'Pretty unusual': Tasman sheep gives birth to quintuplet lambs

A Tasman farmer was shocked to find her pet ewe had given birth to not one, not two, but five little miracles. 

Julie Webb-Brownlee had previously joked that Charlie may give birth to five lambs this season, but never actually thought it would come true. 

Pre-pregnancy scanning indicated that Charlie - an East Friesian and Awassi cross - would probably give birth to triplets. 

So Ms Webb-Brownlee was shocked when she found five healthy lambs by Charlie's side at the beginning of the week. 

"It surprised me how 20 sets of legs came out non-tangled," she says. 

"When I saw that she had five lambs it was a bit of a shock because of the joke I made previously. I wasn't surprised because she was a barrel before she gave birth."

Quintuplets are a pretty rare sight, Beef and Lamb Senior Agricultural Analytics Manager Ben Hancock says.

"It's pretty unusual."

'Pretty unusual': Tasman sheep gives birth to quintuplet lambs
Photo credit: Supplied

Charlie's breed was brought into the country for their high lambing rates and milking so triplets or quadruplets aren't unheard of, but five lambs is considered "high". 

The four-year-old mother had a rough time when she was born, and Ms Webb-Brownlee was unsure if she would survive. 

"When she was born we found her on her own with no mum. We thought we were going to lose her.

"We popped her in the sun, managed to get some colostrum down her, and here she is now."

She's been a proud mum ever since, giving birth to 12 lambs in her lifetime. 

The Nelson farm predominately breeds sheep for their milk which is made into cheese.

The five lambs haven't been named, but there's no doubt the four ewe lambs will go on to follow in their mother's footsteps and become cheese-makers themselves. 

The one ram lamb will also be kept, destined to be a stud.