Mama sheep gives birth to five lambs

Papa renamed 'Stud Muffin'

Harry Sullivan
Published on March 8, 2011
With a disgruntled mama ewe looking on, from left, twins Christian and Nathan, 11, sister Olivia, 13, and friend Marissa Clarke, 13, show off the five lambs born Monday to the MacPhee family in Upper North River. HARRY SULLIVAN – TRURO DAILY NEWS

UPPER NORTH RIVER - You can't blame the black sheep of the family for all the hullabaloo at the MacPhee household Monday morning, though he certainly did play a part.

"Crazy, a scramble," 11-year-old Christian said of the excitement created when his father Mike came in from the barn to announce that one of their sheep had given birth to a whopping five lambs.

"We came running out as we were getting ready for school," Christian said.

The black sheep in question is the dad, a half Katahdin and half Dorper.

The mom, Cherry, is full Katahdin, and while her variety is not known as the most prolific of sheep breeders, it is certainly not the first time she has mothered a multiple brood.

Born as one of a triplet, Cherry has twice birthed triplets, prior to this week's set of quintuplets.

Mike said the five lambs were born just shortly before he went out to the barn at about 8:15 a.m. on Monday. After that, it was pretty much just "a crazy morning at the MacPhee home."

Jonathon Wort, a livestock specialist with AgriPoint in Bible Hill, said the birth of five healthy lambs to one ewe is not as rare as it once was, but it is still a fairly uncommon occurrence.

"I'm not sure what the frequency would be on Katahdin sheep," Wort said. "If you had asked me 20 years ago I would've said it was really rare. To me, I would say it is somebody who has pretty damn good management."

Still, he said, "it's not something that happens every day."

Wort said it is also very difficult for a ewe to properly care for more than three lambs at one time.

Mike also recognizes that fact, and to that end, he and his children will be surrogate parents to two of the lambs, which will be removed from the mom to be bottle fed.

As for the daddy black sheep, he has now been christened "Stud Muffin" by Mike's wife, Michelle.