Gloucestershire ewe gives birth to 'one in a million' quintuplets
Staff and students at a commercial farm in Gloucestershire had a surprise this lambing season when a ewe gave birth to quintuplets.
Home Farm, owned by Hartpury University and College, has been celebrating the rare event, which one farmer said has a one-in-a-million chance of happening.
The ewe is one of 650 on the estate near Gloucester.
Agricultural staff were not anticipating the arrival of the five lambs, who were not all identified when the mother had an ultrasound.
Nonetheless, they were overjoyed with the cute new additions.
Farm manager Andrew Eastbrook, who has more than a decade of experience, originally thought four lambs were expected - which he said is unusual in itself.
He said: "Apparently the chances of a ewe giving birth to quintuplets are a million-to-one, and it's even rarer for them to be born alive and well.
“When the mother was scanned to check she was healthy and that the pregnancy was all going well, four lambs showed up on the scan.
“That’s rare in itself, because ewes tend to have only triplets at most."
The quintuplets were welcomed into the world at 4am on 19 February.
“When the actual time to give birth came and the mother had triplets, we thought the scans must have been wrong," said Andrew.
“We moved the ewe into a separate pen to give her a rest but when we came back 35 minutes later to check on her welfare, there were another two lambs – we were literally counting sheep.
“All five lambs weighed about 3.5kg each and I’m delighted to say that they’re all doing well, as is their mum.
“We’re keeping a close eye on them, as we do with all our animals, but they’ve settled in well and are obviously completely unaware of the excitement that their arrival has created.”
Due to the unexpected number of lambs, the ewe has not got enough milk to feed all five, meaning two are with foster mothers.