Friday, July 24, 2009

Mopple's indoor home (bottle babies in the house)

Mopple is almost ready to move up to the bigger bottle baby crib—an enormous “wolf-size” wire dog crate. This is a record: he’s growing even faster than our Boer goat kids!

Our first indoor lamb and kid crib is a large, wire dog crate we bought not long after we were married, so it’s at least 35 years old! It’s nice because in addition to the usual front-opening door, the top flips open for easy access to the baby inside. We usually leave the top open for the first few weeks, especially when housing small Miniature/Classic Cheviot lambs. However, Mopple is tall and unusually active, so we closed it right from the start.

When there are two occupants they keep one another company but when there’s only one, I usually put a plush toy animal in the crate for company. Since Vanessa sent Delilah’s shed fleece along with Mopple, he had that to cuddle and sleep on.

The secret to relatively odor-free indoor bottle baby keeping is using lots of easily washable bedding. I use old bath towels, secondhand infant receiving blankets and large pieces of old bed blankets (pieces are better than whole blankets because you can choose exactly the right amount of padding and pieces are more easily laundered).

I start with a very absorbent layer; worn wool blankets from the used-a-bit shop work especially well but towels do the job too. The middle layer can be anything. The top layer should be lightweight and easily wash- and dryable because it must be replaced every time the baby poops. Healthy milk-fed lamb and kid poop is yellow and (if you’re on track) log-shaped; if the baby’s digestion is at all off-kilter, pudding consistency (or worse). Mopple has been a gem: little logs all the way (hooray!).

To further quash odor and to keep things tidy, I wipe the crate down with Lysol every time I completely strip the bed. Barring incidents, I do that three times a day.

When things are kept clean there is little or no odor until the kid or lamb starts eating solids around two to three weeks of age. Then urine takes on a more pungent aroma.

Most of our kids and lambs move out at about three to four weeks of age, depending on whether or not they have a companion and things are getting crowded (and smelly!). The long-term record is held by Tumnus, a Boer-dairy goat cross seized in an animal neglect case and given to me by our veterinarian. His urine never started to reek and ensconced in the wolf-size crate, he lived in the house for six whole weeks.

Of course, the option is to housetrain the lamb or kid. That’s doable, but we’ll talk about it another time!


  1. I'm sorry, Sue, but he's just too beautiful for words! LOVE his markings/coloration, and what a wonderful face. You got very lucky in the esthetics department.

  2. How Adorable! We had a house sheep last winter but opted for disposable diapers with holes cut for the tail. Our little Blossom was in the house for five weeks & romped around like a little Road Runner (from Bugs Bunny cartoons). Our boxer adopted her. Blossom slept in a play pen. She was pretty good about not nibbling things, except for toilet paper. I'd find soggy wads occasionally so had to remove the rolls. She's in the barn with her Mom & Aunties now, doing just great. Good luck with your little one - so cute!

  3. Even my husband thinks he's cool looking!

  4. It's comforting, and I mean this seriously, to know that there are people like you out there. Thank you for your good work and your interesting posts. I'm adding you to my Google Reader.

  5. Thanks, everybody! Mopple is a sweetie and I am SO fortunate to have him. :o)