Prevention can keep the wolf (and vet) from the door this spring
While I was treating two lambs with joint ill, my client stated with a wry smile: "Once a vet gets into the yard in the spring, its impossible get rid of ye". Although said in jest, this is often the case as, routinely, we have to make multiple visits to the same flock to avoid significant lamb losses. Prevention is most definitely better than cure and it starts with the basics.
The first and most important line of defence against any disease in young lambs. Most lambs will nurse without intervention. Supplementation may be required after a difficult lambing or if the ewe is being particularly uncooperative. A lamb should get 20pc of its body weight in colostrum in the first 24 hrs, with half of that given in the first six hours. So, in the case of a 5kg lamb, it needs 250ml in the first six hours and a further 250ml over three feeds in the first 24 hours.
Diseases such as navel ill and scour can be prevented with strict hygiene. A veterinary approved disinfectant should be used after all houses and pens are power-washed. Once lambing is underway, individual pens should be routinely cleaned and disinfected.
3. Navel care
Lambs should have their navels dipped in either iodine or a chlorhexidine-based solution immediately after birth.