Belfast Telegraph

Storm Eleanor helps deliver five-lamb litter

By Chris McCullough

A Co Antrim farmer has revealed how one of his ewes gave birth to an incredible five lambs as Storm Eleanor raged.

The odds of a sheep giving birth to quintuplets are a million to one, but for Ballymena farmer Alastair Kerr the ferocity of the weather made it a day he will never forget.

During the early hours of Wednesday, while Storm Eleanor was at its worst, Mr Kerr was keeping an eye over his flock when one of his Zwartbles Beltex crossbreds gave birth to the five babies.

Thankfully for him the young farmer had already brought his heavily pregnant ewes into a dry house for lambing, where he was able to watch them from his own house using a camera system.

"It is her first set of lambs," said the chuffed farmer. "She was showing signs of lambing late on Tuesday night when Storm Eleanor started to appear and I knew that she would lamb at some stage in the night.

"I had no idea she was carrying five lambs, which is a record for my flock here. I am lambing 110 sheep this season and I have them all in the shed where I can keep an eye on them from my own house.

"At around 5am this sheep started to lamb and I came out to make sure she was okay. The winds were howling here at that time of the morning."

The hogget lambed easily herself without any assistance from him, and had four tip - or male - lambs and one ewe lamb.

"They are all very healthy and feeding well," he said. "Normally it's not ideal to have so many lambs from one animal, as they can be small and won't last. But in this case all five are doing well and we are topping them up with colostrum at regular intervals. Let's see how they get on."

He is no stranger to ewes producing high numbers of lambs each, as last year his flock produced four sets of quadruplets.

"It is a tough ask for the mothers, especially if they are first-time mothers. The remarkable thing is that this particular ewe was scanned to have triplets, but instead gave birth to five lambs. Storm Eleanor must have helped ease another two out of her."

Belfast Telegraph

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