Agridirect.ie talks early lambing, and outlines some of the steps farmers can take to prevent lamb losses before, during and after birth.
As December draws to a close, early lambing is underway up and down the country. Now, when it comes to yeaning most farmers are well used to dealing with complications and are justifiably proud of their track record in this respect.
However, none of us should rest on our laurels when it comes to lambing outcomes. Few of us will come through the season without a few losses, but we should not forget the simple steps we can take to mitigate the risk of significant losses before, during and after birth.
This lambing season, Agridirect discusses the causes of hypothermia in lambs, and looks at preventions and cures.
It’s all lambs, lambs, lambs
In parts of the country this week, you won’t pass a mile of road without seeing fields of lambs. Newborns still wobbly on their legs; stronger ones risking their first playful skips; and some older lambs that were born in a shed in the depths of winter, now grazing with the wisdom of maturity.
Although this site is enough to make us pine for warmer days, the weather seems reluctant to acknowledge the arrival of spring. Wind still sweeps in from the Atlantic, bringing with it clouds heavy with rain. Last week, this fell as snow in parts of the country, especially on high ground.
As lambing season approaches, farmers will be keen to reduce losses and maximize potential stock numbers. According to Teagasc’s recent “Let’s Talk Sheep” seminar, farmers should aim to lose no more than 12 percent of this year’s lambs from birth to point of sale. If a farmer loses more than 12% of lambs in a given year, there may be underlying factors that need rectifying to reduce lamb mortality. Continue reading “Hygiene At Lambing Time”
Feeding the ewe well in the weeks before lambing can help reduce first 24-hour lamb losses significantly. Ewes that have a good quality diet of high dry matter silage/hay and concentrates will fair better, it will help the developing lamb fetus grow and ensure the lamb has an adequate layer of fat to help provide energy for the first few hours after birth. Good feeding of the ewe will also help ensure that the lamb is vigorous when born, supplying the lamb with energy to help it stand and suck early. Continue reading “Reducing Lamb Losses in First 24hrs”
Many sheep farms are now in the final stretch of the pre-lambing period. High-quality care and management of ewes in the final 6 weeks of pregnancy are essential for good live birth rates and survival. Few people realise that 75% of lamb growth happens during this period. Farmers should be checking their flocks twice daily to check feed supplies are adequate and to observe ewe behaviours for any signs that may indicate illness. Illness at this stage could impact ewe and lamb, significantly impacting profits. One of the most frequent illnesses seen in flocks is Twin Lamb Disease. Continue reading “Twin Lamb Disease – Do you know what to do for your flock?”
Lambing time is fast approaching on many mid-season lambing flocks and farmers are starting to prepare their sheds, fixing up their lambing pens and replenishing their stocks of lambing essentials. Lubricating gel, iodine, marker spray and tail rings are being ticked off the list of requirements. Stores of colostrum are being put on stand-by. We are totally focused on the future lambing down of ewes, on how to keep lamb losses to a minimum and making sure we cover all our bases. This leaves us susceptible to overlooking the jobs that need to be done in here and now. Continue reading “Lambing Time; Have you Vaccinated Your Flock?”
It’s coming to that time of year again when sheep farmers are thinking about the mating season for their flocks. Most people are looking to the future lambing period and thinking about getting the timing right so they’re lambing at a time that suits. They’re considering how long or short a lambing period they are aiming for, what market they want to have lambs ready for and whether they are going to lamb indoors or out. While all these are important things to think about, there is an air of “counting your chickens before they hatch” about it. I used to be one of these sheep farmers, thinking solely about letting the ram out based on when I could be confident of having grass for the lambs when born. I knew that the ewes had to be in good order at tupping but as long as they had grass in front of them from three weeks out for flushing, I was happy enough to throw the ram in and let nature take care of the rest. However this attitude eventually caught up with me. Continue reading “Pre Tupping Time”
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