Baby sheep coats

Although many farms coat only their adult sheep, we coat our flock nearly from the moment of birth. Minutes after a lamb takes its first breath, I clip the umbilical cord and put on its first coat. Throughout the year we collect sweatshirts and sweatpants from our own household and from clothing donated by others. When breeding season begins, I turn these items into homemade coats for our newborns. Although the original instructions are archived in our blogs, I thought it might be time for a repeat, making the guidelines easier to find.

Step 1: Cut off sleeves or pant legs to length. Discard rest of sweatshirt or sweatpants.

Step 1: Cut off sleeves or pant legs to length. Find other uses for the remaining sweatshirt and sweatpants.

STEP 1: You will get two coats out of every pair of sweatpants or sweatshirt. Lay out the garment on a flat surface and cut off the arms or the legs to lengths that correspond to a baby lamb. I cut them to different lengths (ranging from 6″ to 17″) because lambs come in all sizes. We have short coats and long coats, and everything in between. Keep in mind that if you make them too long, you can always cut them down, but if you make them very short, there’s no remedy later.

Step 2: Cut along the seam to the cuff - but DO NOT cut through the cuff!

Step 2: Cut along the seam to the cuff — but DO NOT cut through the cuff!

STEP 2: Cut along the seam found in the underarm (for sweatshirts) or the inner leg (for sweatpants) from the cut edge up to (but not through) the cuff. If you are using sweatpants with elastic at the cuff, be careful not to cut into the sleeve that holds the elastic.

STEP 3: For knit cuffs (not elastic ones), turn the cut made in step 2 down toward the table and cut through the cuff that now faces up. If the cuff is stretched out, a short cut to the seam where it attaches to the sleeve might be enough. Otherwise the cut can go an inch or so past the seam and into the sleeve. Either way, you’re creating a neck opening that will be comfortable for your lambs as they grow into your baby coat.

Step 3: Cut through the cuff on the side opposite the seam to enlarge the neck opening for growth.

Step 3: Cut through the cuff on the side opposite the seam to enlarge the neck opening for growth.

STEP 4: At about the middle of the coat and slightly away from the opened bottom seam, cut a small slit about 1/2″ – 1″ in length through both sides of the coat. This will accommodate the tie under the lamb’s belly. I sometimes make these slits in a couple of different places along the coat so that I can use the same coat for shorter or longer lambs by simply moving the tie from one set of slits to the other. This is optional, however; you can make one set of slits and simply use those.

Step 4: Cut small slits through both layers about midway down the side and near the cut seam - this will be used for the tie.

Step 4: Cut small slits through both layers about midway down the side and near the cut seam — this will be used for the tie.

STEP 5: Tie a piece of shoestring about 12″ long through the slit on one side, keeping the ends approximately even. This step prevents the tie from getting lost during use or in the laundry. Your baby lamb coat is now ready to use!

Step 5: Add a piece of shoelace (about 12" long) for a tie - tie it to one side to avoid loss.

Step 5: Add a piece of shoelace for a tie, and knot it to one side to avoid loss.

STEP 6: Put the cuff over the lamb’s head — if the opening is too small, you can always extend the slit on the top of the cuff to enlarge the opening. Feed one end of the shoestring through the second slit and tie under the lamb’s belly. The coat should allow the ewe to freely sniff under the lamb’s tail for easy identification and bonding.

Finished baby lamb coat on one of our lambs - note the tie underneath and the larger neck opening due to the slit at the top of the coat at the neck.

Finished baby coat on one of our lambs. Note the tie underneath and the larger neck opening due to the slit in the cuff at the back of the neck.

 

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4 Comments

  • Erika says:

    Thanks for posting these instructions! The lamb coats are adorable and look like they are easier to make than the ones we made last year from fleece. Have you ever tried using elastic instead of shoe strings to give the coats more ease? We will definitely have to try your coat instructions for this lambing season. We’ll be needing more than the 4 we currently have.

    • Dee says:

      Shoestring is cheaper than elastic and when you make as many coats as we do, that little bit makes a difference. Besides that, once they outgrow these, they go into the size 19 Rocky coat, so they don’t wear these that long. When we use shoelaces, we buy the longest laces we can find, cut the ends off, and then cut them into about 12″ lengths. Doing this makes the cost of each coat very reasonable! Good luck!

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