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Author Topic: Lambing indoors or out  (Read 11594 times)

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Lambing indoors or out
« on: March 20, 2012, 09:35:36 am »
This has probably been asked before but I'm curious - how many of you who have lambs due from April, bring them in to lamb?  Or do you leave them to lamb outdoors?
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

Hazelwood Flock

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Dorset.
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2012, 09:39:11 am »
I have lambed this late in the past, and lambed out bringing ewe and offspring in at night to avoid foxes. Even lambing in april the lambs will need shelter in inclement weather, just a few bales dotted about for them to lie behind will do.
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Haylo-peapod

  • Joined Mar 2012
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2012, 09:54:50 am »
I typically lamb late-March/April.

I'm fortunate as the ewes come into the barn quite happily so I tend to leave them outside as long as possible and at night bring in the ones that are due to lamb imminently. If by the following morning there's still no signs of lambs arriving I put them back outside, unless the weather is inclement. Then the routine is repeated again in the evening. 

Once the lambs are born I do leave mums and babies in for a few days. Even once I do let the lambs out I still bring them in at night until they are a week old. Granted it's a lot of faffng about but it works for me and my flock....and stops me stressing about foxes with the very young lambs.

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2012, 09:59:25 am »
I lamb outdoors and then as soon as born I spray navels and if the weather is coldish bring mum and baby/s inside for a day so I can check that they are feeding well and also so I can castrate the boys and so they can get dry and warm.

At a day old (or less if they are ewe lambs and the weather is nice) I pop them out again.

Mind you mine are Shetlands so tough and hardy and good mothers. Hay ad lib out there and Mum gets a handful of nuts a day for a while. Spoil them I do!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2012, 11:01:03 am »
By March, we lamb everyone outdoors but if the weather is cold, especially if wet and cold, we bring in anyone who looks like she'll lamb overnight, or anyone with very very new lambs, for the night.

We're in the far north of England, so it is cold up here!  But our ground has lots of reshes and other natural shelter, which the ewes make good use of, nestling their lambs in a clump of reshes or behind a hummock of tufty grass.

We do use the clear plastic macs for some thin-skinned young lambs if the weather is unkind.

We have foxes a-plenty but an experienced ewe is more than a match for a fox.

We only use iodine on navels when we have lambs born indoors, or coming indoors as newborns.

We bring hoggs and first-timer shearlings, or any other group where we could expect problems, in to lamb if we judge it best to do so - but lambing indoors can create its own problems so we'd always prefer them to do it outside if there is no reason not to, then we can bring them in once they've lambed if there are any issues to deal with.

Not sure where you are, Remy, or what breed you have, but if you're further south than us with a breed that has a decent covering of wool, the ewes have done it before, and there is some natural (or manmade) shelter, I would have thought they could lamb outdoors in April alright.

Hope that helps!

Sally
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2012, 11:27:22 am »
Clearly it depends on where you farm, what breed/s of sheep you keep, what buildings you have, and your personal preference.
We used to keep Jacobs and had been told that they had to be lambed indoors but after a few years with problems every year we started lambing them outside with much better results.  Our primitives (Hebridean, Soay and Shetland) have always been lambed outside.  The earliest we start lambing is the last week of March, but now we time it that April Fool's Day marks the start of our lambing  ;D  (We are in southern Scotland at about 1000 feet)
We don't have facilities to bring all our ewes in to lamb, nor do we keel mark or scan to have an accurate lambing date for each ewe, so we let them do their own thing outside.  We do have plenty of small wooden shelters outside so they can lamb in those if they wish.  Often they lamb off in a corner but either they or we bring them into a shelter once the ewe has cleansed.   We have an emergency pen set up in the polytunnel for bad weather/mothering up problems/lamb stealing etc.
We do use iodine for all our lambs - we have a good look at them as soon as they are born, check sex, do umbilicus, put in mini temp eartag, check eyes of multi-horned Hebs, do ewes feet if she needs it, the ewe gets a feed of concentrates and a bucket of water (somewhere where the lambs can't fall in), and so on, everything you would do if you lambed indoors but done out in the field or in one of the shelters.
A possible drawback of lambing outdoors is nightime checks, but actually I love wandering around in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep, but the stars are out and the oyster catchers are calling.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2012, 09:16:25 am by Fleecewife »
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Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2012, 12:58:38 pm »
I live in north Shropshire and it's generally quite mild at this time of year apart from exceptional weather, I have always lambed from early April.  My breeding ewes are a crossbred and two mules, five pedigree Charollais, and three Gotlands.  From next year I will also have some Zwartbles.

The first year I had four ewes, and two lambed outside (first time mothers), but this is because I didn't know they were pregnant (the ram raddle crayons didn't work!  ::)).  One lamb I found dead in the field and the other running around with its mum!

