Lambing

Two months before lambing

  1. Condition score ewes to determine whether extra concentrate feed is required for any individual

  2. Check that feet are in good condition and footbath if necessary – turning at this time is not advisable but may be required

  3. Four weeks before lambing

  4. Inject ewes with Heptavac-P plus booster (to encourage production of high quality colostrum containing plenty of antibodies)

  5. Check contents of lambing box - the lambs needing the most care often arrive early, so be well prepared in good time.

  6. Disinfect housing sheds and prepare pens

  7. Feeding – to maintain ewe condition, support lamb development and colostrum supply. Depending on condition start feeding 4-6 weeks prior to lambing with 16% protein ewe pellets, beginning with 1/2lb each / day and rising to 1lb / day at lambing and for 2-3 weeks afterwards. Don’t overfeed as this can create too much milk and the risk of mastitis; in the case of ram lambs it may also result in too much horn bud growth and a difficult lambing

  8. As soon as possible after lambing and the lamb is on its feet, check teats of ewe are clear and treat lamb’s navel. Pen the ewe separately with her lamb to allow bonding. Some hours later check that the lamb has sucked colostrum from both sides, and that the ewe has cleansed. In the single lamb situation there may be a tendency for the lamb to suck one side only so check a day or so later to see that both sides of the udder are soft.

  9. If the lamb is slow to get up and may not have sucked, check temperature and follow instructions for hypothermic lambs (a very good section is contained in Eales & Smalls’ ‘Practical lambing and lamb care’ – see below for details).

  10. For the first couple of days keep an eye on your ewe, the lamb/s grow most in the last six weeks of the ewe's pregnancy and the rapidly increased bulk can lead to the ewe being unable to take in sufficient forage to sustain her and the  developing lambs she needs to provide for. If this problem is not addressed the ewe can quickly develop Twin Lamb Disease which is a frequent cause of death. Hence the need for the provision of hi protein concentrates. Then watch the ewes carefully as you put the concentrates out for them to feed. If any ewe hangs back and appears reluctant to come to the trough or worse still turns away it is a sound policy to assume she is developing Twin Lamb Disease and drench her with Twin Lamb  Formula as directed on the bottle. If the signs are picked up early and the Twin Lamb Formula is drenched into the ewe you may save her but once the disease takes hold the outcome is doubtful. Twin lamb formula is also effective in assisting a ewe which is lying exhausted  after a long and difficult lambing. Always have a bottle in your lambing kit!

  11. Ewes should be wormed and their feet checked and trimmed before turnout. Check with your vet for a recommended wormer – cydectin can be useful at this time to reduce worm counts on pasture before the lambs begin to graze.

 

Lambing kit

  • Navel dressing (iodine + 10% phenolate/ antibiotic iodine* spray or dip)

  • Towels

  • Colostrum (powdered substitute or frozen)

  • Stomach tubes (and the knowledge to use them)

  • Lubricant gel (this is also antiseptic) or soapflakes

  • Thermometer

  • Source of heat – infra-red lamp/ hairdryer or fan heater/ Aga slow oven

  • Torch

  • Notebook (with pen attached)

  • Thermos for hot water (disinfecting lambing ropes, for making up colostrum or even coffee)Lambing rope/aid

  • Disposable gloves (normal and arm length)

  • Disinfectant handcleanser (eg Hibiscrub)

  • Nailbrush

  • Straw, hay, fresh water, feed

  • Buckets

  • Old warm clothes and waterproofs

  • Elasticator and Rubber rings

  • Ear tags & applicator (check DEFRA requirements for double tagging)

  • Halters

 

Desirable extras

  • Prolapse retainer or harness.

  • Syringes and needles*.

  • Antibiotic injection/intra-uterine pessaries*.

  • Beecham scour formula (of Effydral*).

  • Lamb stimulant (DopramV drops*).

  • Feed bottles & teats + ewes milk replacer (eg Lamlac).

  • Adopter crate.

  • Head restrainer for ewe.

* available from your vet

 

Sources of Lambing advice:

  • A friendly neighbouring farmer who may be called on for advice through your first lambing difficulty.

  • Consult your vet before lambing so that they know you are inexperienced, and will be able to offer advice on equipment and techniques such as stomach tubing.

  • A lambing course at your local agricultural college.

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