Newborn lambs are aplenty at this time of the year, and with lambing season in full swing there's no sign of it stopping any time soon. Each new lambing season will teach you something new, and a little bit or a lot of preparation before the lambing season is key, and which will lay the foundation for a successful lambing season. Whilst the majority of these tips are well known to many, these 10 tips are all practical ways to maximise the survival of lambs, and help you have the most successful lambing season yet!
Good hygiene is something that goes without saying, but it can quickly go out the window when you're getting hands on delivering the ewes. Hygiene plays a big part in the lambs survival, and you should ensure that each pen is cleaned out and disinfected before each birth, hands should be fully washed and clean gloves should be worn when assisting ewes to avoid any bacterial transfer between animals. Other procedures that can be done are:
- Avoid water leaks
- Use metal or recycled plastics for creating pen divisions instead of wood (much easier to clean)
- Iodine drips should be cleaned out and filled regularly
Carried out 4-6 weeks before lambing, it is recommended to vaccinate sheep against clostridial disease, this is the perfect time frame to vaccinate as it will transfer the right level of immunity to lambs, any closer to the lambing period will be stressful for the ewes.
#3. Nutrition Is Key
Vitamins and minerals are of optimum importance for healthy pregnancies, and some farmers even give high doses of this to sheep before lambing season as this can increase fertility. A procedure like this should also be repeated 5 weeks before lambing season kicks off, this will help the survival rate of lambs at birth.
#4. Sickness & Abortions
If your sheep start getting ill or aborting, you should seek veterinary advice immediately. Waiting even a few hours can be detrimental for the unborn lambs and the pregnant ewe.
#5. Feeding Colostrum
Last month we discussed the importance of helping newborn lambs by feeding colostrum, feeding colostrum to a newborn lamb within the first few hours of their life is the key to their survival. It provides them with much needed nutrients and energy that will keep them out of the danger zone of hypothermia.
#6. Mark Lambs & Ewes
Lambs and ewes should be marked as soon as they are born, this allows you to easily identify the lambs and know straight away which ewe they belong to.
The castration process shouldn't begin until the lamb is at least 24 hours old, this gives them more of a chance of survival and finding its feet. However, castration does need to take place before the lamb is seven days old.
#8. Fresh Water
Always make sure that you are giving the ewes fresh water, dirty water that has been sitting around for a while could contain harmful bacteria. To determine whether the water is safe, take a glass and take some from the feeder, and ask yourself whether you would drink it.
#9. Create Small Paddocks
Letting sheep and ewe stay in one paddock is a breeding ground for infection. We would recommend creating small paddocks in the fields with electric netting. This will keep the lambs from straying, and from other animals getting in.
#10. Make Sure You're Well Stocked Up
Farmers really do need to prepare for every eventuality during the lambing season, and being well stocked up is one of them! It's suggested to make sure you're stocked up on a number of different nutrients and vitamins, cleaning and feeding supplies and marker sprays for identification.
These tips will make for a successful, and hopefully stress free lambing period, the key to success is preparation after all! Keep up to date with our latest blog posts and updates on the Waterman's Facebook page, Twitter and Google+.