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Sheep farmer's two sets of lamb quadruplets born amid Storm Frank chaos

By Chris McCullough

Published 01/01/2016

Proud Ballymena farmer Alastair Kerr, his son, Sam (4), and one-year-old daughter Nicole with his home-bred Lleyn-cross ewe that gave birth to four healthy Texel-cross lambs on Tuesday
Proud Ballymena farmer Alastair Kerr, his son, Sam (4), and one-year-old daughter Nicole with his home-bred Lleyn-cross ewe that gave birth to four healthy Texel-cross lambs on Tuesday

Amid the chaos of Storm Frank, a sheep farmer helped deliver not one but two sets of lamb quadruplets.

The first set was born on Alastair Kerr's farm in Ballymena on Tuesday as the weather system was descending on Northern Ireland.

And the second set of four arrived the following morning, just as the storm was leaving.

Experts said it was unusual for quadruplets to be born, and especially at this time of the year.

All of the new arrivals on the Kerr farm are doing well.

It was the third crop of lambs from the ewe, who has been a good mother in the past, according to the farmer.

Alastair, who also works part-time in Ballymena's Michelin tyre factory, said: "We run around 120 ewes on the farm, consisting of a mixture of different breeds.

"We had previously scanned the ewes, so we knew they were expecting four lambs, but you never know what can happen when they are born.

"This particular ewe is a Lleyn cross-breed, and she was paired with a pure-bred Texel ram.

"She gave birth to the first two lambs naturally and I assisted with the second two.

"Mother and all four lambs are doing very well, and we are very pleased with their progress to date. The kids love them."

Alastair's four-year-old son, Sam, and one-year-old daughter Nicole enjoyed playing with the lambs over the holiday period.

But the Christmas lambs spectacle did not end there as another set of four were delivered the very next day to another of Alastair's ewes.

Again the farmer was watching his sheep and was able to help the ewe with the delivery.

"Just as Storm Frank was leaving, we had another ewe that gave birth to another four healthy lambs," said Alastair. "Again the ewe and lambs are doing well."

Edward Adamson is the Northern Ireland manager of the National Sheep Association and chairman of the Northern Ireland Lleyn Breed Society.

He said: "Lleyn sheep are prolific, but this is quite early for them to give birth. Normally, ewes give birth to two or three lambs, with four being a more uncommon. They usually lamb down in mid-January, so she has done well lambing this early in the season.

"Commercial sheep farmers really don't want to see four lambs being born as it is quite difficult for one ewe to rear four offspring."

He told how in many cases a farmer's wife would take responsibility for hand-rearing one and sometimes tow lambs in a set of quads, but added: "This particular Lleyn ewe on the Kerr farm is lambing for the third time, so she really is in her prime."

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