Hoping that effort at lambing will pay off
Published 22/02/2012 | 06:00
The lambing season has begun. For the next eight weeks or so, the farm will be busy and full of new life. Spring is a time of year that I always look forward to, anticipating what the new crop of lambs will be like. What is that ram I bought last autumn producing?
I see it as a very important time of the farming calendar as each lamb born or saved from lambing difficulty is a potential product for sale later in the year.
Sleep will be limited over the coming months as I like to check the sheep as often as I can to help reduce the number of losses. I generally get up early and check the sheep that are closest to lambing; if there is a problem, I attend to it. If not, I sneak another hour of sleep before I get up. I always check the ewes again around 10.30pm before going to bed. I believe this maximises the amount of time I can attend the ewes and hopefully reduce losses.
The lambing kicked off with the pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters on February 3 with a single ewe lamb.
A new occurrence happened on the Staunton farm the following night as two embryo transfer ram lambs were born. It was unusual to see a Mule ewe with two pedigree Bluefaced Leicester lambs and their natural mother relaxing in the shed next door. I am delighted with these lambs and it looks like the investment of AI and embryo implants has paid off. Hopefully these new lambs of top bloodlines from rams, such as Midlock Controversy and Myfyrian Blue Dragon, from Scottish flocks will help improve my flock and leave their mark like they have done in many other flocks.
Once ewes show some signs that they are about to lamb, I isolate them in 5x5 strawed pens. I monitor them and if I notice they are having difficulty I intervene. Once the ewe gives birth, I wash her teats with a sponge soaked in warm water and disinfectant.
I started doing this a few years ago. I had a problem with lambs with bacterial scours, such as E.coli scours, and I saw dirty teats from ewes that were housed as a potential source of infection to newborn lambs. I treat the navals of the lambs with a 10pc iodine solution.
If I see a weak lamb, I organise an infrared lamp that I hang over the pen, which heats up the lamb. I notice that weak lambs get stronger and thrive much better with a little heat and often the infrared light is the difference between life and death.