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Lambing Kit

A list of Items you may need during Lambing Time.

Lambing Kit

Here are some of the most important things to keep in your Lambing Kit. Some you will use constantly, others you may never need, but they are handy to have on hand, just in case. Lambs do not come when it suits us or when the shops are open, so it is essential to have things on hand when needed. It's a good idea to start collecting them early.
  • Digital Rectal Thermometer-must have: available from Pharmacy
  • Powdered Glucose - Glucodin available at Pharmacy
  • Scissors: small and sharp
  • Betadine for naval in small film canister or spray
  • Clean old towels
  • Colostrum (Kwik Start, or Impact) or something similar
  • Feeding tube
  • Baby bottle with teats OR
  • Glass soft drink bottle and lamb teats or other bottle that fits teat
  • Lamb Milk replacer or full cream milk of choice
  • Scale (handy but not necessary)
  • Lamb sling for weighing in hanging scale (Make from grocery bag)
  • Obstetric Lubricant or KY gel
  • Clean medical gloves or Veterinary sleeves (gloves)
  • Clean bucket for soapy or Betadine water
  • Soft small bulb syringe to clear nose and airway (optional)
  • Hairdryer/heat pad/hot water bottle for warming cold lambs (use hairdryer on low settings)
  • Syringes and needles
  • Penicillin (always handy to have in fridge)
  • Veterinarian’s phone number….speed dial on your mobile
  • Sheep mentor phone number….speed dial on your mobile
  • Molasses, Glucose or raspberry cordial to make sweet water for ewe for extra energy
  • Ketol for Pregnancy Toxaemia
  • Vet Wrap
  • Electrolyte mix
  • Lamb coats, Woolovers, or small dog jumpers
  • Lamb ear tags


Digital Thermometer

Digital Thermometer: a must have in your First Aid Kit at all times. Before lambing, check it is working or buy a new one. There is nothing worse than reaching for a thermometer and the battery has died! It is my go-to for any sick sheep or lamb as it tells you immediately if an infection is present. Any temperature over 39.9°C needs veterinary attention or antibiotics. Our Vet errs on the side of caution and gives antibiotics if the temperature is over 39.6°C. Lambs have a slightly higher temperature than adult sheep but over 40°C needs attention. Likewise any lamb below 38°C needs warming up.

Glucodin

Powdered Glucose: Also a must have for giving energy to a newborn lamb, especially if hypothermic. (See article on Hypothermic lambs) I use Glucodin powder available from Pharmacies.

Scissors and Betadine

Scissors: useful for a whole range of things, but particularly good if you need to shorten a long umbilical cord. Cut the membranes past the blood vessels that you can see. If you have a bleeding umbilical pinch with a cotton swab and either hold or put a peg on for a few minutes, until the bleeding has stopped.

Betadine in container or spray: As soon as possible after birth but without upsetting Mum, either dip or spray the umbilical cord in Betadine. We prefer to dip and use one of the old film canisters or a small pill container, but anything small will work. If you use a spray, make sure you saturate the cord right up to the body. The umbilical is the one area where germs can easily access the lamb's body causing infection and polyarthritis.

​Towels and Colostrum

Clean, old towels: My washing machine and dryer work overtime during lambing with old towels we use to help dry the lambs off or use on the ground if we need to assist. We always keep the lambs with Mum, but just give a bit of a rub to help, especially if it's cold. A towel is also great if you need extra grip when pulling a lamb.

Colostrum: Fresh is best but I rarely have any, and sheep are not that easy to milk, until you get the hang of it. Kwik Start is my  go-to and is usually available from the Feed Store. Impact is also good. Make sure you have some on hand as lambs are often born when the shops are closed! NEVER MICROWAVE COLOSTRUM. ALWAYS HEAT IN A CONTAINER IN WARM WATER.

Feeding Tube and Bottles

Feeding Tube: A feeding tube is handy, if you know how to use one. They can be deadly if you don't get them in the correct place and the formula goes into the lungs. I prefer a bottle if at all possible.

Bottle: This totally depends on personal preference. Large plastic bottles are available from the Feed Store, glass Coke bottles fit the black teats if they are your preference. I prefer the cheap baby bottles from Coles or Woolies that come in a three pack of usually pink or blue. They work out to be about $1.00 each and they are perfect for lambs of all breeds. They are really good for the Babydolls, being smaller, and we have yet to bottle raise a Mini Cheviot. I have had to replace the teats once during the entire twelve weeks of feeding, with a couple of "rough" lambs, who tended to chomp on the teats, but they are so cheap it's not a big deal. Being plastic, you can also squeeze them a little, for the premmies, if they need it to start them off by dribbling the milk into their mouths.

