Lending a hand to orphaned lambs

It may seem a strange sight, but these nappies play a vital role in helping little orphaned lambs survive. Pics: SUPPLIED, LAMB CARE AUSTRALIA

By Gabriella Payne

There’s no denying the sight of little, fluffy, new-born lambs is adorably cute – but have you ever seen them wearing nappies?

It may come as a surprise to many, but a group of dedicated volunteers at Lamb Care Australia are working hard to help as many little orphaned lambs as they can, and nappies, funnily enough, are a necessity when it comes to raising them.

Local Bayles resident and Lamb Care Australia volunteer, Bianca Farrell, rescued and raised two lambs of her own last year and is currently organising a “nappy drive” in the Cardinia Shire, in the hopes of collecting as many clean, unused nappies as she can for the organisation.

Ms Farrell said that she first got involved with the not for profit organisation after she found an orphaned lamb on her own property and was unsure on how to raise it herself, so she turned to them for help.

“I had a couple of pet sheep last year and one dropped a lamb and the mother rejected it,” Ms Farrell explained, “so I reached out to Lamb Care Australia as to what to do, and they took him and raised him.”

“From that, I adopted a couple more [lambs] from them, and I’ve done volunteer work for them ever since,” she said.

Ms Farrell said that having spent last year raising her two little orphaned lambs, Huey and Scarlett, she had come to learn just how important looking after the little ones’ hygiene was and the amount of nappies that were needed to help raise them safely indoors.

“Last year I would put them outside during the day, but at night it was too cold for them,” Ms Farrell explained, as the lambs would usually cuddle up to their mothers for warmth, but being orphans, they had nowhere to hide – not to mention the added risk of foxes.

“They were very domesticated, they would follow me around like dogs and came to know their names,” she said, “and [at night] they would usually just sit in front of the fire.”

The operations director at Lamb Care Australia, Robyn Cochrane, said that there were “many reasons” that lambs ended up as orphans each year and seeing as they were born during some of the coldest months of the year, they needed all the help they could get to survive.

“Every year, millions of lambs are orphaned across Australia,” Ms Cochrane said.

“We take in a very small percentage of the millions, just some of the ones that people find and what we do is we take in the orphans and they spend a week or two with our critical carers (some come in quite sick), and once they are well, we have a network of foster carers who look after them until they are weaned,” she explained.

“Then we have a network of forever homes where they go and live – so they eventually become pets, or members of the family.”

Ms Cochrane said that “lots of people are surprised” to see the lambs wearing nappies, but seeing as they needed to be kept indoors at night, they were an essential item in raising the orphans.

“For the first period of their life, they have to be indoors for practical reasons really, so we go through countless nappies even before they get to foster care – so they are always something that we’re looking for,” she said.

Ms Cochrane said that although the organisation tried to be as ethically conscious as possible, cloth nappies were unable to guarantee hygiene for the lambs and so disposable ones were the best option.

Ms Farrell said that if any families in the local area had any spare, unused nappies, she would gladly collect them to help more orphaned lambs, as it was much better than them “going to landfill”.

The local “nappy drive” is being organised by Ms Farrell and she will be collecting nappies in the Pakenham area post-lockdown (dates yet to be confirmed) – otherwise, to lend a helping hand, head to https://lambcareaustralia.org.au/