advance preparation for lambing

The lambing period is a stressful period. Advanced preparation of the lambing equipment can improve productivity and reduce stress.

A cleaning-disinfecting protocol and an inventory of all lambing materials (gloves, lubricant, lambing ropes, aid to align lambs heads during birth), prolapse harness/retainer, iodine for navel disinfection, thermometer is required. At birth ensure access to: frozen colostrum, feeding bottles and teats, stomach tubes, heat lamp, milk replacer. To assist ewes: syringes and needles, oxytocin, energy boost, injectable calcium and antibiotics (under veterinary advice). Lastly: marker spray, tags, disinfectant for lambing equipment and bedding and disinfectant for pens (e.g. straw, lime), fostering crate and basin for wet fostering lambs to a surrogate mother.

During the birth period, the shepherd needs to follow the lambing process and to know how to assist lambing. Dystocia is one of the most important contributors to deaths in newborn lambs. The main causes of dystocia are a disproportionate size or poor presentation of lamb, abortion and prolapse. Assisting difficult births requires practical and theoretical knowledge. The neonatal period is the most vulnerable period in a lamb’s life, therefore understanding the significant risks can help to develop preventative strategies such as additional feeding in the last pregnancy period and reduction of environmental stress factors.