Little Spring Lambs
1st May 2013
When we think of spring images of wild-flowers and the first new buds on the trees are conjured up. In the animal kingdom, we start to see more and more birds as they return to breed from their warmer winter grounds further south, and last but by no means least, the young of some of our most iconic farm animals like calves and lambs.
Lambs are born in the later winter or early spring after a gestation period that lasts for roughly four and half months, following the annual breeding season which occurs during the autumn months every year. Although ewes (female sheep) only tend to give birth to a single young, twins are not uncommon.
After birth, the young lamb is licked clean by it's mother and will soon begin trying to stand, which it can usually do within an hour of birth. This advanced behaviour for young animals is common with many hoofed mammals including goats, cows, horses and even zebras as it decreases the chances of the newborns becoming vulnerable to predation by large carnivores.
For their first two months, young lambs suckle and feed on only the milk provided by their mother in order to get all of the nutrients that they need to grow and survive healthily. Between the ages of 50 and 60 days, lambs are weaned off the milk and instead adopt a diet that consists only of solid plant material such as grass and flowers.
The growing lambs soon become large enough to look after themselves and become independent of their mothers. Later in the same year they are able to reproduce themselves with rams (male lambs) becoming sexually mature at between four to six months of age where the ewes do so a couple of months later, and the cycle continues as the next generation of young lambs appears at the beginning of the following year.
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