Island lamb orphanage takes in first newborn of the year

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A lamb orphanage on a remote Scottish island has taken in its first resident of the year – a newborn called Mr Frazier.

American couple Tully and Chris MacIntyre have opened up their home on the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides to the tiny lambs for four years now.

 

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Mr Frazier is the first in the door this year

 

Soon they will be overrun with the newborns who need to be fed up to five times a day.

They charge crofters £20 to look after orphaned and sick lambs which covers the cost of powdered milk.

 

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Mr Frazier keeping warm in front of the Rayburn

 

The service has proved increasingly popular – last year 27 pet lambs were in the care of the MacIntyres.

Chris (64), a retired hospital nursing assistant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Washington, heads up the operation.

 

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Making sure he’s kepy nice and warm Chris puts a hat on Mr Frazier

 

In order to keep up she uses baby slings to carry and keep warm the smaller lambs and has even used the kitchen Rayburn to heat up those that are premature or sick.

 

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Sometimes Chris and Tully put premature or sick lambs in the Rayburn to keep warm – wrapped up in blankets

 

The couple split their time between living in Seattle and Benbecula, where they have family, but always make sure they are in the Hebrides in time for lambing season.

“I have been called the lamb lady,” laughed Chris.

“It’s a community service to the crofters because they are so busy.”

 

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Baby slings prove useful when you have dozens of lambs to keep an eye on

 

She continued: “Mr Frazier is the first lamb to come in this year, he arrived earlier this week.

“His mum was not doing well. The crofter called and let me know what was going on.”

 

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The lambs like to be petted – pictured is Chris with lambs from previous years

 

She explained: “April is when I get slammed. You can’t ever be prepared.

“The first year I had five. The second 15, the third year about 25 and last year 27 lambs.”

Chris spent her whole career looking after newborns and now her retirement is no different.

 

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Every now and again they need a bath as well

 

“I missed babies and lambs took over,” she said.

“They are all different – they are like kids. They all have a different personality.

“They all have names. The crofters get them back with names.

“I know them all by name. I have to have some way to differentiate them.

 

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Chris in the kitchen with a lamb in her pocket

 

“They all have a different baas too.”

Chris has to be extremely organised to keep track of all them and has her routine down to a tee.

 

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Tully feeding one of the lambs from previous years. They need fed up to six times a day

 

“I weigh them when they first come in,” she explained. “I figure out how much they should be should be fed every day and divide it by four or five feeds depending on the lamb.

“Usually they get four feeds a day and I wean them to three when they get older.”

 

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Chris keep a close eye on how much each lamb need to eat

 

“I’ve also warmed the lambs up in the Rayburn,” she said. “This little Rayburn has saved many a lamb.”

It is usually six weeks before the lambs leave the safely of the house and go outside to graze.

“You’re committed to these little guys for a couple of months,” she said.

 

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When they get older they start to venture outside

 

“I get a lot of helpers. A lot of children come to feed them. Even adults take to the lambs.

“They are tame – they go to people and the like to be petted.”

When grown-up they are returned to the crofters.

 

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Chris weighs each one on arrival

 

“I can’ t keep them I have to give them back,” she said. “It was hard the first year.

“I have to learn to let go because I know some of them go to market.”

 

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Tully with the the pet lambs from a previous year

 

Talking about her husband Tully she said: “He’s really good with the bottle. He loved it as much as I do. It’s a team effort.”

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