Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chilled Lamb/Hypothermia Management

The normal temperature of a lamb is 39-40°C 102-104°F.The main causes of hypothermia is exposure and starvation.

Lambs suffering from starvation hypothermia will have a low blood glucose level.If this glucose level is not corrected before the lamb is warmed up it is likely that the lamb will die from a fit during warming up.

It is more common for a lamb to die from hypothermia than disease.
Lambs are usually born during the coldest months of the year.If the lamb cannot maintain the correct body temperature it can lead to death.
Many of these deaths can be avoided by good farm management.
A smaller lamb will chill faster than a larger lamb. Some lambs are born with thicker coats than others these seem to be able to ward of the cold more than the thinner coated lambs.

The risk of hypothermia is also increased if a lamb is a twin or triplet or from an inexperienced sheep. The quicker a lamb is licked dry by the mother the less likely it is to get chilled.

If a lamb is born in a secure draft free environment it has more of a chance of survival.If the lamb has no shelter with the cold wind its heat loss will be accelerated.The lambing shed needs to be draft free with good ventilation.

Being in the lambing shed you can watch to see if the lambs are being licked and getting their first feed of colostrum from the ewe.

The best way to recognize hypothermia is to take the rectal temperature of the lamb. The chilled lamb will be weak dull and not willing to suckle. The quicker the lamb gets treatment the better the rate of survival
The lower the temperature the sicker the lamb.
The normal rectal temperature of the newborn lamb is 39  to 40°


When a lamb is suffering from hypothermia you want to warm it up and provide nourishment for energy.

Mild Hypothermia

The lambs rectal temperature is between 37 and 39 °C with mild hypothermia.
The lamb will be weak but may be still able to stand.Move the lamb to draft free shelter and stomach tube feed it colostrum.Give the lamb a good rub with a towel and put it in a pen with a heat lamp.
Extra small lambs may not have enough fat reserves to start heat production even with colostrum.They can be fed 20% dextrose solution by stomach tube.

Severe Hypothermia

When the rectal temperature is below 37° more urgent treatment is requirement.
The lamb must not be given colostrum until it is revived.The temperature must be brought above 37°C.

Reversing the hypoglycemia must be done first and then warm the lamb up slowly in a warming box.
A 20%  dextrose solution at a dose rate of 10ml/kg body weight is injected into the abdominal cavity.Known as intra peritoneal injection.
Ask your vet to show you how this.The site of the injection is about 2cm below the navel and 2cm lateral to the midline.Use a large 60mm syringe and a 20 or smaller gauge 1 inch needle.Inserted at a 90 degree angle to the body wall.
The lamb needs to be slowly warmed.You should use a warming box.
A warming box is a container heated by warm moving air at 39 to 40 degrees Celsius. Use the warm air heater rather than the heat lamp at this point of time.Keep a check on the rectal temperature once the temperature has reached 37°C the lamb can be given colostrum via stomach tube.Returned to the mother in a warm draft free area when it is able to nurse unaided. Until it is able to suckle of ewe unaided keep it in a pen with a heat lamp.
Remember if the lamb can swallow feed the lamb via stomach tube the colostrum if it cannot swallow give it the 20% dextrose solution via intra peritoneal injection get your vet to show you how.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lambing Kit

  •  Powder colostrum
  • Lamb milk replacer
  • 9% tenture of iodine /navel spray/navel dip
  • Stomach tube and syringe
  • Hot box for heating up sick lamb
  • Heat lamp
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Nylon rope
  • Foot trimmer
  • Shearmaster
  • Needles
  • Mineral Oil
  • Drenching syringes
  • Antibiotics
  • Eartags
  • Laxatives
  • Lubricant
  • Bottles and teats
  • Elaster bands
  • Balling guns
  • Electrolytes
  • Burdizzo clamp
  • Dextrose for weak lambs
  • Slaked lime
  • Eye ointment
  • Pepto bismol
  • Scour tablets
  • Aspirin
  • Worming medicine
  • Propylene glyol
  • Uterine boluses for assisted deliveries and retained placentas

feeding weak lamb colostrum with tube and syringe

tube and syringe for feeding week lamb colostrum

Care of New Born Lamb

When the newborn lamb arrives remove the mucus from its nose. You can also gently smack its back.You must ensure that the lamb is breathing immediately after birth.Gently pressing its ribcage can start the breathing.You can also tickle its nose with some straw.If the lamb is still not breathing you can hold the lamb from its hind legs and swing him from side to side. Rubbing the lamb also helps.
When you are sure the lamb is breathing encourage the ewe to lick and bond with the lamb.
Spray the lambs navel with iodine as soon as possible to ward off infection.
Unplug the ewes teat by giving it a tug. Check also that she has milk.
It is vital that the lamb gets it first suck of colostrum from the ewe.

