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two baby lambs sleeping

Preparing for lambing season

It’s that time of year again, lambing season. There is no better sign that Spring is on its way than the sight of new born lambs playing in the fields.

The majority of people will enjoy seeing the back of January and gently move into spring but it’s not all fun for everyone. Sheep farmers are entering their busiest period. It’s a stressful, demanding time for farmers who, even when suffering from lack of sleep, still help aid difficult births over the next couple of months.

One way to minimise this stress is to come prepared. It is important to plan ahead for a successful season and good prep will maximise the number of healthy new born lambs. To aid you in this difficult time, we have gathered up a few key tips to help ensure that you are adequately prepared. All we can say from our end is -good luck!

Stock up on key supplies

It’s a hectic time and your best bet to keeping organised is to havea lambing kit. Make lists in the weeks beforehand before you create this treasure trove, so you don’t forget anything last minute. Keep it well stocked with all the materials you need such as gloves, disinfectant, iodine, feeding tubes, bottles, teats and all of the essentials. Order well in advance as you may not have the time to dash out.

Nutrition needs

Pregnant ewes must be in the best condition possible for the last 6 weeks, as it can have a significant effect on foetal growth. Make sure that their diet is delivering the required energy and protein needs. Have a chat with your vet and keep a careful watch to ensure that all ewes are eating, and that they have enough space to eat. Also, make sure that they have a constant supply of fresh water - housed ewes on dry feed can consume as much as 6L of water per head per day in late pregnancy, and even more after lambing. 

Have pre and post health plans in place

You should also prepare a plan for disease management before and after lambing. For example, A good dosing regimen should be in place to control stomach worms and liver fluke in ewes prior to lambing.

Adequate housing

Sheep housing should be prepared in advance, at two weeks before lambing. Areas should be cleaned down and disinfected before ewes are brought in. Ensure sheds are well lit to help with checking stock and clean, dry bedding is significant in reducing the risk of spreading infection. Disease issues can also stem from overcrowding, this should be avoided as it can spiral out of control.

Manpower

Lambing season can always use an extra pair of hands whether its family, friends or students helping out. However, from the start, make sure that your helpers are aware of what is expected from them and how to react in any given situation. There’s no way to learn like getting stuck into it all.

Minimum intervention

Interference in lambing should be kept to a minimum. It’s a natural process and most ewes will do it quite successfully without your help, however this is all dependent on your lambing processes. If you do have to intervene, it’s important to minimise the risk of injury and infection. Maintain high-levels of hygiene, however don’t get mixed up - washing up liquid are not suitable as lubricants, they actually have a drying effect.

Lambing can be an incredibly intense time for farmers, and their flock too. But the key is to come as prepared as you can be. Problems will no doubt occur, from a result of inadequate management but these can be prevented, and the difference can be significant.

To quote the famous phrase - “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

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