Breeding Babydoll Sheep in Australia
Babydoll Southdown lambs are the most adorable little babies. They look like some alien creature, with their big bat-like ears, their 'teddy bear' face and their cute smile. They look so gorgeous they are almost too cute to be true.
Babydoll Southdown sheep are joined in the Autumn and lamb in the Spring. Twins are often born and sometimes triplets. The ewes are good mothers and like any mother, take good care of their babies. However, when the ewe is pregnant, especially in the later months of pregnancy, they can easily get on their backs (called 'cast') and can't get up again. If this happens and they are not quickly found, they can die. Pregnant ewes should be inspected at least twice per day for this reason.
In the cold weather, especially if there are windy or frosty conditions, Babydoll lambs must have shelter, preferably a shed or similar. They can easily die if they become cold and all care must be taken when being born and for the first few days of life. We lamb our Babydolls in a shed and find the survival rates of the lambs increase if they are inside. We learnt this the hard way, loosing several lambs to the cold in our first year of breeding Babydolls. We had never had this problem with Dorper lambs and so assumed Babydoll lambs would be the same. We were wrong!
Modern Southdowns in Australia have been bred not to have wool on their faces because in Australia grass seeds can cause havoc with the sheep's eyes. Babydoll Southdowns have naturally woolly faces and their faces will need shearing annually. For lambs, we have found we must trim the wool from the lamb's face, especially around their eyes, as soon as possible or grass seeds will get into their eyes which is an emergency and must be removed as soon as possible. Plastic tweezers are very helpful as well as saline water to flush out the grass seed and make it easier to take out. Lambing should not take place in a paddock with grass seeds or the baby lambs will become covered with them.
Because we have used Artificial Insemination (AI) and embryo transfer for our lambs in the past, the photos below show the Babydoll babies with their recipient mothers, usually a Dorper, so don't be confused when you see a Babydoll lamb with their Dorper recipient mother! We sometimes use a first cross Babydoll Southdown/Dorper ewe as a recipient ewe as well. You will notice a blue number on the ewes and lambs. This is identify which lamb belongs to which recipient mother, and also to identify which Babydoll ewe is the true mother who donated her embryos.