we acquired Helen and her daughter Doby who was only 2 months old. Shortly after that she got pregnant and had Willy in September of the same year. Then she got pregnant just one month later. I didn't even know that was possible. But sure enough, she birthed Jonah and Julius in March of 2011. Jonah appeared healthy, but Julius seemed to lack a proper suck reflex. He died about 2 weeks after he was born. We got Copper good and isolated that very month.
Or so we thought.
I had wanted to give poor Helen a nice break from babies. But in November she started to look round. She had always been so scrawny and gangly that seeing her a little on the plump side made me happy.
We also, in the month of October, had some troubles with Copper. It started with him jumping his 4' fence repeatedly. We never found him in the paddock with the others, but clearly that was his goal. He spent a week on the end of a chain until we could contruct "The World's Ugliest Fence" around the bachelor pad. Then we went camping and came home to find that he had ripped a hole right through his fence, broke a 4x4 pressure treated post in half with his head, ripped the common area fence right off the rest of the posts and was in with everyone having a hay day. His interest was mostly in Doby and Bella so I had hoped in those few hours (14 at most) that it would not just happen to be the 2 or 3 days in a month that Helen could get pregnant.
But then her milk dried up rather suddenly and she she started looking fat. She's a lot like me... barely pregnant and people are already asking when the due date is. I wondered if she was pregant or was she finally just recovered from multiple babies and lactations?
December 20th we had our answer. She didn't come when I fed them that morning. That's always a red flag for any of our critters. I went in and checked her out and found two tiny fetuses hanging out of her. They looked the same, size and all, of the rabbit babies that had also died that same morning (more about that later). I mourned. I tried to save her from pregnancy and didn't and now she has 3 dead babies (including Julius) all because her poor body was just tired and couldn't grow them properly.
She cried all night that night. She didn't eat for a couple days. Now she's back to normal. So much so that she butts Bella away from the feed. But we started wondering exactly what happened.
Possibility #1: Copper DID get in the common area in early October and then back out during those couple weeks we were fighting him. Likelihood- very low. If he got in and back out, Dulci would have surely followed him.
Possibility #2: Helen did just happen to be in heat when he got in the common area in late October. Likelihood- about 1 in 14 chance. Not to mention that he did not appear interested Helen when I was draggin him away from his harem.
Possibility #3- Helen lives in perpetual heat like a rabbit. Likelihood- well, I've never heard of that before, but if anyone's like that its fertile Myrtle Helen.
Possibility #4- Those were Valentino's babies and destined to miscarry anyway. Likelihood- moderate.
So, yes, sheep and goats can reproduce. It doesn't happen often, but when it does they are almost always miscarried or stillborn. Very rare occurances result in live births. Odd as it sounds, I think this is the thought we'll need to run with. That Valentino will need to be kept separated from at least Helen during times when she's not pregnant and we don't want her to be.
Is that feasible??? That's 7 months of the year. And he can't be in the bachelor pad or he and Copper will kill each other. Is it likely Valentino wouldn't attempt to mount her except in the fall when ewes are in heat? Would that at least chop those 7 months down to 2? Or would we just need to arrange her "schedule" so she's pregnant in the fall?
Or does she need to get moved on to a home that's not so hard on her uterus?
Questions abound. No conclusions just yet. Any advice would be appreciated. I just really don't want her continually pregnant by whatever random critter is woed by her feminine whiles. I'd rather see her in a different home than harmed because we can't feasibly provide what she needs.