If the lamb is weak and not able to suck you must milk the ewe and tube feed the lamb.Use the tube and syringe.Ensure that you put the tube into the lambs stomach not its lungs. If you are nervous and not sure if you have put the tube in correctly, put the tube in a glass of water if you see air bubbles then you have put it in the lungs.
When the lamb is showing signs of improvement put him sucking on the mother. If you are still anxious you can put the lamb after it has been given the colostrum under the heat lamp to warm up.

When the lamb is happily sucking keep mother and lamb in a pen together.

Navel Dip /Spray/Iodine for Lambs

The naval of the newborn lamb is an entry point for infectious diseases. To avoid infections naval stumps should be disinfected directly after birth. Spray or dip the navels with antiseptic solution. Most farmers today use iodine spray found in farm supply shops.

When you want to apply the naval spray hold the lamb up by its two front legs and give a generous spray. The naval spray will dry and shrivel up the naval. If the navel after a few hours has not shriveled up reapply the navel spray/dip

Clip the naval cord /umbilical cord if it is very long, some lambs are born with very long naval. If the naval is too long the lamb or sheep could step on it causing severe bleeding
Navel's longer than 2 inches should be clipped closer to the body.


If the naval is not treated it can cause infections in the brain, liver, joints, spinal cord or elsewhere which can lead to death in the lamb.
Nave ill and joint ill are two common infections lambs get from not treating their navels well.
This occurs on lambs up to one month old. The infected lamb may be lame in several joints. The affected joints will be hot and painful.The lamb will be dull and feverish. There may also be a swollen infected navel. The lamb may show symptoms of pneumonia. The most effective treatment is long acting penicillin.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Colostrum Powder For Lambs


Colostrum is the first milk that the sheep produces after giving birth. This milk is thicker than the milk produced later by the sheep. Colostrum contains alot of nutrients and antibodies that are vital for the lambs survival. At birth the lamb does not have any antibodies as the sheep's antibodies do not cross the placenta.
It is critical that the lambs receive colostrum during the first 24 hours of life. Absorption of these vital antibodies and nutrients from the colostrum is most effective during the first few hours after birth.
A lamb should receive 10 percent of their body weight in colostrum in the first 24 hours of birth.

The possibility of death in a lamb that does not receive colostrum in the first 24 hours is very high. In some cases the lamb does survive in a germ free environment but on a busy farm this is highly unlikely. This is why you have a  lamb that is perfect at birth but starts to fade and die a few days later as they have got an infection from lack of antibodies.

A sheep farmer who wants the best results from their flock will ensure that their newborn lambs have received their colostrum.
Its best practice to check the ewe for milk after she has given birth. You can do this by giving a tug on her teat. You first remove the protective plug and then the milk should flow.
If the sheep has plenty of milk but the lamb is very weak and cannot suckle you need to milk the sheep. Its best to tube feed the lamb with the colostrum.

If the case is that the sheep has no milk you need to buy colostrum powder for the lambs. This is different to the lamb milk replacer. Each brand of colostrum has a different preparation method. The quantity to be given will be shown on the instructions.

Ewes can differ in the quality and quantity of the colostrum they produce.

The ewe colostrum differs in texture and appearance to the normal ewe milk. Its thicker and darker usually.

The lamb in these pictures was a twin. This lamb was so tiny that it couldn't reach its mothers teat. Its twin was normal size.The lamb was hand raised until it was big enough to go with its mother and sibling. As its mother was healthy and had plenty of milk she was milked and I gave the milk by bottle to the tiny lamb.The lamb made great progress been bottle fed and kept beside the warm range so he was soon returned to its mother.

Below is a picture of the lamb when he was healthy and big enough to return with its sibling. There is a big size difference. The mother ewe accepted the tiny lamb straight away as the lamb was fed with her milked milk while in my care. Her milk leaves a particular smell in the lambs poop which she recognized. She was a quiet sheep  which helped.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Things You Need For Raising Orphan Lambs

  • Lamb milk replacer, Frisky is a good brand
  • Bottles, plastic or glass
  • Rubber teats
  • Electrolyte to be used for a speedy recovery when the lamb is sick
  • Warm, cosy draft free place for the lamb to sleep
  • Colostrum powder, this needs to be the lambs first meal. Providing the lambs with antibodies that they usually get from mother
  • Feeding tubes, for feeding the first meal of colostrum
  • Naval dip
  • Penicillin, some farmers like to give half a cc at birth
  • Hot box, its like an incubator for lambs to heat them up if they are very cold and ill