Following year I brought them in and it worked well as I have a large stable (20x20ft) which I penned off with hurdles and the sheep fit in nicely, it's useful as it adjoins a field and it's easy to herd them into it.  The year after I used the same.

Last year I had another five ewes and still managed to use the stable as the ewes lambed over the next fortnight making it very easy to put one family out and bring another in.

This year I have another three pregnant, making a total of eleven, which might make it a bit tricky to use the stable, as it's hard to keep it totally disinfected being as it has an earth/brick uneven floor.  I do have a very large barn on the other side of the yard and a small paddock near it, so was thinking about bringing the pregnant ewes into the paddock and if there are problems I can bring them into the barn temporarily, but obviously this isn't as easy as having them inside in the first place.

So far none of mine have never lambed at night, which makes life a little easier!  :)

I do think that outside is healthier from the point of view of germs etc and is more natural for the sheep.  The drawback is that it's not so easy if you have a flighty ewe who is having problems!
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2012, 01:48:09 pm »
Remy, I would concentrate on having the first-timers handy; the experienced ewes should know what they're about by now.  Also, your Charollais sheep may have rather bare lambs, so maybe keep them more handy if the weather is inclement, and/or use the clear plastic macs.

I expect you'll just know what to do when the time comes; listen to your instincts.  :)
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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

tizaala

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Dolau, Llandrindod Wells,Powys
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2012, 05:20:11 pm »
We are lambing in an old dutch barn atached to our stables it is enclosed on 3 sides and gated off on the open side ,so lots of shelter with fresh air, a nice deep straw bed that the ewes dig a nest in and every one is content.

wellies

  • Joined Jul 2010
  • Shrewsbury
    • Fairfax Ryeland Flock
    • Facebook
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2012, 05:24:34 pm »
Hi, I'm in Shropshire too and I have brought the ewes in at night and turned them into a small paddock in the day. Two have lambed outside and the rest indoors. The ones who lambed outside were taken into the stable for a couple of days as it was really rather chilly. All of them still come in a night but that's mainly due to me panicing about leaving them out rather than any real danger due to predators or cold I think  ::) I found it much easier to lamb indoors as my ewes all seem to think it's a bit of a party when a lamb is born and try to get involved much to the mothers horror, at least indoors they could all be sectioned off  ;D

Muttley94

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • Scottish Borders
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2012, 06:54:40 pm »
I'm from the scottish borders and have 4 mules and a Jacobs which is a first time mum. I was gonna leave them out but in a smaller paddock where I can keep a better eye on them since the weather is surprisingly nice. What do you guys think? Silly question but it's my first lambing so any advice is great  :)
Pretty new to all this sheep-keeping :) tiny smallholder since October 2011 - 4 ewes, 30+ hens and a Jack Russell :)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2012, 07:08:59 pm »
I bring mine in at night - makes it easier for me to check them. I keep ewe and lamb in for a couple of days just to make sure all is well then they go out. I usually put some small straw bales out for the lambs to shelter behind if the paddock doesn't have much shelter from the prevailing wind.

We have the facilities to do this, so it seems daft not to.

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2012, 11:53:12 pm »
I lamb outdoors and don't have access to sheds  - if I have to pen a ewe, I'll do it in the field. Try to choose a field with plenty of hedges/cover...Mine love to lamb under one particular briar, which I can only access by crawling, but all the lambs seem to wander out OK.

The key with outdoor lambing is to leave them alone if you possibly can. I tend not to iodine, but I do keep performance records so I tag very quickly. Don't go spoking them with torches at night, check them at dawn. When ewes are left outside, they tend to lamb about an hour pre-dawn so you have plenty of time checking at first light.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2012, 11:55:09 pm »
With very small numbers of sheep, so long as there is plenty of ventilation, I guess there's not much of a problem with having them indoors overnight for a day or two.

I could write pages about the problems of having large numbers indoors, of which the most severe is the spread of infection to the newborn lambs, necessitating Oroject or similar prophylactic antibiotic, obsessive pen-cleaning and disinfecting, etc.

The other main downside, which would apply however many sheep you have, is that nothing makes milk like grass does!  So a mum, especially of twins or triplets, really needs to be outside on grass that's growing, if at all possible.  (And yes, I know, the grass won't be growing at night!  It's still better for lactating animals than hay or silage, though.)

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 cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Remy

  • Joined Dec 2011
Re: Lambing indoors or out
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 08:02:22 am »
Well all my ewes have gone onto good grass now, it suddenly went from hardly anything to growing like crazy in the last week!  I need it eaten down before the horses go onto it.  This morning was the first time I haven't had loud baaing for food  :)
1 horse, 2 ponies, 4 dogs, 2 Kune Kunes, a variety of sheep

 

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