Sheep rancher Øystein Knutsen said he could hardly believe it when one of his ewes gave birth Easter Sunday morning to no less than seven lambs. All of them, including the ewe herself, survived.
Three days later, an unusually large flock was stumbling around in Knutsen’s barn at Vang in Hamar. Three of the lambs nursed from their mother while the other four were being fed milk from a bottle.
Lambing season is in full swing around the country but Knutsen’s experience was attracting attention after being reported by local newspaper Østlendingen and state broadcaster NRK. After 25 years of raising sheep, Knutsen said he’d never seen anything like it.
“When the fifth lamb emerged, I was pretty certain it was over,” he told NRK. He left his ewe to fetch raw milk, only to return to a sixth being born. “She still had a big stomach, so I helped with the seventh, and it was actually the biggest, at 4.3 kilos.”
The entire family was resting Wednesday in their own pen under special lamps mounted to keep them warm. Sheep breeders in Norway have been working to limit such extreme cases of multiple births, out of consideration for the animals’ well-being. “We really don’t want the ewes to have so many lambs,” confirmed Knutsen, “but when it went well, it was a big relief.”