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Irricana sheep gives birth to sextuplets

An Irricana farm had a rare occurrence recently when one of its sheep delivered a surviving set of sextuplets. Submitted/For Rocky View Publishing

On a multi-generational farm just outside of Irricana, Linda Wright was surprised when one of her sheep – named Bunny – gave birth to sextuplets.

“I just was so surprised as they just kept coming out.… Every time I had another one, I would lift it up like in The Lion King,” she said.

According to Wright, her nephew Curt, was seeding around the property and watched her lift up the sheep, one by one.

“Finally, he was like, ‘She's either lifting the same one up or she's having a whole lot of them.’ It was pretty funny,” she said.

The Irricana-area grain, cattle and trucking operation will be celebrating 100 years in July. Wright said sheep weren’t included in the farm’s livestock until her son joined 4-H and brought one home.

That original sheep – a resident of the family farm for nearly 14 years, and is now enjoying retirement – was present for the birth of Bunny’s sextuplets, according to Wright.

“She's been retired for about four years,” Wright said. “She was the first one that ever had lambs here on the farm.”

Following the long winter, Wright said she wasn’t sure if the season would bring many lambs, but added she worked hard to keep the mothers well-fed and healthy.

“I was so scared with the cold weather, and [I had to] make sure the mothers were in good condition,” she said. “I guess that helped, because I've never had this many – especially six.”

Regardless of the weather, Wright said, it has been a prolific year. While she said she has had sheep birth triplets in the past, she has six sets of triplets on the farm this year.

Still, Bunny blew them all away when she gave birth to four boys and two girls. According to Wright, her breeder hasn’t seen that happen in more than 10 years – particularly since the farm raises Canadian Arcott sheep.

“It is quite rare,” she said. “It's not impossible, but I guess it is very rare, especially with my breed of sheep.”

This was only Bunny’s second time giving birth, after she had triplets last year. Wright said she began bottle-feeding some of the babies to give the mother a break after an overwhelming couple of days.

“She is just a tiny thing. She could not feed all of them,” she said. “It wouldn't be healthy for her, either.”

For the first few nights, Wright said, she was up every couple of hours to help feed the sheep with a bottle. After several days of hard work, she said she can confirm that Bunny and her babies are all healthy and in great shape.

“She's an amazing mom,” Wright said. “She was great with all six babies.”

She added Bunny’s sister, Honey, had three babies of her own this year, as well.

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