Much ado about mutton as Cork family welcomes quintuplet spring lambs

“We’ve become very emotionally attached to these five,” hobby sheep farmer, Margaret O’Brien, said.

Much ado about mutton as Cork family welcomes quintuplet spring lambs

For some, it may be much ado about mutton but for this family, the arrival of quintuplet spring lambs, followed hours later by two sets of triplets, has shepherded in a frantic new era of round-the-clock feeds.

And they've assured that the new quintuplets, at least, will never have to worry about being paired with mint sauce.

“We’ve become very emotionally attached to these five,” hobby sheep farmer, Margaret O’Brien, said.

Declan Holland, Loughane East, County Cork, a hobbyist sheep farmer holding onto Dolly the Ewe who gave birth to quintuplet lambs on their farm on Sunday morning. Picture Dan Linehan
Declan Holland, Loughane East, County Cork, a hobbyist sheep farmer holding onto Dolly the Ewe who gave birth to quintuplet lambs on their farm on Sunday morning. Picture Dan Linehan

“We had quadruplets born here a few years ago and the four of them are still with us. These newborns will be staying with us as pets. For a long time.

“We’re feeding them every three hours. To be honest, it’s probably busier than looking after children.”

The family, based near Blarney in Cork, began farming sheep as a hobby in 2009 when dad Declan Holland bought two pet lambs for his daughters, Chloe, 20, twins Sarah and Megan, 19, and Amy, 22.

Chloe and Sarah spent most time caring for the animals and watched as their flock grew over the years to about 100 animals.

They were all geared up for the arrival of these five new lambs following a scan of first-time mum Dolly, a Charollais sheep, early in the pregnancy.

And it was a case of all-hands-on-deck in the early hours of Sunday morning when she went into labour. All five — four ewes and a ram — arrived within a few minutes of each other.

“It’s unusual that all five would arrive safe and healthy. The mother is doing well. She’s nursing them away fine,” Margaret said.

“But we are feeding three of them by hand at the moment because it’s just a lot of work for the mother to look after all five.

It’s now a round-the-clock operation as Declan, Margaret, Chloe, Sarah, and their younger brother, Jayden, seven, tube-feed the lambs for the next 72-hours before switching to bottle-feeding.

“We’ll keep them in sheds for a few days and hopefully, weather dependent, we’ll let them out into the fields by the end of the week,” Margaret said.

Margaret, Chloe and Declan Holland, Loughane East, County Cork, a hobbyist sheep farmer holding onto Dolly the Ewe who gave birth to quintuplet lambs on their farm on Sunday morning. Picture Dan Linehan
Margaret, Chloe and Declan Holland, Loughane East, County Cork, a hobbyist sheep farmer holding onto Dolly the Ewe who gave birth to quintuplet lambs on their farm on Sunday morning. Picture Dan Linehan

As they came to terms with the arrival of quins, the family also welcomed two sets of triplets in the space of a few hours.

And with peak lambing season well underway, the family is now looking ahead to the arrival of yet another set of triplets later this week, and another set of triplets the week after.

They will be able to catch their breath for a week towards the end of February before up to 10 sets of twins and a handful of triplets are due in the first week of March.

“We’re gluttons for punishment,” Margaret joked.

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