Orphaned Lamb Found Lying On The Road All Alone
Elma's rescue story is all too familiar. A couple was driving along a county road in Victoria, Australia, when they spotted the little lamb on the side of the road.
The baby was alone - no other lambs or sheep or even farmhouses were around. The man and woman had no idea how the lamb ended up on the road.
When they scooped her up, they were shocked to find that Elma was still covered in wet amniotic fluid, and her umbilical cord was still attached. This lamb was only hours old.
They rushed Elma to a veterinarian, who tried to help by giving her formula. Despite the vet's best efforts, Elma's health deteriorated - she contracted a bad case of scours, which is a nasty infection that causes diarrhea and often results in death.
Elma's main issue was that she hadn't received her mother's colostrum in the first 24 hours of her life. As Pam Ahern of Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary explains, colostrum is essential in building up a lamb's immune system. "At birth, the lamb doesn't carry any antibodies because antibodies in the ewe's bloodstream do not cross the placenta," she told The Dodo. "It really is liquid gold. After about 10 days, lambs start to build their own immunity."
The couple who found Elma refused to give up on her. They called Ahern and the team at Edgar's Mission, asking if they could help. Ahern said she would, but she worried about Elma's chances of surviving. "Our hearts sank when we learned that the lamb hadn't received her mother's colostrum," says Ahern, "but we made a promise to try everything we could to save Elma's life."
Ahern and the Edgar's Mission staff gave Elma antibiotic injections to try and boost her immune system. "Her little cries pierced our hearts," says Ahern, "but we knew this was her only hope."
It worked. Elma got over the worst of her illness, and started building up immunity. "Over the coming days, the sickly little lamb disappeared," says Ahern. "She was replaced by a spritely little Elma who had determined we were the next best thing to her mother."
According to Ahern, Elma adores people, and stays so close to her human companions, it's easy to trip over her. She also loves spending time in the barn while it's being cleaned. "She'll bed herself down in a stall whilst a staff member mucks it out," Ahern says. "Then she'll get up and move on to the next stall when the staff member does."
Elma may be better now, but Ahern keeps a close eye on her. "Elma sleeps next to my bed so I can check on her," Ahern explains. "Unlike one of our other lambs, Fifi, who is boisterous and vocal, Elma is quiet as a mouse, and won't stir until I do."
Ahern also dresses Elma in little jackets and sweaters to help her retain body heat. The clothes keep Elma healthy, but they also look pretty cute...
...even if the cat doesn't think so.
"Little Elma is just a doll, quite literally like a little child's doll," Ahern says. "She never makes a peep, and just sits about dressed in her warm jackets doing what lambs do best - being adorable."
"Every day we are blessed with this little treasure in our lives, and whilst she truly enriches ours, we trust we do hers. Her tenacity to beat the odds is something we are so thankful for."
You can support Edgar's Mission and help lambs like Elma by donating here.