Posted on February 3, 2014
Lambing can be an intense process, requiring a lot of time and a variety of equipment. Blue Seal is ready to help with a few tips and supplies to relieve the pressures of lambing.
Sheep have a gestational period around 5 months, but will only show around the last month and a half, when rapid growth occurs. Impending birth is demonstrated by the ewe acting abnormally (restlessness, wandering off, pawing at the ground, teeth gritting) and her udder filling with milk.
Imminent birth is indicated by the presence of contractions and an increase in fitful behavior. It might take up to 4 hours for one or more lambs to appear. Singles or twins are common, multiple births less so. Directly after birth, the mother should clean the mouth and nose of the newborn lamb. This stimulates breathing; if breath is not present, encourage it by tickling the newborn's nose with straw. Allow the mother to clean the newborn with as little assistance as possible. Sheep imprint and bond by smell, and interrupting this process may cause the mother to reject the lamb. A healthy lamb will begin to stand (with assistance from the mother) within about an hour. At this point the umbilical cord should be cut down to an inch long and the remaining stub doused in iodine or sprayed with Terramycin. The mother sheep's teats should be stripped to be certain the wax plugs are not interfering with milk production. Remove the afterbirth whenever it shows, sometime in the next 8 hours.
If it is particularly cold, a hair dryer or heat lamp may be used with care to help warm the lamb. Do not leave unattended electronics around sheep, as they may knock them over and start a fire. Provide a bucket of warm water for the ewe. A few tablespoons of molasses may be swirled in to encourage her to drink. The ewe should be provided with fresh hay and plenty of water.
Lambs should be weaned at 6-8 weeks. However, a balanced starter feed can be fed about a week after birth, along with pasture or mixed hay and fresh water. It is recommended to vaccinate lambs against enterotoximia(an over-eating disease) prior to offering the lamb free choice, starter feeds. A feed containing a coccidiostat is also suggested for the prevention of coccidiosis, which is not uncommon in young lambs. We recommend using a high-energy, highly digestible pellet beneficial for both lambs and ewes such as Blue Seal's Lamb Starter-Grower Pellets. After which, you may want to switch to Blue Seal's Lamb BT Medicated Pellets or Lamb Finisher Pellets. All Blue Seal brand Lamb Pellets contain supplemental vitamin E and selenium to help protect against White Muscle Disease, Ammonium Chloride to aid against urinary calculi and extra zinc to aid against copper toxicity.
Sheep are very sensitive to feed changes. To help prevent sudden changes in the diet and maintain digestive health, Blue Seal sheep feeds are carefully consistent, fixed-formula feeds. Since dietary mineral imbalances can cause Urinary Calculi, a common problem, especially in finishing lambs and breeding rams. Sheep also have a low tolerance for copper. For this reason, sheep should never be fed horse or cattle feeds, or any other livestock minerals with added copper. Such feeding mistakes have been known to cause copper toxicity resulting in death. Blue Seal sheep feeds and minerals supplements proudly contain no added copper.