A tiny lamb named Wally who was born at just 900 grams has defied the odds after being miraculously saved by a farmer and his wife.
Ben Pohlner, from Warrnambool in south-western Victoria, had gone out to check on his ewes giving birth last month when he noticed one lamb had been left behind.
He wasn’t hopeful the little lamb would make it through the night but with the persistence of his midwife partner Sarah, they were able to keep the tiny animal alive.
Now four weeks on Wally has made himself at home in the Pohlner’s house and while still weighing just over 2kg – less than half of a normal lamb – he’s expected to live a healthy life.
Wally the miracle lamb was born weighing just 900grams and was around the size of a coke can before he was saved by Victorian farmer Ben Pohlner and his wife
Mr Pohlner, who runs his own vegetable farm, Volcano Produce, said the smallest lamb he had heard of weighed 930g – unofficially making Wally the tiniest lamb in Australia.
‘I didn’t even realise Wally was a lamb at first, I thought it was the afterbirth from the ewe and then it started to move,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He was almost dead at that stage and he fit inside the cup of your hands.’
Mr Pohlner immediately asked farmers around him if they’d ever had a lamb so small on their own properties.
He said all of them were shocked to hear Wally was still alive but warned Mr Pohlner it was likely he’d have to end the lamb’s life.
Wally is now four-weeks-old and despite suffering some issues with his eyesight he’s expected to live a healthy life
Mr Polhner shared footage of his two daughters holding Wally and his brother to demonstrate the huge size difference
‘Anything below 3kgs dramatically reduces survival in lambs and being only 900g the odds were really stacked against him,’ Mr Pohlner said.
‘My wife is a midwife and not one to give in, she said we’ve got to at least try.’
The family then worked around the clock to keep little Wally alive, managing to successfully milk his mother and bottle feed him with her colostrum.
For the first few days of his life, the couple along with their three daughters fed Wally every hour with Mr Pohlner likening it to a baby in the ICU.
They had to constantly change his nappy and place him in front of the fire to keep warm.
Sarah Polhner wasn’t ready to give up on the little lamb even though the odds were stacked against him
Mr Polhner says Wally is a huge ‘softie’ and loves to snuggle in close with his family
Normal lambs weigh between three to five kilograms and while the family were hopeful, they prepared for Wally not to make it.
But he’s incredibly now passed the four-week milestone for struggling lambs and despite issues with his eyesight is perfectly healthy.
Mr Pohlner said he receives regular check ups with the local vet but has recently started bumping into things around the house.
‘He’s quite determined to keep going with the limited vision he has, subsequently he gets lost around the house a bit and will just stand there baaing,’ he said.
Mr Pohlner said he wasn’t sure how detrimental his eyesight issues may become but said he knew of other farmers with blind sheep who are able to manage fine.
While a surprising addition to the Pohlner family, Wally has become the perfect distraction from Victoria’s multiple lockdowns.
‘It really did unite us a family trying to get this little lamb through,’ Mr Pohlner said.
Wally has also made quite the impression outside of the house and is now the local celebrity.
He goes on trips with the family down to the weekend markets and is swamped by other locals wanting to hold him and get a photo together.
‘Wally laps it up, he just loves the attention,’ the farmer said.
‘He loves giving kisses and snuggles, he’ll lie down with you and watch the TV and snuggle in close.’
Wally has become a local celebrity and often makes appearances down at the weekend markets
The Pohlners had to milk Wally’s mother so they could bottle feed him during the first few days of his life
Wally is now being fed every four hours with powdered milk and is not yet ready to live in the paddock with the other lambs and sheep.
As for the name, Mr Polhner said his mischievous behaviour earned him the nickname of being a ‘wally’ and it eventually stuck.
‘Right from the beginning he just demonstrated attitude,’ he said.
‘As soon as he got a bit stronger, he was letting us know when he wanted a feed or when he wanted his nappy changed.
‘We introduced him to the cat on day two and he just walked straight up and headbutted it. The cat got such a shock we hardly saw her for 3 weeks.’
Wally’s likely to remain small and will stay at just the quarter of the size of a normal sheep for his whole life – but his family don’t expect that to hold him back.
‘He’ll be this tiny ram bossing everyone around,’ Mr Polhner said.
Wally’s likely to remain small and will stay at just the quarter of the size of a normal sheep for his whole life – but his family don’t expect that to hold him back