Healthy quads for Fetlar ewe

A remote island breeder finished his lambing season in style at the weekend – when the last of his ewes to lamb produced a healthy set of quads.

Murray Cooper from Fetlar got the surprise of his life when his Zwartebles black ewe became a mother of four.

Mr Cooper said he was “totally amazed” to see the sheep – which had not been previously scanned – give birth to her new family.

“They were a complete surprise,” he said.

“They were born totally naturally without any help.”

He added: “I was absolutely amazed. I thought it was triplets, and they were up on their feet and feeding. And then suddenly she laid down and out came a fourth one.”

Mr Cooper said one of the newborns had since gone to a neighbouring croft to be reared on a Shetland ewe.

“There was one ram lamb and the three I’ve retained are all females.”

He said the newborns and mother were “absolutely flourishing”.

He added: “She was the last one to lamb.”

Not a common sight in the isles, Zwartbles originated in the Friesland region of the Netherlands, where they were primarily used for the production of sheep milk as well as lamb and mutton.

Intriguingly, the new lambs were sired by a Dorset Horn ram – a rare breed said to be good for breeding at any time of the year.

“They’re both very uncommon breeds,” said Mr Cooper, who retired to Fetlar 10 years ago.

“The Dorset Horn ram is the only one I’ve ever seen in Shetland.”


Add Your Comment
  • Michael Goldsmith

    • May 5th, 2020 13:20

    Well done Murray (Mike ex Houll)

    • Murray Cooper

      • May 5th, 2020 17:20

      Thanks Mike. It’s amazing how swiftly news spreads.

  • Ruth Barnes

    • May 5th, 2020 18:25

    Well done, lovely looking lambs. real tonic in these troubled times
    Nice to see them after you talking about them on the Poultry Forum

  • Avalina Kreska

    • May 6th, 2020 9:06

    Murray, can you give me back those lambs I lent you?

  • Avalina Kreska

    • May 6th, 2020 15:10

    OK, make it quick, someone else wants to borrow them…

  • Graham Fowler

    • May 7th, 2020 14:37

    Congratulations Murray!
    I hope these are expertly sheared when they get a little older…I may know just the guy to do it.
    All the best, and look after yourself.

    • Murray Cooper

      • May 7th, 2020 15:39

      Thanks Graham. Coincidently I too know a guy who’s pretty adept at it. So long as you can put up with the Lancashire accent!

  • Sarah Lyth

    • May 16th, 2020 12:15

    Lovely healthy lambs as always Murray, excellent lambing rate, wonder what next year will bring?


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