Lambing Tips


Obstetrical Kit

  • Bucket, warm water and disinfectant (chlorhexidine or povidone iodine)
  • Lubricant
  • Chains or other leg snare
  • Strong iodine
  • Vitamin E/Selenium injections (R/X)
  • Penicillin (long acting, R/X)
  • Oxytocin (R/X)
  • Feeding tube and syringe
  • Bulb syringe
  • OB sleeve gloves
  • Clean towels

Ewes Prior to Lambing

  • Feed thin ewes prior to lambing to increase milk production.
  • Give Vitamin E/Selenium injection (R/X) one month prior to lambing if not on adequate supplementation. Test if unsure.
  • Vaccinate with 8-way Clostridial vaccine (R/X) or C&D plus Tetanus (R/X) one month prior to lambing.
  • Deworm and defluke. If present, treat keds/lice with Permethrin.
  • Tag and/or crutch (shear rear end) one month prior to lambing.

Ewes in Labor

  • Assist with the following if you can be clean and gentle, or get professional help:
    • Hard labor for 30 minutes to 1 hour without progress.
    • Any abnormal presentation. Time will not correct these. Normal presentation is a nose and two front feet at the vulva.
    • Unusual behavior, such as a ewe that seems to start labor, but doesn't progress. This may be true breech, other bizarre presentations or a failure to dilate. Early intervention is vital to saving both lambs and ewe. As long as you are clean and gentle, the maxim "when in doubt, check it out" holds true.
  • Handle ewes gently and with as little stress as possible. The more stress, the more likely you will have problems with lamb-ewe bonding.
  • Ewes are very "site sensitive" about lambing. If you find a ewe in labor and chase her to another place for delivery, she may return to the original site to look for her lambs, even if they are with her. A smart shepherd will drop a marker at the original site, catch the ewe and move her back "home" for delivery.
  • After delivery, strip the waxy plug and a few drops of colostrum from each teat to check for mastitis and make it easier for the calf to get its first mouthful.
  • Check udder for adequate colostrum, the single most important factor in lamb survival. Consult your veterinarian about supplementation for weak lambs.

Lambs at Birth

  • Dip navel, using strong iodine.
  • Make sure lamb nurses well and often in the first 8 hours of life.
  • Give Vitamin E/Selenium injection (R/X).
  • At 4-6 days of age, dock and castrate.

Note: These procedures may not be right for all situations. Always consult your veterinarian with questions or if you feel you need assistance for any reason. Drugs marked (R/X) are prescription drugs that require an established doctor/patient/client relationship for dispensing and use.