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Author Topic: Checking ewes during lambing  (Read 489 times)

tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Checking ewes during lambing
« on: January 29, 2020, 09:00:45 pm »
I went to the second part of a lambing course today - more info on lambing losses for me to ponder on. Free lunch and learn a lot so all good though!

So it got me thinking a couple of things. First off - the ewes that are coming in - how often should we check on them? And second - the ewes that are lambing outside - again, how often, but is there some other type of light that can be used? I imagine flashing a high beam around could maybe disturb them? Or should we just not check them at night?

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twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2020, 10:53:12 pm »
I lamb inside, check every 3-4 hours day and night. Normally in the day someone is around to look in even if I pop out, at night I check around 10-11pm then again at 2-3am and then up for 7am. If anyone is lambing then check more often.


I haven’t lambed outside but always read not to disturb them after dark.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2020, 02:20:26 am »
Outside, check first light for new lambs and anyone thinking about lambing soon.  Then broadly every 2-3 hours, more often of course if anyone is clearly preparing to lamb, or if the weather is such that you need to be checking newborns within 20-30 minutes of birth. 

Last check before dusk, giving yourself time to bring in anyone who looks like lambing into bad weather or likely to have a problem. 

I never like leaving newborns I haven't seen feed, but sometimes you have to use your judgement whether bringing them in creates more risk than leaving them to get on with it.

And yes, the sheep prefer that you don't go out disturbing them with a torch.

By far the majority of lambs are born shortly before or after dawn, and next most popular is around dusk.  But enough do it in the middle of the day to mean you can't risk not checking between 10 and 3!  lol

Indoors, every two hours at least.  Overnight you can usually get away with longer - but be prepared to get caught out occasionally!  You have to find the right balance for you and your flock.  If you are so diligent you become exhausted, that's not good!  If your indoor space is very roomy and your sheep generally don't have problems, you can leave it longer.  If the sheep are fairly packed in, or you sponged so expect a lot of lambs in a short space of time, you really don't want to be leaving it long enough for two or more to be on lambing and getting the lambs jumbled up.  So in the latter case, I'd do checks every 2-3 hours through the night too.

Of course if you only lamb a very small number of ewes (as we do this year - just 7), and didn't sponge or tease, then the likelihood of several lambing at the same time is pretty small, so you can leave it a bit longer.  But if they are first-time mums lambing indoors, you don't want the lambs wandering off trying to suckle the wrong ewes...

My indoor lambing experience was in Northumberland with with Mules (so fabulous mums but a high incidence of triplets) and any Swaledales we thought it better to have indoors.  Different sheep, different risk factors, so someone else might find 4 hourly checks are fine for their sheep and their system.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2020, 07:53:36 am »
I have only lambed indoors and small numbers.  We have left the stable lights on until the last of us goes to bed so we can do late evening checks with less disturbance.  The first up puts the lights on and does early morning check.  If anything is close/overdue then a get up in the night happens, although this year has been different as I now have cameras in the stables and barn so I have rolled over in bed and looked at the sheep via camera on my phone.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2020, 09:37:06 am »

It really depends on the sheep and what they are used to. Ours are used to having me walk amongst them with a torch because these days I get home from work after dark and count heads each evening using a head torch.


If yours are a way off lambing, why not try it now (gently) and see whether they're bothered or not!
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2020, 11:03:50 am »

It really depends on the sheep and what they are used to. Ours are used to having me walk amongst them with a torch because these days I get home from work after dark and count heads each evening using a head torch.


If yours are a way off lambing, why not try it now (gently) and see whether they're bothered or not!



Agree. I sometimes think that the more sheep you have the less you worry about this because looking several hundred sheep a day and fitting in the rest of your farming doesn't allow for this type of worry. Also agree with Womble's first comment. I know a farmer who only looks his sheep twice a day and he doesn't have problems because he has bred for good lambers.  Obviously, if you have a first time gimmers or a high maintenance breed you adjust.


I go first light. Mid morning. Mid afternoon and last thing. Inside, which I haven't done for a couple of years. I'd scan shed on passing because I'd be on yard anyway.


