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Lambing preparation and collecting colostrum


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Hi everyone,

 

After a rather stressful fist time lambing last year where everything seemed to go wrong and I lost a few lambs, I want to be better prepared this year. I have 8 mature ewes and 7 first time lambers. I would expect twins and triplets from the mature ewes and singles from the first time mothers. Most of them I bought in this year so I dont know them well.

 

Last year I collected 10 litres of milk from a ewe that lost her lambs, so I have that in storage to blend with milk replacer if required. I will buy stomach tubing and syringes just in case as last year I had to tube a couple of lambs.

 

This lambing I would also like to collect some colostrom as the ewes start to lamb, so I can always have some in storage. I am expecting the mature ewes to start lambing first, but they are likely to have multiple lambs. How much colostrum could I safely collect without affecting their lambs and what period of time have I got to collect it in.

 

Can you think of anything else I need. Last year a couple of lambs got really cold, do you use a heat lamp or water bottles if this occurs. As I am building my flock, each lamb is precious.

 

I have been working then gently with my dogs for a short period on most days and getting them used to running through my yards. They were pretty feral out of salt scrub country when I got them earlier this year, but they are getting used to the dogs and yards.

 

Thanks

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I've not had sheep (not lambing ones) but we had dairy goats for years - when I had a chilled kid (and this is what I do for chilled calves, if they need it), I would bring it in and put it in a warm tub of water for a while; towel it off; and keep it in a warm place (I've even used a small heat pad under a folded towel under the baby, with another towel or light blanket over top.

 

Also, getting some warm colostrum, replacer, or milk in helps but not ever being successful at tubing, I have had to wait on this until the kid revived enough to respond to a finger in its mouth by sucking, even weakly.

 

There are some good shepherds here who will give you good and useful feedback, I am sure. Also, you might want to try the Edgefield Sheep Production Forum (here).

 

Best wishes!

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Bill has some excellent advice on treating hypothermia in young lambs. A search on the Edgefield forum will help.

 

ewes that have adequate nutrition and are not too fat will be the best at lambing. I only collect colostrum from ewes with singles; I generally won't take any from ewes with multiples.

 

We use a hair dryer for warming lambs, on a heating pad in a box. You need to monitor since you don't want them getting too warm. Also, if a lamb is over 24 hours and needs warming they MUST (actually over 5 hours) have nutrition first by either tubing or giving dextrose IP; they will die of shock if you don't give them nutrition before warming.

 

Try not to interfere too much unless needed. Calm is always better and if she is mothering well I don't interfere for 4-5 hours, unless lambs are getting lost (which can happen with triplets).

 

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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I would caution against heat lamps (though I have used them in the past) in barns because of the fire risk. I will use one in the house where I can keep an eye on things (lamb in a laundry basket; lamp hung high enough not to roast lamb). If you catch them early enough and get them in a draft-free spot with a sweater (or plastic bag--they're great for holding in warmth) on, they usually will be okay.

 

Cynthia,

I thought the rule was that you don't feed the lamb until you've got it to a certain temperature because a severely hypothermic lamb's GI is essentially shut down and so it can't process anything you stick in there anyway (unless you do an IP injection of glucose).

 

J.

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Thanks for the replies. I can see I have much to learn. Last year I had a couple of hypothermic lambs. The ewe had gone down during lambing with a possible nerve compression in the back end. When I found the lambs they were nearly dead from cold. I immediately got some colostrum into them from the ewe and tried to get them on their feet. One eventually died and the second one never really thrived and died some weeks later despite leaving him with the ewe and supplementing him as he never really suckled strongly. The whole afair was rather heartbreaking and I am thinking that I should have taken them off the ewe to warm them up properley.

 

On a better note I did bottle feed a rejected triplet and despite having only about 10 mls of colostrun which is all I could extract, and getting the scours, she was feisty and thrived. I returned her to the paddock as early as I could so she could bond with the flock and continued to bottle feed her. Today she is a fine healthy ewe who although she is not afraid of me she keeps her distance and is intergrated with the flock.

 

Thanks for the tip on the Edgefield sheep production

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Cynthia,

I thought the rule was that you don't feed the lamb until you've got it to a certain temperature because a severely hypothermic lamb's GI is essentially shut down and so it can't process anything you stick in there anyway (unless you do an IP injection of glucose).

 

J.

 

If they can hold their head up you can tube them. The IP injection is a much quicker source of energy; I usually do both, so the IP is quick and as they warm up they can start to process some milk replacer. If they can not hold up their head, it must be propped up or they will regurgatate and aspirate milk replacer... Many of these problems are related to a)not enough colostrum and/or attention from the mother or b)weather..although weather shouldn't be a huge problem (except we just lost triplets in a severe thunderstorm...crap)

 

C

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  • 1 month later...

After experiencing a small issue pasture lambing, I now try to lamb in "jugs"..or at least have the ewes confined abit..makes it easier for me to help, if needed...espc with a skittery ewe. My last one to lamb was like that..if she'd been out in the pasture, I dont know what I would have done..I had to pull her lamb and she is not very friendly.

 

I agree with Cynthia on the Dextrose injection..it usually brightens the lambs considerably.

 

Heat lamp or space heater on the lamb, in the house, seems to help with hypothermia too.

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