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East Anglia Future 50

Rare lamb quads born on Suffolk farm

PUBLISHED: 11:40 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:29 20 March 2019

Farmer KT Mitcham-Henry with one of the quad lambs Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Farmer KT Mitcham-Henry with one of the quad lambs Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Archant 2019

Would ewe believe it - a sheep on a Bury St Edmunds farm has given birth to quad lambs.

Rosie gave birth to the four rams overnight last Friday at Heath Farm at Hessett run by farmer KT Mitcham-Henry and her business partner Mike Phillips.

The odds of quadruplet lambs being born are around 500-1 and KT said neither she nor Mike had seen it before in their farming careers.

“I brought her in and put her in a stall after she gave birth to her first lamb outside on Friday night,” she said.

“When I checked on her at 4am the next morning there she was with another three lambs - I did a double-take as I just didn’t believe it at first, but they were clearly all hers.

The quad lambs born at Heath Farm in Hessett near Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe quad lambs born at Heath Farm in Hessett near Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“Twins and triplets is quite common - Rosie had triplets a couple of years ago - but quads is very rare.”

Quad births occur because a ewe’s uterus is in two sections, with each section of the uterus carrying one pair.

KT said the markings of the lambs clearly showed that the quads were two sets of twins with different fathers.

Only one of the lambs has been named so far. He has been dubbed Rafiki by KT’s young daughter Laila after the monkey character in the Lion King because of his markings.

Rosie the ewe  with her quad lambs at Heath Farm in Hessett near Bury St Edmunds Picture: Sonya DuncanRosie the ewe with her quad lambs at Heath Farm in Hessett near Bury St Edmunds Picture: Sonya Duncan

He was the first-born and the smallest so is having extra feeds from a bottle.

The other three are unnamed but suckling normally – two with Rosie and the third with another ewe whose lamb died.

KT said: “Rosie is a special animal to us. She was bottle-fed as a lamb and this now just makes her even more special.

“Giving birth to quads has been hard work for her, we’ve given her pain relief and we’ll just let her get her breath back.

The odds of a quadruplet birth in sheep are around 500/1 Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe odds of a quadruplet birth in sheep are around 500/1 Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“I don’t think we’ll be putting her into lambing next year - I would say that she’s earned a rest!”

KT said the lambs would be kept on the farm for around 12 months before a decision was made on which to keep and which would be sold on.

Rosie is a Norfolk mule sheep and one of 250 breeding ewes on the farm, which also raises longhorn cattle and native breed pigs.

A spokesman for William Hill said they would give odds of 500/1 on a quad birth for a ewe.

Farmer KT Mitcham-Henry feeds Rafiki alongside ewe Rosie and the other lambs Picture: SONYA DUNCANFarmer KT Mitcham-Henry feeds Rafiki alongside ewe Rosie and the other lambs Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“Ewe could not make it up, we think it is a 500/1 - baaaarmy bet, we will have to ensure that we don’t have the wool pulled over our eyes in the future,” said spokesman Rupert Adams.

For more details about the farm go to its website.

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