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  1. ITV Report

Lambing season in the Scottish Borders

Lambing is a long, and sometimes difficult, process. Photo:

At this farm in Jedburgh, 1,800 lambs will be born over 20 days.

As thousands of heavily pregnant ewes wait indoors, it takes a colossal effort from both animals, and humans, to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

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Looking after the ewes and lambs takes 24-hour care from the workers on the farm, but it's a process that starts long before:

Good lambing starts six months ago when we select the ewes, and it is very important we have good, healthy ewes, good on their feet, good weight, not too thin, and make sure their udders are ok.

Then the tups go in, after Christmas we scan them all, sort them all into different lots. We sort them all out, feed them differently so we get them the right condition to lamb. So quite a lot has gone in to getting them to this stage.

Probably the most important thing is what has happened before. The actual lambing a good lambing, if you get everything right before you wont have so many problems lambing. They will pop put on their own, and have plenty of milk."

– Stephen Withers, Farmer
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On this farm, the ewes are left to birth their own lambs without human intervention where possible.

But sometimes, farmers need to lend a helping hand.

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Ideally, they want two lambs to every mother, so the offspring won't fight over milk.

So when three lambs are born, one gets taken away and given to a sheep that only has one.

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New mothers nurse their offspring in pens, and will be put out to pasture the next day, if they're healthy, leaving the pens ready for the next expectant mothers.

In our next report we'll see how gruelling the night shift can be, as farmers deal with several births at once, and the problems that can lead to tragedy.