Laming and Records

Ewe with twins

Laming the exciting and busiest time for a sheep farmer. I do a lot of planning starting with when to breed the ewes, which ram to breed which ewe to and proper feed. Then I wait five long grueling months, which to me seems like a very long time for lambs to start appearing.

Everyday is a busy day for me. I have grain to give the animals as I have more than just sheep. I check water tanks and the livestock pond. I bring in the horses and let the sheep out on pasture during the day. The horses are on pasture at night. All these things are doing everyday and then laming starts and my work load increases a lot.

When I notice a ewe is getting close to laming, I move her to an individual pen or laming jug. This means I have to water using buckets and individual feeding equipment. I will check the ewes in the laming pens or jugs every hour or two during the daylight and two to three times after it is dark. I spend a lot of time looking at sheep. I like to watch sheep.

Ewe starting to birth a lamb showing a clear mucus plug and front foot

When the ewe goes into labor or birthing, I will keep a watch from a distance. If the labor has gone to long or if I see a problem with presentation, I will assist the ewe with laming. For the most part, I leave her alone and let her do her job. My work usually starts after the lamb or lambs are born.

Ewe with newborn lamb

Once the lamb or lambs are on the ground and standing, I will go in the pen with what I call my lamb kit. The lamb kit contain: tincture iodine, cups for iodine, lamb sling and scale for weighing, identification tags, scissors, probiotics and tail bands.

Identification ear tags being attached

The first thing I do is write down in a notebook just for recording lambs, is the ear tag number of the ewe for identification of who the lamb belongs to. Next, I will catch the lamb and place an ear tag in the lamb’s right ear. I write this identification number next to the ewe’s number.

Weighing newborn lamb in a lamb sling

Next I will weigh the lamb by placing the lamb in a lamb sling that is attached to a hand held digital scale. I write the weight down.

Trimming the umbilical cord
Iodine on umbilical cord

My next step is to trim the umbilical cord only if necessary to the length of 1 inch or two finger widths. I will then put iodine in a cup and immerse the umbilical cord and area in the iodine. I put iodine on the umbilical cord and area to prevent naval ill or joint ill, an infection that can cause death in a lamb.

My last step is to give the lamb some probiotics. I think is gives my lamb a little boost with absorbing nutrients when they are first born.

I will watch the ewe to make sure she “cleans out” or the placenta and birthing material comes out of the reproductive organs and see that the lamb or lambs find a tit and nurse.

Before I turn the ewe and her lamb or lambs out with the flock, I will put on a tail band.

When the lambs are two weeks of age and starting to eat grass, grain and hay, I give them a CDT vaccination. I will administer a second booster shot in 3 weeks according to the directions.

Laming is an exciting time as I get to see how and if I improved the genetics of my sheep with the choice in ram to ewe. Lambs are the income of raising sheep. Strong, healthy lambs will grow better and faster than sick lambs. Taking care of the lamb when it is first born and watching to make sure it is doing well for a few days before putting them in the flock helps to have lambs to wean and sale.

This is my system, but you should talk to a veterinarian in your area for the best system for you.

Granny

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