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Posted By: Kate - Farm Vet

Lambing season is underway

Lambing season is upon us again. It is a busy and exciting time of year for sheep farmers and vets alike.

I work as a farm vet but also have a small flock of sheep of my own. I love lambing time; being there to watch new-born lambs arrive in the world, stand up on their shaking legs and go looking for milk is one of my favourite things.

Sheep are pregnant for 5 months with the majority of lambs being born in the early spring months. This means at this time of year, ewes are heavily pregnant and if you are out walking near sheep it is crucial to keep your distance and keep your dog on a lead. Stress from being chased by a dog is a common cause of miscarriage in sheep and is devastating for the ewe and farmer.

The key to a successful lambing season is in the preparation. 

Many sheep farmers now scan their ewes to find out how many lambs they are carrying. This helps with management as ewes carrying twins, triplets or more can receive extra food and attention. Good nutrition in the weeks leading up to lambing can greatly improve health in ewes and lambs. Vaccinating ewes prior to lambing will help provide the new-born lambs with immunity to common diseases through their mothers’ colostrum (first milk).

Preparing the lambing environment is important. Clean dry pens and adequate access to food and water is essential. I recommend having a few essential items such as gloves, lambing ropes and pain relief medication to hand ready to help with common problems.

Ideally ewes will give birth by themselves with very little intervention. However getting training and experience in knowing how and when to help is important. There are courses available to people new to keeping to sheep and experienced vets and sheep farmers are often happy to help.

Then there is the care of the new-born lambs once they have arrived. Ensuring lambs get enough colostrum is crucial. Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mother and is full of antibodies that provide the lamb with immunity from diseases. Treating the lamb’s umbilical cord to prevent infection is essential.

We have been running a lambing workshop as part of our smallholders club every January to help people new to keeping sheep or embarking on their first lambing season or even those who just want to know more about how to get the best out of their lambing season. On next Lambing Workshop will be held at Shepton Vets on Wednesday 29th January at 7pm. If you would like further information on our Lambing courses contact Kate Hayes on 01749 341761. 

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