Cruze. He is 11 years old and I have had him for 5 years.


My Grandad is a national hunt owner and trainer and so I am a proud supporter of our family racing stables ‘Hogarth Racing’. I also ride one of my Grandad’s ex-race horses called Finbin.

I also own a 2 y/o black labrador called Tehya who is a very nervous dog and so I have developed an interest in canine behavior. She is also very unlucky to have developed arthritis at a young age and so we have had to alter her diet and exercise regime as a result.

As well as riding and going on long walks with Tehya, I enjoy Hockey, Badminton, Highland Dancing and volunteering at my local Riding for the Disabled charity. I have also been looking after two rabbits for the past half a year for some friends.