Formula, Gloves and Lubricant

Lamb Formula: Again, this is personal choice and there are many brands out there. Our preference is full cream cow's milk, that we would drink. Because sheep milk is higher in fats and protein than cow's milk, we fortify it with powdered cow's milk. We add one cup of powder to 2 litres of milk. We try to feed small amounts often, to help prevent abomasal bloat. After researching the qualities of sheep milk, last year we swapped over to A2 milk as it has similar proteins to sheep milk: A1 beta casein is not in sheep milk but is in regular cow's milk, so A2 cow's milk is closer to the ewe's milk. Although this may help to prevent Bloat, smaller feeds more often will also help. It is estimated a ewe will feed her one to two week old lamb around 36 times over a 24 hour period, which is a lot more regularly that our five times over the same period. You can also yoghurtise the milk for lambs which will also help to prevent Bloat. You will find the directions for doing this online. It is time consuming but apparently works well.

Obstetric Lubricant: You can buy this in bulk from Vet supplies if you have a larger number of sheep to lamb or just buy the KY gel from the Pharmacy. If you find yourself in a situation without any lube, dish-washing detergent also works well.

Vet sleeves or gloves: I appreciate the safety aspect of wearing long Vet gloves, as some sheep diseases are zoonotic, but I personally don't like them. They are made for man hands and I find I cannot get a good grip with them. I prefer the smaller blue gloves, from the Pharmacy, as they are not as slippery and they fit my hands better. If I need to go in to my elbow, I just wash my hand and arms well afterwards. The Vet gloves are available from Vet supply stores online, if you prefer them.

Hairdryer, Heat pack, Penicillin, Syringes and Needles

Hairdryer/Heat packs/Hot water bottle: We have all three and use all three. Newborn hypothermic lambs need to be warmed SLOWLY and should not be fed milk until their temperatures have reached 38°C. If using a hair dryer, use it on a low setting in heat as well as power. Hot water bottles should be covered in a towel and again, not too hot. Warmed wheat packs are also excellent as you can pack them around the lamb. While warming a hypothermic lamb, rub powdered Glucose on the gums. This will help to keep the lamb's brain functioning. Powder is better than liquid form as the lamb may not be able to swallow properly, but the glucose powder will still be absorbed.

Penicillin, Syringes and Needles; Syringes and needles are available from the Feed Store, but any of the antibiotic injectables are only available from the Vet. Sometimes the Vets will draw up syringes, sometimes they will give you the bottle. It's always handy to have a bottle in the fridge. Infections can kill young lambs very quickly.

Mentor, Molasses and Ketol

Vet/Sheep Mentor phone number: If you can, find someone experienced who you can contact, if necessary. A friendly, supportive voice on the phone can help you through a lambing, even if it's only until the Vet arrives. Have them in your Contacts, especially if you are lambing for the first time. It is surprising how much you can panic at your first lambing, if things don't go to plan. 

Molasses, Glucose, Raspberry Cordial: We make up tubs of Molasses water for our lambing ewes to give them a bit of extra energy. We just put a few ladles of Molasses into a tub with water and stir it around. There is no set quantity as some sheep will lick it straight, directly from the ladle. Glucose could also be used for the same thing and in a pinch Raspberry cordial, if a ewe needs a sugar hit and molasses or glucose is not available . Molasses is my go-to and the girls love it. It can also help to prevent Pregnancy Toxaemia.

Ketol: Pregnancy Toxaemia occurs when the levels of glucose in the blood, drop to drastically low levels, damage the brain and can lead to kidney failure and death. It usually occurs in the last weeks of pregnancy and is more common in ewes carrying multiple lambs, due to the lambs taking up so much, the ewe can't get enough nutrition. If the ewe is separated from the mob for lengthy periods, is drowsy, not eating and lying on her side, suspect Pregnancy Toxaemia. The next stages are tremors, blindness and finally death. Drenching with Ketol will help, but I would also advise a visit from the Vet, as the ewe will need to be monitored carefully until she lambs A good diet, high in protein will also help.

Vet Wrap, Coats and Ear Tags

Vet Wrap and Electrolytes: These are things that need to be in sheep First Aid Kit anyway, not just at lambing time but all year round.

Woolovers, Dog coats, Lamb coats: Whichever you prefer, it's always good to have some on hand at lambing time. When you out the coats on, just watch for a while to make sure the Mum does not reject the lamb with the coat on. Just ensure the ewe can still reach and sniff the lamb's rear end, especially with Woolovers, as they sometimes cover the tail. If they do just roll them up a little, so the tail is visible. This doesn't tend to happen as much with little dog coats. We usually rub the outside of the Woolover or coat over the lamb so its scent is on the coat. Make sure any coats fit well and they can't get their legs caught in any straps or the leg openings.

Lamb Ear Tags: These are probably only necessary this early if you have a large flock and need to be able to match a ewe with a lamb. And yes, some ewes will try to pinch other ewes' lambs.