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New-born Lambs: The Importance of Observation at Lambing

17 March 2015

UK - Lambing requires close observation of new-borns, ensuring lambs have the right start they need, says a veterinary surgeon with the Food Animal Initiative.

A post-partum routine should involve a tick-list of behaviour which, ideally, the ewe and lamb(s) carry out by themselves.

Laura Higham, a veterinary surgeon at FAI’s Oxfordshire farm says membranes wrapping around the lamb need to removed, if not by the ewe, then with something clean and dry.

“Lambs should be on their feet and starting to suckle within minutes of birth,” says Laura. “Ewes should be very interested in the lambs, licking them, getting them clean and dry.”

Breathing can be motivated by rubbing the chest, which has the added benefit of removing any membranes, adds Laura. Licking from ewes also achieves this.

Sufficient colostrum is imperative in early stages, says Laura, adding that recommendations call for 50 millilitres per kilo of liveweight within two hours.

“That amounts to roughly 200ml within the first two hours,” explains Laura. “Colostrum is rich in antibodies, protein and energy – it’s a real life-line for the lamb.”

Protocol on the FAI farm is to lamb their 1,200 ewes inside, giving 10 to 15 minutes for lambs to acclimatise to their environment. Once on their feet and suckling lambs can be moved into pens.

Lambing videos

View more FAI lambing videos by clicking here.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.

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