Top Tips for a Successful Lambing SeasonMarch 6, 2014
Although the lambing season can be any time between December and April, it would seem that March is going to be the mother of all months in 2014 for our West of Scotland farmers!
Traditionally the lambing season heralds the metaphorical birth of springtime, so as the first lambing day looms, our Hamilton Brothers farming customers are stocking up with a whole raft of pre-lambing products from feeder buckets, bottles, teats, sprays and gels to colostrums, fluke treatments, vitamin supplements and mineral drenches. Here’s our step by step guide to a productive lambing season, what to look out for and what to buy.
Your Lambing Season Questions Answered by our Animal Health Team
How and When Does the Lambing Season Begin?
The process starts in late Autumn when the tups (rams) are put in with the ewes.
How Long is the Gestation Period?
The gestation period is usually 145 days. From 2 months into the pregnancy, many flocks are scanned to identify multiple births or barren ewes. Farmers will then separate the ewes accordingly as this dictates feeding requirements. Ewes should also be stressed as little as possible, so avoid excessive handling.
Are there any Feeding Implications?
Yes. As the pregnancy advances, the rumen (paunch) capacity of the ewe reduces therefore typical forage feed of grass, silage and hay is too bulky so the sheep is unable to ingest sufficient nutrients. At this stage farmers should introduce cereal based concentrates as smaller quantities produce more nutrition.
What about Vitamins and Minerals?
As in humans, vitamins and minerals are of optimum importance for healthy pregnancies. Indeed, many farmers report that drenching ewes with vitamin and mineral drenches prior to the breeding season dramatically increases fertility and repeating the process 5 weeks prior to lambing leads to livelier lambs during the birth process. We recommend products such as Provita , Ovithrift or Kilco Mineral Drenches to our customers.
What is Clostridial Disease?
Clostridial diseases are transmitted by bacteria found in soil, but they can also thrive naturally in the gut of a seemingly healthy sheep. Did you know that whilst not all farms are susceptible, typically most will be threatened by one or more of the strains of the disease namely tetanus, black leg, struck, black disease, lamb dysentery, pulpy kidney, braxy or bacterial red water? Any one of these can prove fatal, but administering a vaccine such as MSD’s Heptavac or Bravoxin 10 4-6 weeks prior to lambing will ensure that the breeding ewe’s colostrum has high enough levels of antibodies to protect the newborn lambs.
Is it Safe to Use Fluke Treatments on Expectant Ewes?
Grazing sheep and cattle are exposed to fluke at all times (assuming there is fluke on that particular farm). It is advisable to treat ewes prior to being put to the tup with Triclabendazole, the drug found in Tribex Oral Drench. If they are treated again during pregnancy it will help reduce the fluke and worm burden on the pasture at lambing time.
Where Does Lambing Take Place?
There is no hard and fast rule in the West of Scotland as our native sheep (and farmers come to that) are hardy annuals!! Some farmers prefer indoors and some outdoors.
Last minute preparations include clipping any dirty tails and udders but it’s important that farmers are ready for every eventuality prior to lambing commencing so we would suggest having ample supplies of the following:
- Lamb Colostrum, Lamb Milk, Calcium 20% C.M.D. (for twin lambs).
- Flukicdes and Wormers,Vitamin Drench, Twin Lamb Supplements and Marker Sprays.
- Disinfectants, Lamb Feeder Buckets, Rubber Rings, Elastrators, Lamb Feed Bottles and Teats and Disposable Gloves.
- Lamb Reviver Tubes, Plastic Lamb Covers, Prolapse Harness, Suture Tape and Needles, Lambing Aid, Lambing Ropes and Lambing Gel.
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