Not a baa-d way to spend lockdown

Kevin Butler said lambs were good companions, and gave children some responsibilities during COVID-19.

By Steph McNicol

ORPHANED lambs will now have another chance at being cared for as Kilmore East farmer Kevin Butler has organised for people to raise a lamb during COVID-19.

The founder of BlazeAid and a dedicated farmer, Mr Butler posted on a Facebook community page to find out if people were interested in looking after the lambs.

Mr Butler said lambs were sometimes orphaned if they were twins or triplets, or if they were born to a new mother that was unsure how to care for them.

“Sometimes there will be two of the new lambs sleeping behind a log in the sunshine, and the mother will be happy to take one lamb and leave the other behind the log,” he said.

“What happens is the new mums are not as adaptable as the older ones, so they’re unsure.”

Mr Butler said there were about 100 lambs born a day on his property, and of those born about one to two per cent were orphaned.

“I go out into the paddocks about seven o’clock every morning and spend about three hours covering the 20 kilometres to find any orphaned lambs,” he said.

“Sometimes you have a bad day, like yesterday I had to pick up seven that had been orphaned.”

Mr Butler said cold weather was also detrimental to the wellbeing of the new-born lambs and it was crucial they were kept warm.

“Wind and rain are real killers for lambs. With the wind and rain, if they’re not up and going and being fed by the mother, they will die from the cold,” he said.

Not wanting to lose any of his lambs, Mr Butler decided to post on Facebook to gather interest from families wanting a lamb.

“As soon as I pick up the lambs I put them on Facebook and within about 15 seconds I have a call from someone who wants to come get it,” he said.

“I’ve had people come from Romsey, Shepparton, Heathcote, and if they come from Melbourne, they need a permit and my wife signs it for them and sends it back so they can come here.”

On his Facebook post, Mr Butler details the requirements and essentials people must have in their possession before coming to collect a lamb.

The necessities include milk powder, which costs about $60, a feeding bottle with a teat, and a hot water bottle.

Mr Butler said it was crucial people wanting to nurse a lamb also buy a satchel of electrolytes, to ensure lambs were able to get their fluids back if by chance they suffered diarrhoea or an ecoli infection.

“People also have the option of bringing the lambs back after five or six weeks when they are feeding completely on grass, or they can keep them,” he said.

“I’ve been giving away these lambs for about 25 years, so instead of putting them down during COVID-19, people can look after them as part of animal welfare.”

People looking for more information should visit Lambs for Lions on Facebook, where Mr Butler posts when he has lambs available.

People should be prepared to pick up a lamb within two to three hours of registering their interest, and have proof of the essential purchases to care for them.