Vienna family hand-feeding lamb rejected by mother

Laura Schiermeier
Staff Writer

VIENNA — Sometimes nature has cruel lessons to learn, but humans can step in and stop the worst from happening.

On the first day of March 2019, Rachel (Neubert) Meyer had two pregnant ewes that each birthed a set of twins. One mother had two white rams and she began to nurse and care for both of them. The other mother who had two black and white ewes nursed one of them, but head butted away the smaller of the lambs.

This is where Meyer stepped in to save the little black and white Katahdin lamb. She said the little lamb whose mother did not want to nurse her was significantly smaller than her twin sister. So, her mother pushed the little one away. Meyer said it is fairly common in the animal world especially among sheep and goats who have doubles and triplets. She said the mothers think the small ones can’t make it on their own, so the moms turns away from it and concentrate its nurture on the larger lamb. 

The rejected lamb weighed under five pounds and should weigh from six to ten pounds. Meyer bought formula at MFA and it is mixes with water and poured into a bottle. With the help of her brother, Stephen and his wife, Andrea, the little lamb is being bottle fed about every two hours. They are hopeful the lamb will survive as they plan to bottle feed it through all of March and into April until it is warm enough and big enough to begin to eat grain, grass and hay. 

Stephen and Andrea have two small children, August, age 3, and Reyna, age 2. Reyna calls the little lamb a cow and her brother corrects her, telling her it’s a sheep. When the little lamb bleats, the little girl says, “Quiet, cow” and August corrects her, saying, “No, sheep.”

Meyer says the lamb is doing well with the Neuberts. It’s drinking the formula, and running around playing with the children, who have fallen in love with it. 

Once the lamb is weened off the formula, Meyer said she’s pretty confident it will be accepted by the other sheep because they are herd animals. 

Meyer is married to Adam Meyer and they currently live in Vienna and are working on the house at the farm they purchased not far from Vienna. Meyer has a bachelor’s degree in animal science and calls her group of animals a hobby farm. She has 10 sheep that they sell for market, mainly to individuals. The farm also has a couple of goats for fun, a donkey which is the guard animal, plus they have a horse and a mule, and they raise dogs. Meyer says she enjoys the menagerie of animals on their farm.