Katie Reports on Recent Lambing Workshops

Thank you to everyone who attended our Lambing Refresher Workshops throughout January and February. It was great to meet so many people from such diverse backgrounds, with such a range of experiences. There were some brilliant discussions and experiences shared throughout the courses, which even the vets learnt from!

There were a few main take home points from the workshops:

Vaccination – Make sure your ewes receive their annual booster against Clostridial diseases and Pasturella 4-6 weeks pre-lambing. This allows enough time for the production of antibodies which the lambs will receive in their colostrum.

Body Condition Scoring – This was a major point stressed throughout the workshops. Your ewes should be in condition score 3 at lambing time. Any thinner or fatter hugely increases the likelihood of them having metabolic or birthing problems around lambing.

Appropriate feeding – Ewes should be fed according to body condition, litter size and forage quality. Make sure they are fed concentrates to provide them with enough energy in the lead up to lambing.
Twin Lamb Disease and Hypocalcaemia are common metabolic diseases around lambing, which require quick and effective treatment. Therefore, it would be useful to have these essential treatments in your medicine cabinet.
Abortion – If any of your ewes abort it is important to mark and isolate that ewe and collect up any aborted materials, as these can be the source of infection to other ewes, and bring them into us as soon as possible to investigate the cause of the abortion. It is also really important to note that most of the agents that cause abortion in sheep are zoonotic, which means they can also cause abortion in humans. Therefore any pregnant women should not be anywhere near the ewes around lambing time.

Stages of Labour

First stage: Seeks isolation, nesting and restless, stop eating, lick lips and star gaze, stretching, uterine contraction, mucus appears at vulva – lasts 3-6 hours.

Second stage: Continued contractions, lamb appear in vagina, abdominal straining, water bag bursts, lamb is born - Should last 30 minutes. However, if no progress is being made within 45 minutes, investigation should be carried out by inserting a clean, well lubricated hand to see what’s going on inside.

Third stage: Continued contractions, passing of placenta, bonding of ewe and lamb. (The placenta should be passed within 3 hours in ewes).

Remember the key is: Maximum supervision with minimal interference

Finally, good luck to everyone who is lambing in the upcoming weeks and please don’t hesitate to contact the practice for any advice or assistance.