Again only having a few it takes you a while to get comfortable with reading signals and I think you can be too diligent and get animals on edge. You can spend all day worrying about one sheep due to lamb.


Have all your lambing kit ready. Have a good torch and spare batteries. Before you dive in and do anything, step back and think through what you've seen, what you think is happening and if you are going to intervene be clear what you are going to do and why. By the time you have done that the lamb has hopefully arrived.


When I started lambing I thought the process should be quicker than it is and I learnt to just to take a couple of minutes to think through what was happening and maybe then do nothing.




tommytink

  • Joined Aug 2018
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2020, 08:48:22 pm »
Thanks all for helpful advice as always!

We have eight lambing in. All natural tupping, no sponges etc. Their dates are over a two week period so fairly spread out. Plus we have two that were revisited so may well be much later. The building we have is not massive but should be right for them. Planning on a communal area and then three or so pens for bonding. So if I check these on average every 3 hours, overnight do I just turn the light on? Or leave it on all the time? Or hope the moon’s shining?! Just thinking it similar to the torch principal outside. If a lambing starts would you stay to see it all goes okay or just check at more regular intervals? 
And also, as it’s a small number, could I get away with bringing them in in two batches? If they all come in together some will be in for a lot longer. Just thinking less sheep means less bacteria, and also thinking about the darn ram again being on his own! If I could get a sort of conveyor belt going he could stay in the field.

And outside basically leave alone overnight but check as late/early as possible and consider any adverse conditions at the last check. I might try testing them with a torch at night just out of interest.

I will remember to stop and consider each decision I make before rushing in. And remember that it may take a little time and not panic; assess the situation.

First time for me and first time for them, so if I can stay relaxed then hopefully they’ll stay calm as well.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2020, 08:58:57 pm »
Sometimes I leave the light on, if it all looks quiet I turn it off and either check by torch light or turn the lights back on for 5 minutes. It doesn’t seem to bother my sheep or the cattle that they share the shed with if the lights are switched on.


If I have a ewe actively lambing (think proper pushing!) I tend to give her time but pop in every 10-20 mins to make sure things are progressing. I don’t go too far away. If she’s not had the water bag out or is in early stages of lambing (pawing at the ground, getting up and down) check every hour. But that’s me and my sheep- as everyone says it’s what works for you. Once I’ve seen a ewe has gone hollow at her flanks (just in front of her hips/pelvis) I will keep a close eye as they generally lamb within 12 hours when this happens.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2020, 07:19:19 am »
I have invested in CCTV this year which is fantastic because I can check on them more frequently without leaving the house.

I go out and physically check at around 10pm, 1.30am, 3.30am and then usually 6.30am. This year its a pain as the ewes started cycling late and it will be spread over 6 weeks.

I would leave a light on overnight. The biggest issue is disturbing the sheep when you check them. Any on the early stages of labour will stop what they are doing and watch you if they are aware of you. I creep out and watch them from outside the barn  without them knowing I'm there.

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2020, 08:37:24 pm »
Lambing in I'd attempt to keep feeding and lights off to the same routine every day and check at 11pm-5am, stay up if there is stuff going on. Outside before dark and at first sniff of light

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Checking ewes during lambing
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2020, 09:12:53 am »



Agree. I sometimes think that the more sheep you have the less you worry about this because looking several hundred sheep a day and fitting in the rest of your farming doesn't allow for this type of worry. Also agree with Womble's first comment. I know a farmer who only looks his sheep twice a day and he doesn't have problems because he has bred for good lambers.  Obviously, if you have a first time gimmers or a high maintenance breed you adjust.



This is very true ----but i would also observe that people with smaller numbers of sheep tend to overfeed them and this leads to all sorts of problems at lambing
Ewes in good body condition (not fat) that can exercise (walk around fields) and are left to lamb where they want without being under close observation will have the least problems around lambing

I'm lambing outdoors and don't get out until an hour or so after sunrise , by then most have lambed and any with potential problems are easy to identify

A ewe's worst enemy at lambing is the over zealous shepherd that just can't wait to interfere


 

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