Would ewe believe it ... five lambs born in million-to-one chance

Mandy Forrest, centre, with helpers Leeanne Jenner and Jade Green
Mandy Forrest, centre, with helpers Leeanne Jenner and Jade Green

A farmer was left shocked when she discovered that one of her ewes had beaten odds of one-in-a-million to give birth to FIVE healthy lambs.

The surprise quintuplets were born at Bridge Hill Farm in Rusper which has been home to Mandy and Chas Forrest for the past 32 years.

“I didn’t know there were five at first,” said Mandy. “I don’t have the ewes scanned and she wasn’t a lot bigger than any of the others.

“I had her in a field visible from the house and went to check on her every couple of hours. I saw she had one lamb, quite a small one, and I said to my husband that she would probably have another.

“About an hour and a half later, there were five, all round her and struggling to stand up.”

Mandy shouted for husband Chas for help to carry the youngsters into a pen where daughter Freddie, 25, helped to feed the little ones on her lap with a tube directly into the stomach.

“They all had something that night,” said Mandy. “In the morning I checked them all and the mum and all the lambs were still alive.”

Now the three boys and two girls are three weeks old and are all doing well.

“There’s one, bless him, who has slightly gangly legs and is the runt of the litter, but he can still keep up with the others,” said Mandy.

Most ewes give birth to only two lambs at a time and, occasionally, three, but quintuplets are considered extremely rare, especially if they survive.

Now the new arrivals are keeping the Forrest family on their toes - along with four sets of lamb triplets - and 83 other ewes and lambs. The quintuplets have to have a bottle ‘top up’ feed four times a day.

Caroline Harriott, deputy chairman of the West Sussex branch of the National Farmers’ Union confirmed the birth of five healthy lambs to one ewe was ‘amazing and very rare.’

Caroline, a life-long sheep farmer, said she sometimes got three or four sets of quads, but was likely to see quintuplets just once in five years, and it was much more rare to find five that were healthy.

“It also depends on the breed of sheep, some will have more multiple births than others,” she said.

“Fell sheep, for example, will have only one lamb, other breeds will have two, three or four.”

But, she added that the more there were, the more problems would be encountered in feeding - as sheep have only two teats.