The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: ChalkyBee on March 14, 2019, 09:54:05 pm

Title: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: ChalkyBee on March 14, 2019, 09:54:05 pm
Hi, I have got my first small flock of shetlands - 4 ewes. 2 are pregnant and are expected to lamb the first week of April and this will be my first lambing (I will have assistance if needed though!).

Everyone I have spoken to inc. the vet thinks they’ll lamb easily but i’m Worried that i’m Not prepared enough.

I have iodine & colostrum and heading out for more supplies tomorrow. What would you reccomend? Any advice gratefully received!
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: Ermingtrude on March 14, 2019, 10:33:21 pm
Having had my first lot 2 years ago, then second lot now ( 6 lambed, one to go ) I went to a lambing course run by the local vets. They gave great advice, and advised to stock up on powdered colostrum, gloves, twin lamb drench, ear tags, bands for tails/man parts ( depending on what you are wanting to do ) stomach tube if I was confident to use one, and they also talked about antibiotics and calcium injections. I worked on the basis that if calcium or antibiotics were needed, it was out of my depth already, and the vet would be involved, so didn't get those. I made sure I had towels, bedding and hay, food for the ewes, enough feeding troughs/bowls and hay holders, and the vets number on speed dial !

Good luck - you will be fine :)
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: twizzel on March 14, 2019, 10:35:40 pm
Lube, lambing ropes, lamb kick start for weak lambs, a heat lamp, arm length gloves, twin lamb drench- ketosaid is great stuff not just for twin lamb but if a ewe needs a boost after lambing. A prolapse spoon or harness- you probably won’t ever need it but when you need one in the middle of the night it definitely can’t wait till the shops are open! Stomach tube and syringe and a bottle/teat- the Ritchey bottles with yellow screw tops are great for small lambs. Plenty of patience too!
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: Scarlet.Dragon on March 14, 2019, 10:44:57 pm
Colostrum is a good standby just in case the ewe doesn't have milk... but then again the merchants will have it in stock and it's unlikely you'll need it... plus it will go off before you lamb next time so not essential.  You will need bottles, teats and a syringe or tube feeder if you do need to intervene on feeding.

Iodine IS essential because you'll need to thoroughly soak the navels of the lambs in it!

My kit includes everything I could think of, and it's all unused!  I could supply the vet if they needed something obscure!  However, that was a mistake on my part and I probably wouldn't know how to use half of it if it was needed!  A thermometer is always good if you don't already have one in your first aid kit; towels, just in case you need to help rub them clean and dry.  Everything else you can get from the vet or feed merchant if/when you need it. 

Lube and gloves are important if you would be confident to do an internal to help get lambs out if she's struggling, but if you're going to call in help at that stage then the likelihood is that the vet or experienced shepherd you're relying on will have those and can bring with them. 

As an aside, have you given the mums their booster vaccinations to ensure peak antibodies are transferred to the lambs to keep them safe for the first few weeks until they are big enough to have vaccinations?

You may also want to speak to your vet about worming the mum's after they've given birth, as this will be a peak activity time for the worms (there is always a dramatic rise in worm burden at birthing) and you don't want to contaminate your pastures before the lambs go out onto them.  May be an idea to do FEC's now and immediately after they've given birth to see the results but talk to your vet about options and to get advice on risks from worms and cocci.

Good luck and enjoy it when the time comes... there's nothing quite like a sleeping bag and hot water bottle in a barn with snow against the doors and wind howling through the rafters to make you feel good about new life!

As others have advised you, it's highly likely your girls will do the job on their own without assistance and the less you interfere the better... but, lamb kick start is a good option to have to give them a boost early and it can be added to mum's feed to use it up as it'll do her good too.  Ceto-Phyton is also a great booster particularly if there's a risk of twin lamb in the run up to or after birthing; you can always use it up in their feeds even if they don't need it to give them a boost.

Porridge oats are absolutely essential!  Your first job after they're born and you're happy that they're ok is to leave her to clean them up and make her a big bowl of water based porridge... it's a nice easy meal for her with a good source of energy to see her through her first day with them.  Once you've made it (on the stove not the microwave), make yourself a tea or coffee and drink it so that it's cooled sufficiently not to burn her mouth when you take it back to her. 
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: SallyintNorth on March 14, 2019, 11:17:05 pm
I have never yet needed to help a pure Shetland ewe produce or feed pure Shetland lambs, except an older ewe who had one teat overlarge the lamb couldn’t get his mouth around.  The lambs are born small and very active, they and the ewes seem to know exactly what to do and need no assistance from us.

My number one piece of lambing equipment is binoculars, so I can keep an eye on things from afar and not worry the ewe. 

You’ll be very unlucky to get any problems. Enjoy it!  All lambings are wonderful, but nothing will ever quite beat your first one :)
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: twizzel on March 15, 2019, 06:14:00 am
Colostrum is definitely on the essential list- if you have a ewe lamb when the shops are shut and the lamb needs a colostrum substitute, it needs it within the first 6 hours of life, so by the time the shops open it will be too late.


I’ve never fed a ewe porridge after lambing,  but they are always partial to their normal ewe nuts or coarse mix after they’ve licked the lambs dry.


I think everything I listed I’ve just multiple times this year, on a supposedly easy lambing breed that caused all manner of problems for me!  :yuck:  Don’t panic when they start lambing- it is surprising how much stress a lamb will with hold whilst the ewe is lambing if things aren’t going to plan. We had a couple of lambings this year where things went wrong and still had live lambs
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: Fleecewife on March 15, 2019, 12:19:32 pm
First off, Shetlands do not get their tails banded.  They are a Northern Shorttailed breed and cannot be registered if the tails have been ringed.  For testicles, with this breed you are unlikely to be able to get a ring on for the first few days as they are small in that department.


As Sally says, Shetlands very rarely need assistance, and are best left to get on with it in peace, with you keeping an eye on them from a discreet distance.   Don't fuss them and they will know what to do especially if they have lambed before.


My best advice is to know beforehand what a normal, unassisted birth looks like so you have an idea of timings, how much effort the ewe will exert, how to clear the lamb's airway with your fingers if it doesn't lift its head promptly.


For the births themselves, you need 10% iodine in a mint sauce type jar, old towels, baby wipes, disposable gloves and self confidence.  Lambing ropes, spoons and so on are not something you are likely ever to need, and you can get an emergency vet out at any time of day or night if it goes wrong.  We also have a long acting Penicillin available, but again if you don't know when to use it you would have a vet there anyway.
Title: Re: Lambing shetlands (my first time!)
Post by: ChalkyBee on March 15, 2019, 07:43:20 pm
Thank you, some great advice! Feeling a bit more confidant, and know that two neighbours & the farmer across the road are available to help if needed has def put my mind at rest. Bought some of the things, just in case as would rather have it available if needed than not, and already have iodine ????????

As far as i’m aware they are up to date with their vaccinations as they were done with their previous flock just before we got them last week.

They have ewe pencils available, hay and grass, and we’ve popped up a temporary shelter. Thankfully we’re based south so the weather isn’t so bad.

They are all pure shetlands and both lambed before so really hoping it’ll all happen without any issues but def feeling more prepared now. Thanks all! This forum is ace!