Tips for lambing/kidding

The following are a few reminders or checks during lambing and kidding:

  • Colostrum bank: Have a ready supply of frozen colostrum (from ewes/does or cows) or colostrum powder.
  • Check ewes/does immediately for milk / colostrum.
  • A lamb should receive colostrum within the first 4-6 hours of life. Consider tubing or feeding for lambs/kids at risk. These are lambs/kids from triplets, lambs/kids from old ewes, lambs/kids from difficult births and lambs/kids from diseased ewes (mastitis etc). Consumption should continue so that the lamb has had about 800ml in the 1st 18 hours.
  • Dip or spray lambs navels. Ensure to replace iodine dips regularly as they can act as a source of bacteria for infection. Repeat at 36 hours.
  • Keep a record of the number of sheep that have aborted. If this number is over 2% of sheep/goats that have already lambed/kidded, contact your vet. An infectious agent/disease is likely to be the cause of over 2% of sheep/goats aborting.
  • Permanently mark/identify barren ewes/does and ewes/does that have suffered problems such as prolapse uterus/vagina or mastitis or chronic lameness, check teeth etc.

Before lambing/kidding

  • Purchase fresh elastrator bands – they’re cheap and will prevent problems which can result from brittle bands breaking.
  • If you need more ear tags order them well before lambing starts and make sure your tagger is in working order.
  • Crutch or shear ewes 4 to 6 weeks prior to lambing.
  • Make sure ewes/does are getting adequate nutrition and exercise as lambing/kidding approaches. Ewes/does who are too thin or too fat are more likely to have lambing problems.
  • Inventory lambing/kidding kraals, feeders, water buckets and lambing/kidding supplies BEFORE lambing/kidding starts. Repair or replace as needed.

During lambing/kidding

  • Once ewes/does have lambed/kidded and are in lambing/kiddingkraals it’s easy to worm, give annual vaccinations and trim hooves.
  • Use small water buckets in lambing/kidding kraals to eliminate possibility of newborn lambs/kids drowning.
  • Dip tail bands in 7% iodine before using to reduce the chances of infection.
  • For accurate birth weights we use a digital scale to weigh the lambs/kids.
  • Keep a wide mouth insulated mug in with your lambing/kidding kit. It makes a handy container to milk into if you need to milk a ewe for colostrum.
  • Keep unscented baby wipes on hand for cleaning hands when hot water isn’t available.
  • Take photos of the lambs/kids within a few days of birth (while still in the lambing pens) to help identify them later if ear tags are lost and to help document colors, patterns and fleece. Also, consider filling out a checklist on each lamb to help with recordkeeping.
  • Keep a thermometer on hand and check temperature on sick ewe or lamb before deciding on treatment or calling a Vet for advice. Inexpensive digital thermometers work great and can be purchased at any drugstore. Normal Body Temperatures: 38-39oC for adult sheep/goats and lambs/kids

After lambing

  • Make sure ewes are getting enough nutrition to support growing lambs/kids.
  • To help prevent mastitis discontinue grain and/or alfalfa and feed the ewes/does grass hay for 5 to 7 days prior to weaning
  • To minimize weaning stress, leave lambs/kids in place and move the
  • Lamb/kids toes grow fast – at about 3 months of age start checking to see if their toes need trimming.
  • Review lambing/kidding results and start making decisions about which ewes/does and rams/bucks to use next year. If you decide to get a new ram/buck start looking early.
  • Clean and repair lambing/kidding equipment and store everything away for the next lambing/kidding period.
  • Don’t forget to take time to sit, watch and enjoy your lambs. They make all of your hard work worthwhile!