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‘She knew they needed a mummy’: mare fosters three orphaned lambs

What do you get if you take three orphaned lambs and one friendly mare? A new and unusual arrangement, in one Somerset family’s case.

Becky Popham’s Welsh section A mare Heidi has taken the trio under her wing and is even feeding them, despite the fact she last had a foal five years ago.

Becky told H&H she took on the lambs – Prince, George and Dewdrop – from a nearby farmer as they needed a home when their mothers died.

“I put them in with Heidi as they needed to be somewhere secure,” she said. “She was really friendly towards them; they’d stand underneath her and keep near her legs, then when she came in from her nights out, she’d lie down and they’d climb all over her.

“She’s got a big stable and open area, big enough for them all to share. I had them separated but they wanted to get in with her, and she’s taken them under her wing.”

Becky said Heidi has been like any other mother, not only telling the youngsters off if they overstep the mark, but also producing milk to feed them.

“She’s not producing a lot of milk but she is lactating, and she’s feeding them,” she said. “I ran it past the vet and he said it’s absolutely fine, and it’s just one of those random things of nature.

“She lets them latch on and they butt up into her udders like lambs do – and she stands there and licks them, it’s very cute. She obviously knew they needed a mummy.”

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Becky is still feeding the lambs three times a day, while Heidi looks after them overnight. They will stay with the family as pets and to keep the horses company, as well as benefiting the grazing. Becky said having them is “part of my roots”, as her late father was a sheep dealer.

And “motherhood” has had an impact on Heidi too.

“She’s become a bit calmer,” Becky said. “She was a bit woo-hoo with the spring grass coming through but since the lambs came, she’s chilled out a lot, like a mummy.”

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