Preparing for lambingRSS feed

Posted: Monday 27 February, 2012

by Rosemary at 3:26pm in Sheep Comments closed

Our first lambs are due on 25th March, so we're starting to get ready.

I went on a lambing course run by Ardene Veterinary Practice and Scottish Agricultural Colleges on 10th February and it was very useful. Using dead lambs and lambing simulators, we were able to practice delivering various presentations as well as stomach tubing, tailing, castrating and giving intra-peritoneal glucose injections. I had read about the last technique but would have been reluctant to try it without this practical opportunity.

On the 18th February, all the sheep - in lamb ewes, tup, wether and ewe lambs - got their annual Heptavac P Plus booster. Two ml injected under the skin protects the sheep against seven clostridial diseases including tetanus, and pneumonia caused by Pasteurella bacteria. By injecting the ewes 6 weeks before lambing, the lambs will acquire passive immunity through their mothers' colostrum. They'll start on the Heptavac programme themselves at about 6 weeks old, with two injections six weeks apart.

For the first time, I've split the lambing flock into two groups according to whether they are expecting single or twin lambs. The four with twin lambs are grouped with the four ewe lambs, while the five expecting singles have been joined by Leo and Dickie. When we put Leo and Dickie in with the girls, there was a bit of nonsense from both males and I was a bit concerned, saying to Dan that if they didn't settle down, I'd take the boys out again. Within half and hour, they were all grazing peacefully.

Both groups are now getting some 18% protein sheep nuts, but the twin bearing ewes / ewe lambs are getting more per head than the others. When feeding concentrates to male sheep, it's important to check that the feed is safe for them as some formulations can cause urinary problems. The stuff we use is from Marriages feeds and I did check with their nutritionalist, who said it was OK.

I've also been getting my lambing box together. I've revised the contents this year, following the course and reading Tim Tyne's "The Sheep Book for Smallholders". I've got shoulder length gloves this year, long acting antibiotic and calcium in the box, plus all the other bits and pieces. Tim suggested using a pony manger than will hook over a pen wall to keep the stuff in, but I've found a bucket holder of similar design that I'm going to use in the same way. I used it when we gave the sheep the Heptavac and it was really handy.

In the next week or two, we'll be finishing the lambing pens in the barn then it's a case of watching and waiting and hoping for mild, dry weather.

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