Keith Martin with the five lambs this week.

Ewe cannot be serious!

A Ballinasloe farmer has beaten odds reckoned to be at least one million to one by welcoming rare quintuplet lambs at the end of last month.

For some, this might have been much ado about mutton, but for Keith Martin, who farms in Aughrim, this was something quite different and some welcome good news during the coronavirus pandemic which has kept us all grounded and mired in bad news.
He says the five purebred Charollais newborn lambs are in “flying form” since their unexpected arrival on April 20.
“She (the ewe) was scanned for four lambs. We brought her in when she was sick to lamb. I took out the four, the first one was coming the wrong way, and then there were three to follow. I didn't even think to check for another one. I gave them colostrum and they started to stand up, and then went in for my dinner, ate it, and came back out and Jaysus, here is lucky number five. I couldn't believe it,” Keith recalls laughing heartily.
“I've never had five before, I've had four alright but five, no. For all to be alive and no problems is rare. There are two males and three females,” adds Keith.
Asked how they are progressing since, the Ballinasloe farmer confirmed they are thriving aided by regular bottle feeding by his partner, Kate, who has been caring for them daily as the Charollais mother would not have enough milk for all five.
In normal times the new lambs would have attracted visitors and locals to keen to have a look but the government restrictions have put paid to that, sadly. However, they certainly have given all on the farm something to smile about during a busy spring lambing season which he says is about to conclude shortly.
Keith, who had 420 lambs to ewe this year, mainly Suffolk/Texel cross, actually only has 18 or 19 Charollais sheep for breeding so the odds of quintuplets among that breed were miniscule.
“We've only about 20 left to lamb so it'll be no harm, we'll be delighted to get away from it,” he says of the lambing season which is now thankfully almost over.
“It was a great bit of something positive away from the coronavirus. I mean it's hard to listen to it all. This is a bit different,” Keith, who also keeps a lot of horses for selling and showing, mainly cobs and hunters, along with red/white head suckler cows on his farm ends.