Lambing: skills for life

Posted: 1st March 2019

Preparation for a veterinary future.

At St Augustine’s Priory the Priory Farm is a resource both for education and enjoyment.  It is very lovely to be able to greet the sheep, pigs and chickens and to admire the crops in our allotment, but there are much deeper issues at play.  The farm links both to the curriculum in subjects as diverse as science, art and RE, but also casts a look at future careers and life skills.  For someone with ambitions to be a vet, learning how to act as a midwife to our sheep is an excellent training ground.  Lily Rai, Upper IV, is one of our pupil Farm Managers and was one of the girls selected to discover the magic and mayhem of the Lambing Skills Day!

‘At 8.00am on 9th February, we left school in the minibus with Mr Raffray and Mrs Sumpter, and began our journey to Norrington Manor Farm near Salisbury.  Once we arrived, we were greeted by Tim, the shepherd who took us into a large lambing barn where we were greeted by the sight of a huge number of pregnant ewes. One of the ewes had given birth to a tiny lamb a short while before we arrived. All the ewes which given birth had their own individual enclosures.


Firstly, we were taken to an enclosure of ewes and their lambs which were old enough to make the journey to the fields for the first time.  We carried the lambs, which were followed by the ewes, and put them in the trailer.  The trailer was then driven into the surrounding lush green pastures.  Next, Tim took us to watch one of his sheepdogs herding a flock of ewes around a huge green field.  We then moved to an enclosure of ewes with lambs which were younger than the first group and we carried them to Tim to enable him to dock them and castrate the male lambs.


We returned to the lambing shed and waited with great anticipation for the sheep to begin going into labour.  Suddenly, Tim handed me a glove, exclaiming “Come on then!”  I was extremely nervous but incredibly excited but Tim showed me exactly what to do. When I pulled the lamb out of the ewe, it was utterly amazing!  I helped to clear the fluids and mucus from the lamb’s face, massaging its chest and watching in awe as it took its first breath and sneezed for the first time.  I can’t describe the overwhelming emotion of realising that I had assisted in bringing a new life into the world.


Next, we visited Norrington Manor which was built in 1377.  We visited the undercroft (a crypt cellar) and learnt that the chapel was destroyed during the Reformation.  The lady who owned Norrington Manor gave each of us a piece of Roman pottery which she had found whilst walking through the vast grounds of the Manor.  From the front of the house, we took in the stunning views of the sparkling river running through the green landscape.  We admired the beauty of the interior of the Manor and the lady told us that she had once seen a ghostly, hooded figure in black drifting down the staircase and then disappearing!


We returned to the lambing shed just in time for Freya to assist in the birth of another lamb.  After having lunch, we removed some older lambs from the enclosures which they shared with their mothers.  By carrying the lambs so that they left their scent on the ground, we moved them to a larger enclosure.  Their mothers knew where to follow them by scent and sound.  We then learnt how to pour iodine over the lambs’ belly-buttons to prevent infections.  After this, we took more lambs to Tim to enable him to paint numbers onto the lambs to identify them.  We also assisted in carrying more lambs to be castrated and docked and we were given the opportunity to dock the lambs ourselves.  (We will not need to dock our lambs as they are a short-tailed breed).  After an exhilarating time being allowed to drive a small two seater farm utility vehicle around a large field, Katie and Daisy had the opportunity in assisting in the delivery of another lamb.


To end a fantastic experience, we were able to sit in the straw, playing with the orphaned lambs.  We named all of them and we were disappointed that we could not take them home with us as they were incredibly sweet!  I returned home feeling extremely proud of what I had achieved and learnt.  I would definitely describe this as being one of the best experiences of my life and it has reinforced my passion to become a vet.’




Categories: Priory Post Senior Sixth Form The Association Whole School