Would ewe believe it? Five sets of triplets born at Suffolk farm

Edie Williamson, 17, has been helping to deliver lambs while on work experience at Meens Farm.

Edie Williamson, 17, has been helping to deliver lambs while on work experience at Meens Farm. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The New Year marked the start of a busy few days on a farm where more than 30 lambs were born, including five sets of triplets.

Edie Williamson, 17, feeding the lambs with farm owner Gail Sprake.

Edie Williamson, 17, feeding the lambs with farm owner Gail Sprake. - Credit: Nick Butcher

And 17-year-old Edie Williamson, who was doing a week’s work experience at Meens Farm in All Saints South Elmham, got more of a hands-on experience than she expected.

Gail Sprake and her husband have farmed the 600-acre site for more than 30 years and it has been in the family for more than a century, with a mixture of arable and livestock.

Mrs Sprake said: “It has been five years since we have had triplets, and in this batch we have five sets, along with at least five sets of twins.

“Edie has been an absolute star - she had never actually handled a sheep before.

Edie Williamson, 17, feeding the lambs.

Edie Williamson, 17, feeding the lambs. - Credit: Nick Butcher

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“She was able to watch when one of our ewes needed a caesarian and even delivered another lamb by herself.”

Edie, who is studying A level biology, chemistry and maths at Lowestoft Sixth Form College, is hoping to study veterinary sciences at university. She said: “I have done work experience before and you are not allowed to do much so this was very hands on, and I was able to get stuck in.” Edie was given an extra day’s holiday from college in order to see the lambing process through to the end, and has been bottle feeding some of the newborns with special lamb milk.

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Two of the lambs have been named Eddie and Edie, in honour of the young farm hand.

Mrs Sprake said of one of the extra-special lambs: “There is gestation of 147 days and in the last six weeks, 70pc of the foetal growth goes on, so you feed the ewes in the last four weeks of pregnancy to maximise the growth.

“What it does mean sometimes is they put so much goodness into the lamb that you end up with a whopping great lamb which may not come out the right way. Hence the c-section on Saturday morning.

“Eddie is really a rather special lamb - every now and then you pull out a lamb and you think wow, it’s going to be a show lamb and this one could be - he’s got size and presence and a bit of star quality about him.”

Mrs Sprake, whose daughter is a vet and now lives in Texas, added: “It’s very hard to get veterinary experience - you can go to a veterinary practice but you can only sit and you watch because of health and safety rules and insurance regulations.

“So this was truly hands on and hands in. Edie was a totally blank canvas but she was able to learn so much in a few short days.”

The sheep are all Southdowns which is one of the oldest British breeds of sheep and some Southdowns cross Jacob.

A similar number of lambs are expected to be born in the next batch due to give birth soon then a batch of Devon Closewools, their other rare breed of sheep, are due at the end of March.

•Have you taken part in an unusual work experience. Email the details to lynn.crombie@archant.co.uk or call 01502 712060.

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