All about lambing
About 50% of the work involved in sheep farming comes during the lambing season. It is therefore important to be well prepared for this time. Make sure not only to check the (birthing) stable but also to have all the necessary aid and disinfection products in stock.
The most important products for the lambing season:
With pregnant ewes, there are some general signs that the birth is imminent. For example, you may recognize that the ewe:
An average birth can be divided into three periods:
Most lambs are born in the head position. This means that the head, together with the front legs, comes out first. About 10% of lambs are born breech and will need help. Make sure that the lamb lies well, but be carefull in doing so. Should this fail, please seek the assistance of a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If in doubt, always consult your vet!
After the birth, it is important that breathing starts well and quickly. Remove the birth semen from the nose and mouth immediately. It may also help to pour cold water over the head and neck or to swing the animal by the hind legs. After about 30 seconds, place the lamb on the floor in the chest-down position and apply Respi-Boost breathing stimulus in both nostrils and mouth. If necessary, the lamb can be given artificial respiration by standing behind it and hooking your fingers behind the rib cage and pulling them out, pressing the rib walls back together with your flat hands. This should be done at a rate of about 10 breaths per minute.
Weak lambs can easily be kept warm with a heat lamp. It is also important that the newborn lambs receive good colostrum. Colostrum contains esential vitamins and antibodies and is also rich in energy. If it is impossible to use colostrum directly from the ewe, you can switch to artificial colostrum, such as Colstart Plus. Its composition is very similar to the original colostrum and it offers the best start for the lamb.
If a lamb is too weak to drink by itself, you can administer (artificial) colostrum using a stomach tube. Prepare the colostrum according to the instructions on the sachet and fill the syringe. Then take the lamb onto your lap with its back against your belly. Insert the tube into its mouth and push it gently into the oesophagus. It is important that the lamb swallows well and that the tube does not enter the trachea. If it does, you will soon notice the lamb coughing or struggling. Make sure not to feed through the tube longer than two days.
If you have no experience with tube feeding or have any questions about it, always consult your vet!
Around the birth and the first days of the lamb's life, it is important that the enclosure is kept clean and dry. Plenty of straw prevents umbilical infections and diarrhoea. The risk of umbilical infections can also be reduced by disinfecting the navel with iodine immediately after birth.
Most lambs die from hypothermia or poor hygiene or aftercare. Alsways ensure that the birth process is as hygienic as possible, that the accomodation is as clean as possible, that wounds and gasps are properly disinfected, that the lambs drink quickly and correctly and that they are kept warm. In this way the loss of lambs will be as low as possible!