Monday, 23 January 2017 08:57
Dog tired from lambing and fed up bottle feeding then invest in a Ewe2 warm milk feeder to save you time and effort, improve lamb growth rates and reduce the risk of digestive upsets.
LAMBING either early or late making time now to plan for those busy weeks pays says Volac’s Alistair Sampson.
 “Checking lambing pens and lambing box essentials will help maximise numbers sold in 2017. Even those of us in sheep a lifetime can learn from what went right or wrong previous years.”
Top lambing tips:

Ewes must be in the best condition possible for the last six weeks of pregnancy when 70% of foetal growth takes place. Getting this wrong can cause poor lamb survival rates, low birth weights and inferior quality ewe colostrum. Group and feed ewes according to scanning results and their condition score. Getting the mineral balance right is important too, so ask your nutritionist for advice. Consider asking your vet to blood sample ewes 4-6 weeks pre-lambing to make sure their diet is delivering the required energy and protein status.
Over 45% of sheep producers aim to rear more lambs artificially in 2017 as a weak pound makes every lamb worth more. Well proven ad lib milk feeding systems save time and boost lamb growth rates. Why spend hours a day bottle-feeding when already dog tired from lambing? The Ewe 2 range of warm milk feeders from Volac teat feeds up to 25 lambs ad lib. Lambs that drink little and often to give naturally better DLWG.
Don’t skimp! Stock up with the equipment and supplies you’ll need. Once lambing starts you won’t want to leave the yard. Order well in advance materials such as disinfectant for pens, iodine for navels, castration rings, feeding tubes, marker sprays, sterilisation equipment, Volac milk and colostrum replacers. 
Remind yourself of those essential disease management interventions pre and post lambing. For example, boosting ewe clostridial disease and pasteurellosis cover 4-6 week pre-lambing. Separate and treat lame sheep well before housing. Check protocols for dealing with any abortion problems, scours or joint ill. 
Thoroughly clean and disinfected sheds at least a fortnight before ewes come in to lamb. Use plenty of clean, dry bedding to reduce the risk of spreading lameness and other infections such as watery mouth, joint ill and coccidiosis. Good lighting makes it so much easier to check stock without disturbing them too much. Avoid overcrowding. A typical 70kg ewe needs 1.2m2 to 1.4m2 of floor space and 45cm of trough space.
“Even those of us lambing sheep a lifetime can still learn from what went right or wrong previous years and plan now to do better,” Alistair Sampson, Volac NI.
 At lambing an extra pair of hands is invaluable. Have you got enough help 24/7? Ag or vet students can be ideal temp staff though vary in their experience and knowledge. But above all they should bring energy, enthusiasm and initiative to the job. Just add your clear instructions on what needs done
Set targets for reducing lamb losses 
Good records benchmark performance and help identify potential problem areas. Recording doesn’t have to be complicated – just do it! The aim is less than 15% lamb losses, but top flocks are achieving closer to 10%. 

Targets for reducing lamb losses:
Less than 5% from scanning to lambing
Less than 5% during lambing and the first week of life
Less than 2% from the first week until weaning
Less than 2% from weaning until sold.
 Ask your vet for advice if:

Ewe losses are more than 3%
Lamb losses are more than 15%
More than 2% of your ewes are barren at scanning.
For further information contact Alistair Sampson, Volac NI, tel; 07860 626442.