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General guidelines for ewes during the lambing season:

From Barnlab’s sheep guide

More than 85% of all lamb deaths occur during the birth process due to complications – sometimes as a result of mal-nutrition – together with stillborn lambs.

Premature lambs may show signs of malnutrition and exposure and die easily. These losses can be avoided by making a few simple changes in the management and feeding of ewes from 6 weeks before the lambing season until 4 weeks after.

What adjustments should be made?

  1. Prepare the ewes for lambing.
  2. Ewes with single lambs should be separated from those with twins so that the correct feed can be monitored.
  3. Ewes with twins should receive additional protein. Supplements should be given at 250-400g/ewe/day from six weeks before lambing. From 4 weeks it can be boosted to 300-450g/ewe/day.
  4. The feed of ewes with single lambs can be supplemented with 250-350g/day of protein from 4 weeks before lambing.
  5. Make sure that ewes do not lose weight during the last 4 weeks of gestation.
  6. Better quality feed in the last 4 weeks will promote better birth rates, improve mothering qualities, higher milk quality and fewer health problems among the lambs.
  7. Dose and vaccinate ewes, as recommended by your vet, 6 weeks before lambing.
  8. Avoid flies and maggot problems with long hair ewes by crutching.
  9. Regularly check up on the ewes in the last 14 days of gestation.
  10. Lambs should get enough mother’s milk in the first 4 hours after birth.
  11. Lambs should have a birth weight of 3.5kg – 5.5kg. Lambs weighing less than 3.5kg, have a slimmer chance of survival.
  12. Avoid conditions that will cause ewes to lamb prematurely. Make sure that they don’t have to walk long distances to reach their grazing or fodder, supplements and water.
  13. Monitor the lambs’ weight at the age of 4 weeks to ensure that they get enough ewe’s milk of high quality.
  14. With proper care, genetics, and feed the lambs of lactating ewes should grow at 240g/day in their first 100 days after birth.
  15. Lamb cage systems have many advantages and will ensure the profitability of your sheep farm.

What does the word mean?

Crutching: The removal of wool from around the tail and between the rear legs of a sheep for hygienic purposes.

Vaccination: Giving an animal medicine that makes it immune to a certain disease.

Gestation: Pregnancy.

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