Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Friday, March 29, 2002
by Deb Nicklay

Lambs surprise Thornton family

THORNTON - Rex ENGEBRETSON has raised sheep for more than 50 years and had never witnessed a quintuple birth of lambs.

That changed Monday.

"Oh, I'm sure it's happened before, but I've never seen it happen myself," he said.

"We've had three sets of four and I don't know how many sets of three," said his wife, Eleanor, of their years in a feeder lamb operation. "But never five."

Iowa State University Extension livestock specialist Russ EUKEN of Garner said some breeds are prone to multiple births, and the age of the ewe affects the chances of multiple births.

Still, he said, a high five happens "about one in 10,000 births," he said.

"Triplets aren't too unusual; quadruplet births are not the norm, but we see them, but quintuplets are fairly unusual," he said.

On Thursday, the lambs were continuing to thrive, with the help of a makeshift multiple bottle feeder filled with milk replacement.

ENGEBRETSON first thought his crossbreed ewe (the father is a Rambouillet breed) had delivered only a set of twins on Monday morning.

"And then the other three came later in the afternoon," Eleanor said.

Particularly rare is that all lambs survived, she said, "because that's not always the case."

"We think they (the lambs) are wonderful and strong," Eleanor said. "And, the mother has claimed them all, which also doesn't always happen. She is a good mother."

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2011



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