Lambs are a delicate creature, while lively yes, they are also prone to catching different diseases and ailments after birth and if you are not prepared lamb mortality can be very high within the first few days of birth.
Below are some common ailments that affect newborns and some simple treatment methods to prevent the disease.
Watery mouth: Watery mouth and / or E. coli scour are diseases associated with lambs receiving insufficient colostrum and poor hygiene. Having clean bedding is a priority. Disinfect each lambing pen before your next ewe goes in. Remove cleanings and if necessary clip dirty hair around the ewe’s elder this will also prevent lambs sucking on dirty wool. Some farmers shear ewes before lambing to prevent just this.
Naval infections: The freshly broken umbilical cord is wet with blood. Blood is an ideal medium for the multiplication and spread of bacteria. The bacteria gain access to the body via the broken cord lading to infections in many parts of the body. A dirty navel could be the difference between birth and death. Disinfect navels as soon as lambs are born and ensure that bedding is clean.
Coccidiosis: Coccidiosisor blood scour can occur after lambing when new born’s are getting older. If putting new born lambs out try and not put them on ground if possible that older lambs have been on as the older lambs droppings may contain the parasitic disease and will help spread the disease to younger lambs who come into contact with it.
Hygiene at Lambing: Continue to clean out and disinfect lambing pens after each time they are used. This becomes more important as the season progresses due to the build up of infection. Use plenty of lime, jeyes fluid and fresh straw. Really this is what your straw is for don’t be a miser with it now.
Colostrum: Lambs should receive 50ml of colostrum per kg body weight in the first hour (250ml for a 5kg lamb). After lambing, check that each ewe has a good supply she may not have come to her milk yet which should rectify itself in 24 hours. Break the seal on each tit as the lamb may not be able to do this. If the lamb is unable to suck you should feed the lamb using a bottle and tit or in worse cases where the lamb is very weak using a stomach tube, preferably with colostrum taken from freshly lambed ewes. A store of this in the freezer would be very useful. If you don’t have ewe colostrum, colostrum powder can be obtained from your local farm store. A small bottle will help supplement a lamb who may have trouble sucking by himself on first birth. Generally lambs will want to suck about 10 minutes after birth so just give them a hand.