Once born, the lamb is licked clean by its mother. This builds a bond between the ewe and her lamb which is critical given the number of lambs in a flock. She is licking off the fluid and sac remnants. Aside from bonding she is cleaning it and getting rid of the newborn smell so that it is less enticing to potential predators. She will also make bleating noises and the lamb will respond. It’s quite the welcome! It is clear that she is very connected to her lamb(s) right from birth. Ewes appear to know how many lambs they have given birth to and it can be hard to fool them into adopting an additional lamb!
The ewe she can only touch her lamb by licking it or with her feet. She can headbutt too but that’s reserved for intruders such as other ewes or chasing away a lamb that’s not hers. She can recognise when a lamb isn’t responding as it should or in the time it should and at these times, she will use her feet to touch the lamb encourage it to try to stand up. If a lamb dies shortly after birth, the licking stage changes rapidly to the foot touching the lamb to get it to move. They seem to quickly recognise when a lamb has not survived.
Lambs are usually on their feet within minutes of birth. In addition, they are immediately looking for milk, an incredible instinct to observe for an animal just born.
I am constantly impressed with their innate ability! We have these skills too for aspects wider than the basics of life. We need to tune into them!