Monday, December 20, 2010

Preparing for Kidding and Lambing

This information is most helpful for the new farmer and producer, but also a good review for the experienced herder.

It’s time to think about preparing for kidding and lambing season. It will be here before we are ready, as usual. This is an intense time so the less stress the better concerning our management of the events that are about to take place. The weather is always questionable and often hampers all good intentions.  So, being well-prepared beforehand is essential.

For starters, we need to prepare the barn, garage or shed where kidding or lambing will take place for those who prefer to “jug-up,” or confine, the does or ewes and their newborns. This serves as the nursery,
made up of 4’ x 4’ pens that are in a draft- free, sheltered building, and well-bedded with straw or shavings, especially if there is a concrete floor. The pen should contain a:
• good, clean bucket clipped into one corner for water
• hay bag for holding alfalfa or good quality hay
• fence feeder clipped to one side to provide grain for the doe or ewe, if possible.

In extremely cold temperatures, a heat lamp mounted safely at a height of 36 inches may be necessary. The doe or ewe and newborns spend the first two to three days in this area in order to bond.  This is also an opportunity to deworm the doe or ewe, trim hooves, eartag newborns and administer any other treatments such as a tube feeding, Bo-Se, etc.

Next, prepare a bucket with supplies such as: seven percent tincture of iodine, a dry towel, a lamb puller, infant nasal aspirator, umbilical tape or dental floss, Nutri-Drench and First Arrival®.  Please give the doe or ewe the opportunity to clean off the young as this is an important part of the bonding process. This allows the doe or ewe to recognize the smell of her young and aids in the release of oxytocin which will enhance the let-down of milk for nursing.

The nasal aspirator helps to remove mucus and fluid in the mouth or nasal passages if you are having trouble clearing it, just be sure to clean the aspirator between uses. Umbilical tape or dental floss works well to tie off the umbilical cord if it tends to bleed after it has been severed. This will eventually dry with the umbilicus and fall off on its own. Reminder: dip the naval in seven-percent tincture of iodine at birth. Nutri-Drench provides a high-energy treat for the newborn to encourage it to get to its feet and start nursing, if it is sluggish.  Be patient with newborns. If they are not up and moving within the first hour, then you may intervene. First Arrival® is a new product available to help in the prevention of neo-natal diarrhea.

Newborns should be up and nursing within two hours of birth. Does or ewes that have engorged, or swollen mammary glands, or those that are new moms, may need manual stripping of the teats to remove a plug in the teat canal so the newborns can successfully nurse. Many times the newborn removes this automatically as it nurses for the first time.  Remember to always observe first before intervening.  If kids or lambs are not up and nursing, tube feeding colostrum, a yellowish liquid rich in immune factors, may be necessary.

These suggestions are merely that, suggestions.  (by Charlotte Clifford-Rathert, DVM, Lincoln University, State Extension Small Ruminant Specialist)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent advice. It is time to get ready for the new arrivals!