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Students and Lambs are Learning at Green Chimneys

November 18, 2017

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January 27, 2016

Green Chimneys School students have been learning about animal body language, familial relationships, biology and more from our guests: a set of ewes and their babies.

Since the arrival of 4 pregnant sheep in November, we’ve been writing about the perks of a partnership with a nearby farm to host the ewes through delivery and into the first few weeks of the lambs’ lives. (Read about it here and here).

On Monday, we observed an interesting interaction as one ewe fed her babies. Body language in animals is very subtle, and most people underestimate the ongoing “conversations” animals have with each other often without making a sound.

As seen in the video, the mother sheep is in the process of nursing her lambs. Both white lambs are pushing periodically into the udder to help “let the milk down” as they drink, wagging their tails in typical lamb fashion. The dark lamb appears to be looking at the scene with curiosity and eventually makes a very confident stretch, head raised, pressing his little forehead upright in a dominant way toward the adult. It’s a bold and confident move for a little lamb to make – keep in mind adult rams fight by butting heads – and the adult immediately “puts him in his place” by air-butting back with her head to let him know that she was not impressed. He gets the message and backs off. Her priority is her lambs, and while she was not really threatened by the dark little lamb, she recognized what he was trying to say in his movement.

“This kind of interaction is an important learning process for lambs, to test their body language, to find their rank within the herd and to learn about all the other sheep in the flock. In the herd, adults are very patient with lambs, and the youngsters can take a lot of liberties, but setting boundaries is also part of the learning,” explains Michael Kaufmann, director of the Green Chimneys Farm & Wildlife Center and head of The Sam & Myra Ross Institute.


Last week the final set of babies were born on our Brewster campus, one ewe lamb (girl) and a ram lamb (boy). We’re so grateful for the opportunity to share new life with our students, some of whom struggle with making emotional connections or have difficulty communicating their feelings. Interactions with animals provide children with special needs the chance to learn hands-on; interactions also  enhance students' therapeutic experience at Green Chimneys.

The lambs will soon leave our campus to return home to their farm, moms introducing lambs to the herd. But for our students, the chance to see baby sheep grow and connect with their mother and siblings will be another memory of their time at Green Chimneys. Living, learning, growing.

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