Being well prepared is essential for a successful lambing season. We've put together some top tips to consider before the newborns arrive, including everything from getting your housing facilities ready to using the Flockwatch app to remove the paperwork and stress!
Carry out a stock-take on lambing equipment and consumables and make sure everything is on hand before your lambing start date. Ensure you can check off the following list before starting:
Iodine (for disinfecting navels- 7% Concentration).
Consumable supplies such as - Lubricant, gloves, ropes, drenches, syringes, towels, plastic sleeves, feeding bottles and teats, uterine boluses, halters.
Check your medicine cabinet stocks and determine if medicine is within date.
Check your stock of artificial colostrum - this is critical for the beginning of lambing for unexpected arrivals or ewes with poor colostrum supply e.g. young ewes. It is also advisable to keep lamb milk replacer on hand.
Colostrum Handling and Storage Facilities
Colostrum is liquid gold for lambs and provides passive immunity from birth. The target intake for new born lambs is 5% of bodyweight 4 times a day for the first day of life or total of 20% of bodyweight. For example a 5kg lamb will need 250ml every 6 hours.
Although backup powered or artificial colostrum is available you should aim to use dams own milk where possible. The next best thing is stored ewes milk from your own flock. Fresh colostrum can be stored for up to 6 weeks in a fridge or for up to 6 months in a freezer. Colostrum can taken from ewes that have single lambs and will have an excess of colostrum or from dams or have lost their lambs.
Fresh - 6 weeks
Frozen - 6 months
Use own flock - sourced if possible to avoid disease transfer flock to flock
Store correctly i.e. readymade sealable colostrum storage bags and flat storage for ease of thawing.
Thaw frozen colostrum slowly to body temperature as exposure to heat above 40 degrees will denature vital proteins and destroy the valuable immunological components.
Ensure lambs receive adequate colostrum based on weight as described above.
Practice Good Hygiene
Practicing good hygiene is critical at lambing time. Ensure lambing pens are clean and dry, before and after each lambing.
Disinfect equipment between use e.g ropes.
Change gloves for every new lambing.
Avoid housing sick ewes in the same house as healthy ewes to minimise disease transfer.
Clean and fresh water should be available to ewes and lambs at all times.
Clean all lamb feeding equipment such as bottles and teats immediately after use in hot water and soap as milk scum can build up quickly.
Keep yourself clean- clean clothing and boots and change if soiled after lambing.
Note: Exercise caution when handling lambs from multiple ewes without changing gloves or washing hands in between. Mixing the smell of newborn lambs can cause the dams to reject their own lambs!
Get your Lambing Groups and Pens in Order
Best practice is to pen ewes according to scanning results e.g. litter size. Think ahead, and also have an 'extra care' pen available for unexpected events such as triplet lambing's.
Make sure all pens are clean and disinfected. Inspect for damage and repair as necessary.
Remember you can create groups and smart lists in Flockwatch, straight from the app so you'll know who's-who when it comes to your ewes. Flockwatch also allows you to record weights in the app, so you can monitor growth rates of lambs quickly and easily.
Use Flockwatch to record Lambing Details
To record a lambing follow these few steps.
Tap on the orange plus button (+).
Tap on lambing record or use the search bar above to search for this option.
Tap on the ewe who's lambed.
>Fill in the required details, Date of birth, season born, lambing number and how many lambs she had.
*There is also an option to record if any lambs have aborted or if there was embryo transferred.
Tap the next button and this will bring you on to fill in the details of each lamb.
Fill out the gender, if they have been tagged you can put in their tag number if not they will be recorded with a lambing number.
Once details are filled in for each lamb press the save button.