Lambing season is underway for some and down the road for others, but it’s always smart to be ready well before it begins.
“Ewes seem to want to deliver in the middle of the night and during a blizzard, so it’s good to be prepared for everything,” says Amy Powell, Extension livestock specialist with Iowa State University.
By the time lambing approaches, she says ewes should be sheared around the rear and in the udder area. Ewes should also be vaccinated roughly four weeks ahead of lambing to ensure the colostrum is most effective.
Powell says separating ewes by gestation stage is also a good idea ahead of lambing.
“This allows them to get the nutrition they need, and it will also cut down on feed costs,” she says.
Powell says some producers may use ultrasound to determine the number of lambs, but finding that technology is not always easy.
“It would let you know what’s coming so you can be better prepared,” she says.
Barns should be set up for lambing, and certain supplies should also be on hand, such as iodine, colostrum replacement, towels and blankets. Fresh bedding should also be nearby.
“Don’t microwave the frozen colostrum,” Powell says,
Heat lamps should also be checked to make sure they are working properly.
Stomach tubes and bottles should also be on hand.
“The two biggest causes of death for new lambs are hypothermia and starvation, and both can be prevented,” Powell says.
Make sure there is more than one option for bottle nipples, says Jennifer Lutes, a specialist with the University of Missouri.
“Lambs can be very particular, so you want them to have options,” she says.
Lutes says many producers bring ewes under a roof prior to lambing. Many use cameras to keep an eye on the pens, which gives producers a head start when it comes to potential health concerns.
“Keep an eye on them, and watch for behavior that is out of the norm,” Lutes says.
She also encourages producers to check ewe nutrient requirements.
“You don’t want them too thin in the last stage of gestation,” Lutes says. “You want to make sure she stays in good shape.”