Optimise your lambing routine

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On average, 10 to 25% of total lamb deaths occur within the first 48 hours after birth. But this could be reduced to 5% by improving lambing routines.

“For indoor lambing flocks having clean, dry lambing pens is crucial to reduce the spread of bacterial infection,” explains Nia Williams, Nettex technical manager.

“Ideally, cleaning pens out after each ewe would be the most effective way to reduce the build-up of bacteria in the environment, but this is not always practical.

“Using a highly absorbent bed conditioner, that also contains a disinfectant, is a manageable way to reduce the likelihood of disease spreading from animal-to-animal,” she says.

Ensuring ewes have enough room in the pen is another simple method to reduce the risk of deaths caused by smothering. “I’d recommend individual lambing pens to be at least two metres squared to ensure the ewe has enough space. This will also help reduce mis-mothering, another major cause of lamb deaths.”

Ensuring lambs have rapid access to a quality source of colostrum, whether from the ewe, or from an artificial source, is another vital consideration.

“Again, I’d always recommend having a quality artificial colostrum on-hand that has a high digestible fat content and contains concentrated dried colostrum, egg proteins, and ewes milk such as Nettex’s Ultra Concentrate, to give lambs an extra energy boost when needed.”

Lastly, Mrs Williams explains the importance of navel dipping as part of the lambing routine. “Fully immersing the navel in a 10% iodine solution, within the first 15 minutes of life, will help avoid the navel being a potential source of infection.

“For an extra line of defence, I’d also advise dipping the navel again, two to three hours later.

“Although there are several factors to consider during lambing, focusing on these three management factors; hygiene, colostrum management, and navel dipping, will help maximise lamb survival, health, and ultimately the bottom-line,” adds Mrs Williams.